Coming off a massive upset victory over the former welterweight champion and pound-for-pound king, Edwards created history when he knocked Usman out cold with a brutal kick to the head with just 56 seconds left in the main event bout of UFC 278. Edwards became the second-ever English athlete to hold a UFC title, with the UK mixed martial arts pioneer Michael Bisping being the first.
While many were thrilled at how Edwards got the win, grizzled veteran and former title challenger Chael Sonnen had hit out at “Rocky,” claiming he cheated multiple times in the title fight.
During the post-fight press conference for “Dana White’s Contender Series” 52 on Tuesday, White pushed back on Sonnen’s allegations that Edwards won the title by cheating.
“He became champion with a head kick,” White said via MMA Junkie. “He didn’t win by grabbing the fence. I mean, he got absolutely dominated in that whole fight except for that couple of minutes in the first round. He got absolutely dominated, and you know, that’s completely unfair of Chael Sonnen to say that.
“That kid sucked it up, dug down deep and landed literally the perfect head kick with like a minute left in the fight. So I would say that that’s silly, ridiculous and absolutely unfair to say about Leon.”
Sonnen Believes Edwards Cheated Multiple Times in His Title Win
Sonnen took issue with Edwards grabbing the fence repeatedly in an attempt to stop Usman from landing takedowns. “The Bad Guy” believes it may have changed the outcome of the bout and shared his thoughts in a video uploaded to his YouTube channel.
“Leon cheated in that match a whole bunch of times,” Sonnen said. “That is not a headline or a topic that is out there anywhere. … Leon was frustrated in positions and had no way out of positions to the extent that he cheated repeatedly.
“Not once – not an accident, not the ref didn’t see it. The ref saw it, the ref warned him, the ref saw it again, the ref stepped in, the ref broke the action five and six times.”
Sonnen argued Usman had a high chance of securing a finish from the position Edwards only got out of through foul play.
“Kamaru Usman is very likely to smother you and change you when he is on top of you. He is most likely to finish a fight from that position particularly when he has you pinned up against the fence. Kamaru did three times. Leon changed the position and got out of that three times by cheating.”
White Wants To Make Edwards vs. Usman 3 at Wembley
Edwards and Usman had shared the cage previously in Dec. 2015, with Usman getting the better of his opponent by a unanimous decision. Now that Edwards has leveled the score evenly, a title rematch seemed the most likely option next.
Following Edwards’ sensational victory, White indicated that an immediate trilogy bout between Edwards and Usman would be in the works and that he would be eyeing the UFC’s debut stadium show at Wembley for the event.
“How do you not do a (rematch)?” White added (ht talkSPORT). “Wembley? I don’t know. I’m scared to go outside, and I’m definitely scared to go outside in England. I’m serious but joking about Wembley. Anything is possible in England now. It would be fun but scary at the same time. The weather isn’t the greatest over there in England.”