Once considered the uncrowned king of the UFC lightweight division, Yves Edwards is rapidly approaching the 14th anniversary of his mixed martial arts debut. Two weeks ago, as Edwards worked through the final stretch of preparation for Saturday’s contest against Sam Stout, the 34-year-old Bahamian proudly said that he could recall virtually every second of every fight he’s been a part of.
By his own admission, that’s no longer the case.
He’d been stopped, but nothing like the cold KO that was inflicted upon him and led to the back of his head slamming into the canvas. This was, as UFC president Dana White suggested, among the most vicious knockouts in the organization’s history. Cringe worthy. At the very least, Stout’s perfect left hook to Edward’s jaw won the Canadian "Knockout of the night" and put him in pole position for "KO of the year."
The topography of Edwards’ face paints a clear portrait of someone who knows what it’s like to get touched up. He's endured more than 70 stitches in his life, including 32 after crashing through a windshield at age 5.
“Probably it made me a little tougher,” Edwards said of the jagged scar that runs down the middle of his face.
Indeed. There are others, of course.
The clean incision along his hairline: an elbow from Joe Stevenson.
The odd shaped mark on his left arm looks like something a large cigar might leave. In actuality, that came after running "from people I shouldn't have been running from," Edwards said with a wry smile. He was a high jumper in high school. In real life the Fosbury Flop -- over a fence and on to concrete -- isn't the best idea, and that struck Edwards in mid-flight. Before landing he twisted. The impact, he said, "burned a hole in my arm."
In Edward's first UFC bout, a majority decision loss to Matt Serra on the seminal "Victory in Vegas" card -- the first sanctioned MMA event in Nevada in 2001 -- his foot caught in the cage, prompting a rip in the webbing between the little toe and the one next to it.
"That," he said predictably, "hurt" -- though it doesn’t compare to an orbital bone break against Duane Ludwig in 2008.
"Miserable," said Edwards. "My eyes wouldn't track. One could only move a little bit. The muscle under my eye was hooked on the bone, and my eye was tilting. I started wearing a patch because I was seeing double. If I covered my good eye and I tried to walk a straight line I would fall over like a drunk person. I was dizzy.
"I was scared. Really scared,” he said. “I asked the doctor if I could fight again. He said it was up to me if I wanted to. I was terrified for a while. I love doing this. I still love doing this."
Edwards has also dished out plenty of punishment over the years. Just once, after fracturing a fighter's palette, was he compelled to feel bad about it.
"I don't want to hurt anybody," he said. "My rule is I just want to hurt a guy enough that he doesn't want to fight me anymore tonight. Beyond that I don't want to take someone's living away from them. I just want to be able to feed my kids."
Edwards (40-17-1) intended to hurt Stout (17-6) just enough to win and walked into the fight envisioning himself as a potential title contender behind a group that includes Gray Maynard, Jim Miller and Melvin Guillard.
One spot-on left hook, which Stout said was identified as a fight-stopper several weeks ago by his trainer Shawn Tompkins, means the championship that long eluded Edwards likely slipped from his grasp forever in Vancouver.