At UFC 278, Leon Edwards did the impossible by knocking out Kamaru Usman in the final minute, but the fight was marred by controversy.
Chael Sonnen, a former UFC middleweight and light heavyweight championship challenger turned MMA commentator and podcast host, would like to remind us that “Rocky” grabbed the fence multiple times during the fight, prompting referee Herb Dean to issue warnings and separate the fighters.
Edwards was not penalized in any way for using the cage to his advantage, but Sonnen still called him out as a cheater because Sonnen was on his way to victory before Edwards landed the head kick.
“There’s a lot more in Leon versus Usman and nobody spoke of it,” Sonnen said.
“Kamaru is apparently too much of a gentleman to, in conjunction with it appears Kamaru is going to get the rematch so there is no need for it. But Leon cheated in that match a whole bunch of times. That is not a headline or a topic that is out there anywhere, I do not want to be the one to bring that to you.
“I’m a guy that operates in the gray, I’m not giving him a hard time…for the story to be told accurately, nobody’s wanting to touch that. 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 broke the act five or six times…”
“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…Leon learned a lot in this fight. When Leon goes to prepare for Kamaru again, he’s going to have some confidence…it’s a strong word to say cheated, but what other word do you want to use?”
Edwards defeated Usman via knockout to become the second British fighter after Michael Bisping to win a UFC title. As a result of the victory, Edwards moved up to the sixth spot in the official pound-for-pound rankings in the UFC men’s division.