After Edwards (19-3 MMA, 11-2 UFC) claimed the welterweight title from Usman (20-2 MMA, 15-1 UFC) with amazing head kick knockout in Saturday’s fifth round UFC 278 headliner at Vivint Arena, a whole new world of opportunity opened up for the promotion in England.
The UFC has never staged a stadium event on Edwards’ home soil, but White admits there is some serious temptation to stage the rubber match at Wembley Stadium in London, which has a capacity of around 90,000. Historically, however, White has been very resistant to outdoor venues, and that hasn’t necessarily changed.
“How can you not – f*ck, Wembley,” White told MMA Junkie and other reporters after the fight at the UFC 278 post-fight news conference. “I don’t know. Yes (I want to do it in England). … We could go to England whenever the hell we want now. We could go to England – we sold out England before. Now you’re looking at, are you making a bigger arena? I’m afraid to go out, and I’m certainly afraid to go out in England. I’m serious, but joking about England. Everything is possible now in England. It would be fun, but scary at the same time. The weather is not the best in England.”
Fortunately for White, the promotion will have some time to figure out the best way forward. Usman is likely to receive a significant medical suspension after such a violent knockout, and with the UFC calendar already booked in the first month of 2023, White said there is not necessarily a rush to fix anything.
“I don’t think (Edwards) should sit and wait anyway for the knockout,” White said. “I don’t think he should have waited so long. He should go back into camp and start training anyway. First of all, we should have the date. We’re all booked up until – I think we’re booked up until January now. There will be no expectation from him, even if it is a rematch.”
White said Edwards’ title-winning knockout was another reflection of the crazy, unpredictable nature of MMA. He thought Usman was on his way to record yet another title defense, but in the blink of an eye, everything changed.
“You think about everything that was on the line for Usman tonight, and Usman fought with absolute and total confidence all night,” White said. “He fought the perfect fight. Maybe not the favorite style, but he landed big shots to the body, big shots to the head, elbows. Couldn’t have fought a more perfect battle until the last minute.
“It’s how crazy the sport is. It is what makes this sport the greatest sport in the world. That you can sit through four rounds and four minutes and that can happen in a fight. Anything is possible in this sport. Every time we do a fight and it’s like, ‘This is lopsided, one-sided bullshit – there are no lopsided, one-sided fights in this sport. Everything is possible. I told you this week, the problem with this fight is that people won’t give Leon enough credit and he is a very dangerous opponent. Wow.”
For more on the card, visit the MMA Junkie event for UFC 278.