Sonnen accused Edwards (20-3 MMA, 12-2 UFC) of repeatedly grabbing the cage when trying to fend off Usman’s (20-2 MMA, 15-1 UFC) takedowns, which he thinks impacted the result of the fight.
“Leon cheated in that match a whole bunch of times,” Sonnen said on his YouTube channel. “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.
“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.”
Edwards knocked out Usman with a stunning head kick with less than a minute remaining to capture the welterweight title, but White dismissed Sonnen’s theory that he cheated prior to the finish.
“He became champion with a head kick,” White told reporters, including MMA Junkie, after Dana White’s Contender Series 52 on Tuesday. “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.”
Edwards and Usman are expected to run things back in a trilogy bout. All three judges had Usman up three rounds to one before Edwards came from behind to land the knockout blow.