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“Look at me now!”
Those four words couldn’t describe Leon Edwards’ miraculous comeback in the main event of UFC 278 Saturday night at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Down three rounds to one and seemingly dejected as then-UFC Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman had controlled the fight from the second round on, Edwards caught Usman with a vicious head kick that put the champion out cold and flat on the canvas with 56 seconds left.
HOLY S**T!!!! @LEON_EDWARDSMMA IS THE WW CHAMPION OF THE WORLD!!! #UFC278 pic.twitter.com/Ms9rwG1Ota
— UFC (@ufc) August 21, 2022
In a sport that has provided so many first-time moments, another was born in the Octagon as Edwards became the 13th champion of the division.
“I’m from the trenches,” Edwards said in his post-fight interview. “I’m built like this. I do it for Birmingham [England]. I told them it was possible that we can win a belt from the UK.”
Edwards now hasn’t lost in 11-consecutive fights dating back to 2016, when he lost to Usman in their first meeting.
Usman suffered his first loss in his eight years inside the Octagon and falls to 20-2 overall in his Mixed Martial Arts career.
UFC 278 results
Paulo Costa def. Luke Rockhold via unanimous decision
In the featured middleweight bout of the evening, Luke Rockhold returned to the Octagon for the first time since 2019 against the dangerous Brazilian. Due to Rockhold’s age and lack of recent time in the ring, the Utah altitude got to him and Costa took advantage to win the fight. However, Rockhold went out on his shield and provided some huge shots that rocked Costa and gave him a scare that nearly opened the door for a potential upset.
Following the fight, Rockhold announced his retirement from MMA at the age of 37. He finishes his career with a record of 16-6 and was the UFC Middleweight champion for six months between Dec. 2015-Jun. 2016.
Merab Dvalishvili def. José Aldo via unanimous decision
Despite Aldo’s swift, powerful striking prowess, Dvalishvili applied the grappling pressure to hold the future Hall of Famer at bay for three rounds and outclass him in close quarters. Aldo stuffed 16 takedown attempts, according to UFC Stats, but didn’t do much to counteract the volume Dvalishvili was delivering while in the clinch. Aldo has now lost four of his last seven fights while Dvalishvili has won eight in a row.
Heavyweight Tyson Pedro and bantamweight Lucie Pudilová picked up highlight wins to open the pay-per-view portion of UFC 278.
Pedro racked up a first-round TKO of Harry Hansucker while Pudilová beat Wu Yanan by TKO in the second round. It was a key win for Pudilová as she collected a win in her second stint with the UFC. She was cut from the promotion early in 2020 after losing four straight.
Next up for the UFC will be a Fight Night card as the promotion makes its first trip to Paris, France, which will be headlined by a massive heavyweight title eliminator between Ciryl Gane and Tai Tuivasa.
The next pay-per-view card, UFC 279, is scheduled for Sept. 10, 2022 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada and will be headlined by Khamzat Chimaev and Nate Diaz.