Few people had Leon Edwards winning the main event at UFC 278, both before and during the bout. The Brit was down on the scorecards and heading for a decision defeat before pulling out an epic head kick to KO Kamaru Usman and wrest away the UFC welterweight title.
That KO wasn’t the first loss in Usman’s career, he was defeated by submission in his second ever fight back in 2013, but it was the first time he has been stopped with strikes or really seemed to be hurt from a strike.
According to UFC President Dana White, Usman is likely to get an immediate chance to avenge this loss, with a trilogy bout between he and Edwards already in the works.
Oddsmakers have Usman as the favourite for that bout right now. Someone else who thinks ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ will triumph is former UFC lightweight champion—and fellow Dominance MMA client—Khabib Nurmagomedov.
The retired fighter gave his reaction to the fight, which has been shared online.
“I was surprised. You could even say a little bit upset,” said Nurmagomedov. “Because I have a good friendship with Kamaru. And of course it was hard to watch, as the best fighter in the world, who he is right now, get knocked out severely with 50 seconds remaining in the bout.”
Nurmagomedov added that he was sure Usman would win the fight with Edwards especially after witnessing Usman’s performance in the early rounds.
“Yes, I was thinking that this is essentially how the contest will finish just like everyone else. But these fights are MMA and you can see by yourself for a second it all went wrong, put his hand in the wrong place and your lights could go out if the proper defence is not in place. You can wake up in the locker room and it’s over.”
When asked if he had spoken with Usman, Nurmagomedov said that he plans to do so in the coming days.
“I always try to communicate with the fighters after a couple of days,” he said. “Three, four days. Given that everyone has already made an effort to contact them. The emotions are still present. Naturally, I’ll call everyone after things have calmed down.”
As far as what happens next, Nurmagomedov said he was confident that his friend could win a trilogy fight with Edwards. However, he warned, a knockout loss like Usman suffered does have the potential to change a fighter for good.
“I’m aware that the trilogy is already in the works. I believe he can beat Leon Edwards. But after such a knockout, a lot of people don’t recover. It will be interesting to see. But I would love to see a trilogy, they are 1-1.”