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Leon Edwards just shocked the world. The “Rocky” story of Edwards came to life with a come-from-behind, head-kick knockout late in Round 5 of the main event of UFC 278 on Saturday night.
After becoming the first person to score a takedown on the nearly perfect champion in Round 1, Edwards struggled in the following rounds to build any kind of momentum. Usman took over the fight with his superior wrestling and slung heavy boxing combinations and seemed on his way to yet another title defense as he neared Anderson Silva’s record for most all time.
Usman’s pace slowed in Round 5, but it was likely leading towards a unanimous decision win for the champ as Edwards seemed defeated in his corner as his team begged him to come to life in the final round.
Suddenly, Edwards flicked out a right jab and fired up a left head kick that knocked Usman out cold at 4:04 of Round 5.
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“Pound-for-pound. Headshot. Dead,” Edwards told UFC commentator Joe Rogan during his post-fight interview. “I said all week I felt like this is my moment. Everything that happened in the past. The last two years, the pandemic. There is no ring rust. I told you, now look at me now.”
Edwards improved to 20-3 (1 NC) with the win over Usman. His undefeated streak improved to 11. Usman saw his 19-fight winning streak snap in the blink of an eye and suffered his first loss in nine years.
It was the fourth latest finish in a championship fight — just seconds short of Usman’s own finish of Colby Covington in 2019.
Usman remained optimistic about his future. The former champion took to Twitter and promised to return with a vengeance.
Champs f$ck up sometimes… but we bounce back and come with vengeance!! 👊🏿🌍🤴🏿 #NGHTMR
UFC president Dana White, during a post-fight press conference with the media, insisted on a trilogy. White suggested Wembley as a venue and expressed his desire to see the rubber match in England.
“I thought that Usman fought the perfect fight,” White said. “You think of everything that was on the line for Usman tonight. Usman fought with absolute and total confidence all night. It might not be the most fan-friendly style but he was landing big shots to the body, big shots to the head and elbows. He couldn’t have fought a more perfect fight until the last minute.”
Edwards is confident that UFC fans have yet to see the best of him. He said that his worst performance still led to a knockout over the best that Usman had to offer.
“That was one of my worst performances out there,” Edwards said at the presser. “I did not feel good in there tonight. I went out there and knocked out the pound-for-pound.
“My body just wasn’t reacting how it was meant to react. I don’t know if it was the altitude or what it was. But even backstage watching other fighters on the TV, everyone was getting tired and gassing out. Like Luke [Rockhold] and everybody. I was wondering why everybody was tiring out. After the first round, I felt it. I felt my body wasn’t reacting. It wasn’t a cardio issue, it was more like my body wasn’t physically reacting.
“That was the best he had to offer. That was the worst I had to offer and I still knocked him out.”
Edwards also expressed an interest in fighting Masvidal in the U.K. should “Gamebred” get back to his winning ways.
Plus, Paulo Costa and Rockhold battled over 15 grueling minutes before Costa was declared the winner. Rockhold left everything he had in the cage, including smearing his blood in Costa face in the final moments of the fight. And Merab Dvalishvili asserted himself atop the pile of contenders at bantamweight with a thorough win over Jose Aldo, but don’t expect him to be facing his friend and teammate — current titleholder Aljamain Sterling — any time soon as the native of Georgia shut down any of that talk immediately after the fight.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way on Saturday bringing you all the results and highlights from the UFC 278 below.
Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards — Round 5: Edwards and Usman fought a relatively subdued fifth round. Usman was generally the aggressor as Edwards tried to find space for his long-range weapons. The referee paused the action for an alleged kick below the belt by Edwards. “Rocky” threw low kicks to the outside and Usman was non-committal in response. Edwards feinted a right jab and hurled a head kick that stiffed up Kamaru Usman. Knock out and you have a new champion! Official result: Leon Edwards def. Kamaru Usman via KO, Round 5
HOLY S**T!!!! @LEON_EDWARDSMMA IS THE WW CHAMPION OF THE WORLD!!! #UFC278 pic.twitter.com/Ms9rwG1Ota
Two incredible finishes are sending @Leon_EdwardsMMA & @Vic__Altamirano home with POTN bonuses 💰
[ B2YB @BattleMotors | #UFC278 ] pic.twitter.com/kp81kLXlGx
The moment it hit @Leon_EdwardsMMA what he just did 📸#UFC278 pic.twitter.com/Xa4lXZvhx5
Watch as @Leon_EdwardsMMA speaks to his mother for the first time after becoming the undisputed WW champion of the world 🌎 #UFC278 pic.twitter.com/fv6fesNGDg
Watch as @Leon_EdwardsMMA speaks to his family for the first time after becoming the undisputed WW champion of the world 🌎 #UFC278 pic.twitter.com/wXnxuxcvv0
As sad as I am, I can’t not be happy for Leon Edwards from where he came from to make it here and what he been through. Congratulations @Leon_edwardsmma !!!
An amazing scene to witness! Huge congrats Leon! A real good, solid and dedicated mixed martial artist! The uk’s second only ufc champion! Incredible! Congrats mate! @ParadigmSports
The @VivintArena crowd can’t believe what they just saw 🤯 #UFC278 pic.twitter.com/VmozrXrlGH
“LOOK AT HIM NOW!” 🗣#UFC278 #ANDNEW pic.twitter.com/45wl5uOtmW
#ANDNEW! @Leon_EdwardsMMA is the WW champion of the world!
[ B2YB @WomanKingMovie | #UFC278 ] pic.twitter.com/j6yAqbd4bC
Just like that baby, what a game! Huge congrats @ParadigmSports and Leon Edwards! ANOTHER CHAMPION!
Usman Seconds of away from retaining the belt and an INSANE headkick KO from Leon Edwards! WOW! Jamaica 🇯🇲has another UFC champion! I smell a trilogy!! #UFC278
Man this sport is unpredictable 😭😭😭
THAT’S OUR WORLD CHAMP RIGHT THERE 🏆 #UFC278 pic.twitter.com/sEM31iOhdM
The kick heard around the world! 😳🤯 Congrats @Leon_edwardsmma! Trilogy fight coming soon! Respect to @USMAN84kg #UFC278
OMG @Leon_edwardsmma 🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯
LEON! He did it! #UFC278
That was INSANE 🤯 #UFC279 #ROCKY
We wrote his obituary! Wow congrats on a championship high kick @Leon_edwardsmma you’re the man now! #ufc278
🗣 DOUBT HIM NOW!
🔊 Huge round needed from Rocky as we hit the fifth and final for this championship tilt. #UFC278 pic.twitter.com/gCB4YnhmPN
The fifth and final round starts NOW 🍿 #UFC278 pic.twitter.com/bKhyBXedpv
Usman’s a savage yoooo #ufc278
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