UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards’ camp believes the promotion could help Khamzat Chimaev leapfrog Kamaru Usman for a title shot.
Coming off a shocking upset over the former division champion Usman, Edwards placed himself at the top of the food chain after becoming only the second-ever British fighter to hold gold in the UFC, with former middleweight champion Michael Bisping being the first. Usman was on his way to a comfortable decision win until he got brutally knocked out for the first time in his professional career.
Following the victory, an immediate trilogy bout with the once-dominant Usman appeared to be set, with UFC president Dana White indicating the title rematch would be in the works. However, the new champion’s team is not convinced just yet.
Dave Lovell, head coach of Edwards, gave his take on what’s next for his pupil. He is not fully sold on the idea that Usman would be next and could see the promotion find a way to insert Chimaev into the title picture.
“If that’s the script, so be it,” coach Lovell said of Usman during an episode of The MMA Hour (ht MMA Nytt). “But you never know how these things work. There’s a lot of wheeling and dealing behind closed doors. We’re in a dirty game, and you’ve got to know to play your cards and keep them tight to your chest. You know, I know, they’re gearing up this Khamzat guy.
“He’s their next cash cow, and they’re fast-tracking him. So listen, it’s not a foregone conclusion that we’re going to get Usman.”
Lovell Thinks Usman Will Not Be the Same
Usman was on the verge of tying legendary mixed martial artist Anderson Silva’s record for the most consecutive wins in the promotion but missed out on the opportunity with just 56 seconds left on the clock. It also marked the first defeat of Usman under the UFC banner.
Lovell argued the result might change Usman, and he may not return as the same fighter before the finish.
“He’s never been knocked out, Lovell continued. “It’s one thing a fighter getting dropped and getting counted out while he’s still conscious, or taken a body shot and couldn’t get up from it, or getting stopped on his feet with the referee pulled the other guy off him, but when you get knocked out in a fight where you just wake up and think, ‘What’s happened?’ Let me tell you, it’s a life-changing event, and I’m not just talking about fighting, I’m talking life itself.”
White Says Nate Diaz Can’t Be Counted for UFC 279
When the UFC 279 main event of Chimaev vs. Nate Diaz got announced, there was widespread controversy regarding the seemingly lopsided matchmaking. Chimaev opened as a massive betting favorite, with few believing Diaz could pull off a win.
White dismissed claims Diaz had no chance in the showdown and suggested never to count out the Stockton-based veteran.
“I did a bunch of media today, and everybody’s counting Nate Diaz out,” White said via MMA Junkie. “These are the kind of stories – it’s almost like you just saying to me earlier, it’s like people are counting Leon Edwards out. You can’t count anybody out. In this sport, you never know what’s going to happen. Anything is possible.”