In the main event of last night’s UFC 278 Leon Edwards completed one of the most epic comebacks in MMA history. Edwards KO’d Kamaru Usman to win the UFC welterweight title in the fifth round, while losing to the now former champ on the scorecards.
The comeback trail for Edwards started back in 2015, when he dropped a decision to Usman. Since then neither man has lost. Usman was able to put together a string of victories that clinched him the title and lead to five defenses. Edwards beat all who was put in front of him, but suffered from injuries, fight cancellations and overall bad luck before finally getting—and taking—his shot at the title.
In his post-fight press conference UFC President Dana White spoke about the wild main event and what could come next for both competitors.
“I thought that Usman fought the perfect fight,” said White (ht MMA Fighting). “It was crazy, because I was listening to the commentary and [Joe] Rogan and [Jon] Anik and [Daniel Cormier] were dead on with everything they were saying on what Edwards needed to do and what he should be doing. As soon as they were saying it, he literally lands the head kick.”
“You think of everything that was on the line for Usman tonight, and Usman fought with absolute and total confidence all night,” White continued. “He fought the perfect fight. It might not be the most fan friendly style, but he was landing big shots to the body, big shots to the head, elbows. Couldn’t have fought a more perfect fight until the last minute.”
White talked up last night’s contest as a perfect example of what makes mixed martial arts a great spectator sport. White also said it served as an example to never count out a title challenger, especially one as skilled as Edwards.
“It’s how crazy this sport is. It’s what makes this sport the greatest sport in the world. That you can sit through four rounds and four minutes and that can happen in a fight. Anything’s possible in this sport. Every time we make a fight and it’s like ‘this is one-sided, lopsided’ — there are no lopsided, one-sided fights in this sport. Anything is possible. I said this week talking to you guys, the problem is people won’t give Leon enough credit and he’s a very dangerous opponent. Wow.
“We’re probably in a situation, there was a minute left in the fight, we probably had people getting up and walking out because it was looking like this was going to be a shutout for Usman and boom, a head kick. It’s what makes this sport so great, so exciting and why it’s so fun. You can never take it for granted and think that something’s over until it’s over.”
As far as what happens next, White is only thinking about one thing: Edwards vs. Usman 3.
“How do you not [do a trilogy]? Yeah [I want to do it in England],” White revealed. “I don’t think [Leon would] have to sit and wait anyway. He wouldn’t have to wait that long. He’d have to go back into camp and start training anyway.
“First of all, we’d have to have the date. I think we’re booked up into January now. There will be no waiting for him, even if it’s a rematch.”
Prior to last night Usman had been discussing the possibly of vacating his welterweight title and moving up in weight. He had claimed that he would try his luck at light heavyweight (skipping middleweight due to his friendship with champion Israel Adesanya).
However, now it seems Usman is likely to stick around at 170 lbs for at least one more fight.