UFC 278 served up another spectacular night of fights as the latest UFC pay-per-view delivered the goods in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Headlining the bout was a battle for the undisputed UFC welterweight title, and England’s Leon “Rocky” Edwards shocked the world by sensationally knocking out Kamaru Usman with less than a minute left in the final round.
It was an emotional win for Edwards, who became the UK’s second UFC champion, and the first Jamaican-born fighter to capture UFC gold. And that raw emotion was there for all to see when he chatted with Joe Rogan after his stunning knockout victory, as he fired back at the doubters that have plagued him throughout his UFC career.
Emotions were high in the co-main event, too, as middleweight rivals Paulo Costa and Luke Rockhold went toe to toe in a wild three-rounder that, remarkably, managed to go all the way to the judges’ scorecards.
Costa was understandably happy with his night’s work after claiming the unanimous decision victory, while Rockhold was wracked with emotion as he all but confirmed his retirement in his post-fight interview with Rogan. This sport so often shows us the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows, in such close proximity, and that was evident here as Costa moved on with his career, while Rockhold called time on his.
The eagerly-anticipated bantamweight clash between former featherweight champion Jose Aldo and Georgia’s rising contender Merab Dvalishvili produced a cagey, tactical battle, which Dvalishvili won off the back of a higher work rate and willingness to push the pace against the future UFC Hall of Famer.
After his victory, Dvalishvili paid tribute to his opponent, and spoke of his pride in representing his country. And, when asked by Rogan about how having his teammate, Aljamain Sterling, as the champion of his weight class impacts his own title ambitions, Dvalishvili gave an impassioned speech praising his friend and vowing never to face him inside the octagon.
It was a big night for Czech fighter Lucie Pudilova, who returned to the UFC for the first time since 2020 to claim a stoppage victory over Wu Yanan to kick off her second stint with the promotion. Pudilova’s win was her first inside-the-distance victory since her seventh pro fight, and she was clearly over the moon with her performance when she visited with Rogan after her fight.
The main card opener saw a welcome return for Australian fan favourite Tyson Pedro who needed just 65 seconds to finish Harry Hunsucker, who had dropped down from heavyweight to light heavyweight and looked in the best shape of his career. However, Pedro was determined to ensure it was his night as he finished Hunsucker with strikes to score his second first-round finish of 2022.