Leon Edward’s striking coach and UFC 278 cornerman Dave Lovell hinted that Edward’s first welterweight title defense might not be against Kamaru Usman, hinting at a matchup with UFC ‘cash cow’ Khamzat Chimaev instead.
Lovell understands Usman should be next in line due to his [former] reputation as champ but claims ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ might never be the same after getting knocked out in such devastating fashion at UFC 278.
The Team Renegade coach explained why Khamzat could get the next title shot over Usman if ‘Borz’ impressively beats Nate Diaz at UFC 279, claiming MMA is ‘a dirty game’ behind closed doors.
“If that’s the script, so be it,” Lovell said of Usman during a recent appearance on The MMA Hour (h/t MMA Fighting). “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.”
“Let’s not forget, I’ve heard a few people skirt around what I’m going to say, like Khabib mentioned some things but Usman had a loss earlier in his career where he got choked out before he was in the UFC,” Lovell added. “He’s never been knocked out. 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.”
Edwards is the second British fighter to win a UFC championship after Michael Bisping. His victory over Usman saw him vault to #6 in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings and cement his status as one of the greatest welterweights in the sport.