It was the kick heard ’round the world.
Kamaru Usman — the reigning welterweight champ and pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world heading into Saturday’s UFC 278 — was showing exactly why he hadn’t lost a fight since 2013 in his title tilt against Leon Edwards.
After being taken down for the first time in the UFC in the first round, Usman charged back with a flurry of big strikes in rounds 2-4, his legendary wrestling pedigree shining through as he looked to complete another title defense.
Round 5 was the same exact story. Usman, who trains at high altitude in Denver, CO, appeared fresh and lively, remaining on the attack as his opponent scrambled to quell the onslaught. And while Usman’s conditioning pushed him forward, Edwards looked as good as defeated, making little effort to retaliate and go out with a “bang.”
Instead though, as the clock ticked under a minute, Edwards closed the curtain on Usman with a stunning shot, faking out his foe with a deft lefty jab and coaxing Usman right into his fast-approaching foot.
Shocking isn’t the word to describe the turnaround. It was dumbfounding, and it left the entire audience in a glop of collective speechlessness.
But Monday morning, he put his awe from Saturday into words.
“… Edwards is a different fighter than the one that lost to Usman in 2015. He was doing a great job catching Usman with some nice shots, but Usman was winning the rounds. What Usman did was slip a punch, and lean a little bit too far, and that left foot planted perfectly upside his head.
“That’s the thing about UFC … Until the bell goes off in the fifth, nobody is out of a fight, because like that — a foot, an elbow, a fist — it’s over! As soon as it landed, it was over. [Referee] Herb Dean just came over because he knew [Usman] wasn’t getting up from that. … One mistake and it’s [over].”
Leon Edwards snatches Kamaru Usman’s UFC title with last-minute KO
Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe share their reactions to the mind-blowing comeback from Leon Edwards at UFC 278.
Edwards hoisting the belt as the new welterweight champion was not a result Skip Bayless foresaw at all.
“I said, ‘I’m not going to buy that fight,’ Bayless reflected. “I’ll just watch the results on the computer. … I’m watching with one eye, and all of a sudden … What? As Dana White said, this is what makes this sport the greatest in the world.
“Usman fought with absolute and total confidence the entire night. He fought the perfect fight. Well, almost, except for mere seconds left.”
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