Dana White has taken it upon himself to defend newly crowned UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards from accusations of cheating in his fight against Kamaru Usman.
Edwards dethroned Usman with a fifth-round head kick KO at UFC 278 this past August, but former multiple time title contender Chael Sonnen believes that the win was not without controversy. The analyst noted several instances of ‘Rocky’ grabbing the fence and changing positions on the ground, where the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ found success.
“Kamaru Usman is very likely to smother you and change you when he’s on top of you,” said Sonnen on his YouTube channel. “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.
“So now you’re in a fifth round that you never should’ve been in, potentially – you take a kick in a fight that you were winning, that you were trying to finish, and you had the position you needed to get said finish and the opponent cheated three times,” continued Sonnen.
White rejected the notion that Edwards won his fight by cheating. The UFC president spoke to assembled media during a press conference after Contender Series recently and reminded everyone, including Sonnen, of how Edwards became a champion.
“He became champion with a head kick,” said White. “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,” continued White. “So I would say that that’s silly, ridiculous and absolutely unfair to say about Leon.”
It should be noted that Usman was also accused of cheating by grabbing the fence. Both men received warnings from referee Herb Dean, and the fight continued.
For their own part, Edwards and Usman can put an end to any controversy when the pair complete their trilogy sometime next year.