Leon Edwards Defies Expectations With UFC 278 Title Victory

Leon Edwards dropped Kamaru Usman with a kick to the head and neck in the final minute of the fifth round to win the welterweight championship at UFC 278 on Saturday night.

Usman appeared to be seconds away from a 16th consecutive victory, which would have tied an all-time UFC record, before Edwards came up with the stunning finish just in time. He delivered the knockout blow with 56 seconds left in the bout.

“That crosshead kick landed perfectly,” Edwards said.

Edwards (20-3) is undefeated dating back to his previous bout with Usman in 2015. The British fighter rose to No. 2 in the welterweight division while accumulating nine wins in that stretch ahead of the title bout.

Usman (20-2) lived up to his reputation as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world for much of the bout. The Nigerian weathered a late first-round takedown and turned the tables with a late second-round takedown. Usman controlled position throughout the third round, earning two more takedowns, and led 39-37 on the judges’ scorecards after four rounds. He appeared on his way to a win by unanimous decision before Edwards rallied in the final round.

“The octagon belongs to nobody,” Edwards said. “No man is meant to hold the belt for that long. I said all week I felt like this was my moment. This is how it was meant to play out.”

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