Britain’s Leon Edwards pulled off a fifth-round head knockdown out of nowhere to dethrone Kamaru Usman and win the UFC welterweight title at UFC 278 on Saturday to cap one of the greatest comebacks in history mixed martial arts.
The 30-year-old Jamaican-born British fighter appeared headed for defeat on the judges’ scorecards when he faked a left-handed jab and then delivered a left-footed kick to the head that prompted the 35 years old old Nigerian to claim the belt.
“They all doubted me, they all said I couldn’t do it, look at me now!” Edwards roared in his post-fight interview in the cage.
Edwards is only the second British fighter to hold a UFC title, following in the footsteps of Michael Bisping, who won the middleweight title in 2016.
Riding a 15-fight winning streak in the UFC heading into the bout, Usman struggled in the first round when Edwards, who he beat in their only previous meeting in 2015, stunned him by taking him to the mat for the first time in his UFC. career
Edwards threatened to end the fight with a subsequent choke, but Usman, who was making his sixth title defense, survived and came roaring back in the second round when Edwards appeared to stumble early on.
Usman, 35, then returned to the type of suffocation that has been the foundation of his fighting style since he turned pro in 2012, backing his opponent to the fence and taking him down at will.
He dominated Edwards and looked like he would retain the belt again until the challenger floored him with that kick with just 56 seconds left in the fight.
“I’m from the trenches, I’m built like this, I fight until the battle is over. I’ve been down all my life, and look at me now!” said an elated Edwards.
Paulo Costa defeated former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold in a unanimous decision in the middleweight bout. Costa had lost two fights in a row when he arrived in Salt Lake City.
Rockhold (returned to the Octagon for the first time in three years and his rust showed as the bout wore on. Costa more than doubled Rockhold in total punches over the first two rounds and eventually dropped him with the bloody mouth in round 3. Rockhold cleaned up). his own blood on Costa’s face in the final seconds of the round as both fighters were locked in a stalemate on the floor.
Merab Dvalishvili overcame former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo in a unanimous decision in the men’s bantamweight bout, earning his eighth straight victory. Aldo had the vocal support of the crowd, but wore down under Dvalishvili’s relentless pressure over three rounds.
Lucie Pudilova defeated Wu Yanan in the women’s bantamweight bout of the main card for her third straight win. Yanan suffered his fourth straight loss. Pudilova earned a TKO at 4:04 of the second round after dragging Yanan to the canvas and repeatedly elbowing her from a back mount.
Tyson Pedro earned a TKO over Harry Hunsucker at 1:05 of the first round of the lightweight bout to round out the main card bouts.
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