England’s Leon Edwards produced one of the most spectacular title fight knockouts in UFC history to dramatically dethrone Kamaru Usman and capture the undisputed UFC welterweight title in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Edwards was trailing on the scorecards when he produced a stunning head kick to knock out Usman with less than a minute remaining in their five-round title bout at the Vivint Arena.
Edwards started superbly and became the first fighter to take Usman down in the champion’s UFC career as he moved into mount, then switched to his back and threatened to lock up a rear-naked choke.
But, after a strong opener, Edwards started to slow down in the rounds that followed, as Usman pushed the pace on the challenger. Mixing up his strikes and takedowns, Usman started to dominate proceedings as he bossed the action through Rounds 2, 3, and 4, as Edwards was unable to repeat his success of the opening round.
It looked like the Englishman’s chance was slipping away, but “Rocky” had one more move in his locker. He teased a left hand that prompted Usman to dip to his right, and Edwards unleashed a perfectly-timed left high kick that connected clean on the side of the champion’s head, knocking him out instantly.
— UFC on TNT Sports (@ufcontnt) August 21, 2022
The Vivint Arena erupted as Edwards wheeled away in celebration after one of the most stunning finishes ever seen in a UFC title fight. He then gave an emotional post-fight speech as he fired back at his doubters, repeating the same line over and over again during his address, “Look at me now!”
“You all doubted me, (and said) I couldn’t do it – look at me now!” said Edwards.
“I’m from the trenches. I’m built like this. I’ve been doubted my whole life but look at me now.
“Look at it! Pound-for-pound. Headshot. Dead. That’s it!”
Edwards’ stunning win meant he became the first Jamaican-born fighter to win UFC gold, and only the second fighter from the UK to capture a UFC championship, following in the footsteps of Michael Bisping, who won the UFC middleweight title at UFC 199 in June 2016.
Costa prevails as Rockhold calls it a career
The co-main event clash between Paulo Costa and Luke Rockhold delivered a bout few could possibly have predicted, as the pair battled back and forth in a wild middleweight matchup that, somehow, made it all the way to the judges’ scorecards.
Costa held the upper hand throughout the three-round bout, but Rockhold, despite battling severe fatigue and bleeding from his mouth and nose, produced a performance of sheer stubbornness as he refused to be finished by the power-punching Brazilian, who tried to stop the former champion with his strikes, then his grappling, and was unable to do so.
After three incident-packed rounds, the judges all scored the fight 30-27 to Costa, who celebrated his win, while an emotional Rockhold revealed that his defeat in Salt Lake City would be his final appearance inside the UFC octagon.
— Simon Head (@simonhead) August 21, 2022
Dvalishvili edges toward bantamweight summit
Earlier on the main card, bantamweight contenders collided as Merab Dvalishvili claimed the biggest win of his UFC career by outpointing former featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
Dvalishvili was relentless from start to finish as he pushed the pace on the Brazilian and attempted a plethora of takedowns, all of which were stuffed by Aldo. Despite this, Dvalishvili’s aggression and forward pressure helped him earn the nod from all three judges, who scored the bout 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 in the Georgian’s favour.
🗣 BY UNANIMOUS DECISION!!
— UFC (@ufc) August 21, 2022
After the bout, Dvalishvili explained just how much of an influence his training partner and reigning UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling is for his career, as he vowed he would never face his friend inside the octagon.
UFC 278: Official Results
- Leon Edwards def. Kamaru Usman via knockout (head kick) – Round 5, 4:04 – for welterweight title
- Paulo Costa def. Luke Rockhold via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Merab Dvalishvili def. Jose Aldo via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Lucie Pudilova def. Wu Yanan via TKO (elbows) – Round 2, 4:04
- Tyson Pedro def. Harry Hunsucker via TKO (body kick and punches) – Round 1, 1:05
- Marcin Tybura def. Alexandr Romanov via majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)
- Jared Gordon def. Leonardo Santos via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Luis Saldana vs. Sean Woodson ruled a split draw (29-27, 27-29, 28-28)
- Ange Loosa def. A.J. Fletcher via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Amir Albazi def. Francisco Figueiredo via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:34
- Aoriqileng def. Jay Perrin via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Victor Altamirano def. Daniel Da Silva via TKO (punches and elbows) – Round 1, 3:39