Bellator champ apologized for getting in Leon Edwards’ face

A Bellator champ spat on a UFC champ's brother, then got in his face. Now he's apologizing.

By: Tim Bissell | 2 months ago
Bellator champ apologized for getting in Leon Edwards’ face
Johnny Eblen. IMAGO/ZUMA Wire/Matt Davies

Did Bellator champ Johnny Eblen spit on his opponent?

Johnny Eblen may not be a household name. However, his record does speak for itself. The American stretched his record to 14-0 this weekend after of dispatching of Fabian Edwards in the main event of Bellator 299 in Dublin (not without suffering a ghastly wound, though). With the win he retained his Bellator middleweight title.

The win was not without controversy, though. Eblen has been accused of spitting on his opponent during the climax of their match. An X user shared footage of the incident, claiming it was “clear as day” that Eblen spat after eliciting a stoppage from brutal ground and pound.

Judge for yourself here:

After the fight was waved off, Eblen then got in the face of Edward’s older brother – UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards. Eblen appeared to be mouthing “you’re next.” Edwards is currently booked to fight Colby Covington at UFC 296.

Johnny Eblen apologizes for incident with UFC champ Leon Edwards

In his post-fight press conference Johnny Eblen expressed some contrition for what happened after the fight with Leon Edwards.

“A lot of emotions, bro,” said Eblen when asked about the incident before expressing that he hopes Edwards beats Colby Covington when they meet later this year.

“I f****** hate Colby. That dude sucks,” added Eblen.

Eblen then discussed how much he wanted to compete against Edwards in the future.

“I want to fight him, too. He’s one of the best guys in the world and I want to prove I’m one of the best in the world. You have to fight everybody. He’s not in my weight class, but he might up to 185 eventually.”

Eblen said he went over to Edwards after the in-cage incident and apologized. “I went over after and said, ‘Sorry my emotions were high.’ I squashed the beef. I don’t have anything wrong with him. I just want to fight the guy.”

Eblen was not asked about the alleged spitting incident.

Johnny Eblen might not be Bellator champ for long

The 31-year-old Eblen won the Bellator middleweight title with a win over Gegard Mousasi at Bellator 282 in 2022. With the win over Fabian Edwards he now has two title defenses to his name, the first being a decision win over Anatoly Tokov in February.

Eblen’s reign as Bellator champ may be cut short, though. And not because of anything he might do inside the cage.

Rumours abound that Bellator MMA is on its last legs. A few months back there were rumblings that PFL had explored options to purchase Bellator.

Newer rumours state that Showtime, Bellator’s official broadcast partner, is looking to drastically reduce its committment to combat sports.

If Bellator is on the way out, Eblen may be the last middleweight champion in the promotion’s history.

The first 185 lb champion in the promotion was Hector Lombard, who beat Jared Hess at Bellator 12 in 2009. Lombard then vacated the belt to join the UFC in 2012.

Alexander Shlemenko (who lost to Lombard in Lombard’s lone title defence) then won the vacant title after beating Maiquel Falcao at Bellator 88 in 2013. He defended the belt three times before losing to Brandon Halsey in 2014.

Halsey was stripped of the title when he missed weight for a defense against Kendall Grove at Bellator 137 in 2015. He TKO’d Grove, leaving the belt vacant again.

Rafael Carvalho claimed the belt a few months later, defeating Halsey at Bellator 144. He defended the belt three times before Gegard Mousasi beat him at Bellator 200 in 2018.

Mousasi defends the belt versus Rory McDonald and then lost it to Rafael Lovato Jr. Lovato vacated the belt when he retired from MMA due to a medical condition.

Mousasi won the vacant belt back with a win over Douglas Lima in 2020. He defended that twice before Eblen arrived on the scene.

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About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

Tim is also BE's lead (only) sumo reporter. He blogs about that sport here and on his own substack, Sumo Stomp!

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