At UFC 278, Edwards produced one of the greatest comebacks and best knockouts in UFC history by knocking out Kamaru Usman with a head kick in the fifth round to win the welterweight championship.
Edwards’ shocking KO capped an evening that also featured a contender for Fight of the Year, the emergence of a new bantamweight championship contender, and possibly the final performance of a former UFC champion.
With so much to talk about, let’s examine the five most important lessons from UFC 278.
Edwards has endured more scepticism in recent years than almost any other fighter. Edwards was regarded as the red-headed stepchild of the welterweight category, despite his unbeaten streak of ten bouts. A two-year absence from the sport due to injuries and a global epidemic rendered Edwards the division’s forgotten man.
Even when he was given a shot at the championship, many dismissed his chances. After all, Edwards had previously lost to Kamaru Usman, and since then “The Nigerian Nightmare” had established himself as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport and one of the greatest fighters of all time, while Edwards was nearly defeated by Nate Diaz. What chance did he truly have?
Even though he won the opening round of their rematch, Usman had unquestionably gained control of the fight by the end of the third round, and even his most ardent admirers were beginning to express scepticism. Edwards’ trainers could be heard in his corner imploring with him not to be bullied, to fight back, to come forward instead of back, and to let his strikes fly, but Edwards showed no enthusiasm.
The fourth round was Usman’s best, with an irresistible force twisting Edwards’ will to his own, as he had done numerous times previously. As the bout entered its last round, no one in the arena or at home believed Edwards could win. Simply put, he was defeated by a superior fighter.
Edwards did not believe this, though. While Edwards unquestionably appeared agitated at several moments during the fight, he never appeared shattered, as Leon Edwards is not a man who is broken by little things like as receiving an arse kick.
Edwards rushed forward, flashed his hands, and unleashed a high kick behind the jab, which Usman dove directly into, blasting his consciousness from him like a shot throw, as time was running out on his Cinderella narrative and he needed a finish to win. Leon Edwards was responsible. He was the world champion at welterweight.
MMA is the best sport in the world because it celebrates spectacular chaos and, as a result, produces some of the most genuinely affecting moments in sports. Edwards was born into poverty, lost his father at a young age, slipped into a destructive and hazardous lifestyle, was able to pull himself out of it, faced multiple career disappointments, and ultimately achieved his life’s goal.
When Alexander Volkanovski talks about proving his detractors wrong, his words ring hollow, as any reservations the featherweight champion has ever encountered have been tiny and inconsequential. But as Leon Edwards cries to his mother while holding the belt, “Mum, I love you!” his eyes are filled with tears. I promised to do it for you.
Mum. “I told you I would transform our life” is everything since he should not have been able to accomplish it. He faced an overwhelming number of obstacles. Before Edwards, the sceptics were not incorrect.
Edwards cried, screamed, and celebrated once the belt was placed around his waist, repeating the same pronouncement over and over: “Y’all doubted me and thought I couldn’t do it.
You all said I couldn’t do it. “Now, look at me!” It was a trumpet scream of righteous vindication, a demonstration that he had been correct all along and that his truth was in fact the truth. In mixed martial arts, there have been greater upsets, but only Michael Bisping’s own title victory felt more deserving. This is the sort of stuff you’d see in a movie, and now everyone is staring at Leon. Each individual.