At UFC 278 last month, Usman’s lengthy and imposing reign on the 170-pound throne came to an end. The man who unseated him — accomplishing a feat that Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington failed to in four combined challenges — was Edwards, who added a fitting conclusion to an inspirational journey to the top of mixed martial arts.
In the aftermath, Usman took his first setback inside the Octagon well, congratulating “Rocky” on the moment and insisting that he’s happy for the Jamaican-born Brit. That attitude has continued in the weeks since, with “The Nigerian Nightmare” appearing gracious in defeat in media appearances, even admitting that he is “in awe” of the kick that slept him in Utah.
At the same time, Usman has made his plans for redemption clear, noting that he’ll be back for vengeance in what he sees as an inevitable trilogy fight with the champ.
But according to former two-division title challenger Sonnen, Usman hasn’t cemented his place opposite Edwards for the Englishman’s first defense, in spite of UFC President Dana White’s post-fight remarks.
Speaking in a video uploaded to his YouTube channel, “The American Gangster” insisted that nothing will be made official in the welterweight title picture until the conclusion of the UFC 279 main event between Khamzat Chimaev and Nate Diaz this weekend.
“September 10, there is nothing done and there is nothing that’s going to be done no matter what you’ve been told,” Sonnen said. “There is nothing that is going to be accomplished prior to September 10… there is no number one contender and Leon does not have his next opponent, and he will not have it until the end of business on the end of September 10 at the very earliest.”
For Sonnen, a lot of that uncertainty comes from the way in which Usman has approached the defeat, which is a far cry from how the 45-year-old fighter-turned-analyst would have.
Sonnen Urges Usman To “Tell Some Truths”
After questioning whether Usman has handled the UFC 278 result correct, Sonnen said that the first thing on Usman’s mind as he looks to regain the belt should center around securing the bout agreement itself.
“Do you think Kamaru Usman has responded to this loss correctly?” Sonnen asked. “Usman is being a gentleman… He was being very thoughtful, very kind… He was also taking the high road, using extreme sportsmanship… It sounds to me like a very reasonable reaction, and possibly even a very mature reaction. Is that what you guys wanna hear?
“It’s about a contract, ‘I gotta get that contract. I wanna get my belt back. First thing I gotta do, I’ve gotta get a piece of paper that says I’m opposite Leon Edwards.’ … Nothing is done at 170. This is all up in the air,” Sonnen continued. “Chimaev and Diaz believe that they’re fighting for number-one contendership.”
And although Sonnen clarified his belief that Usman is firmly deserving of an immediate chance to reclaim the gold, he believes that the former champion could have already secured as much had he paraded a few more “truths” to the MMA community.
“As cold as it might be to not give Kamaru Usman (the next fight)… there’s other boys who are trying to get on with it, too,” Sonnen stated. “I guarantee that Dana White does not announced that it’s Kamaru versus Leon prior to the end of business on September 10… Is Kamaru giving you what you want to hear for a rematch? … He did not talk about infractions. He did not talk about violations. He did not talk about, ‘I won the striking and the grappling.’
“What if he did share with us another truth? … ‘By the way, I’ve already beaten him once before. Don’t forget about that… The slate is even at one apiece, I’ll see you in part three wherever you wanna set the Octagon up.’ … ‘I’m coming to get back what’s mine. I beat you before, I will beat you again. As a matter of fact, I beat you for four rounds three weeks ago!’ Aren’t those things also true?” Sonnen added.
Sonnen concluded by advising Usman to adjust the narrative somewhat, suggesting that in order to have the contract slid across his desk, he needs to campaign for it by reminding Edwards and the fans of the result of their first fight, as well as the scorecards through four rounds in the rematch.
“I think everything Kamaru is telling you is very sweet, very honest, and very true. But I think there are some other truths that cut a little bit different bit different,” Sonnen said. “Until the contract is signed, I think those are the truths he should be finding, identifying, and speaking to you.”
Do you agree with Chael Sonnen? Does Kamaru Usman need to do more to secure a trilogy bout against Leon Edwards?
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