On August 20, Edwards changed the landscape of the 170-pound division, the pound-for-pound rankings, and the UFC as a whole by delivering a head kick heard around the globe. Four rounds into his rematch with previously dominant kingpin Kamaru Usman, “Rocky” looked down and out.
But if the Jamaican-born Brit’s rise to prominence in MMA has taught us anything, it’s that he can never be counted out.
With a minute left of the fight, Edwards turned things around with one blow, knocking Usman unconscious with a perfectly set up and timed left head kick. But while the KO and the jubilant celebrations that followed have been replayed over and over, one moment before the fight-ending strike has gone viral.
Prior to the fifth round, Edward looked somewhat dejected having seen rounds two to four fall away from him. Enter Team Renegade coach Lovell, who delivered one of the most impactful metaphorical shoves up the backside seen in the UFC.
The clip of Lovell’s motivational corner work has been viewed millions of times, with one video showing Lovell’s advice throughout the fight, accompanied by the Rocky theme song.
During an appearance on The MMA Hour following his underdog triumph, Edwards discussed the viral clip, first explaining his feelings as he entered his corner for the final time.
“I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself. It’s hard to explain it,” Edwards said. “I was thinking, ‘There’s no way this is playing out like this.’ I think he (Lovell) could tell by my face… That’s why he said, ‘Stop feeling sorry for yourself, switch on. You more than deserve to be here. You can beat this guy. You can do it. Go out there and do it,’ and that’s what I did.”
Edwards Credits “Father Figure” Coach Lovell
When asked whether Lovell’s body language and the delivery of his words was commonplace, Edwards noted that whilst he’s used to similar speeches, the intensity was certainly heightened inside Salt Lake City’s Vivint Arena.
And while the MMA community has widely praised Lovell’s part in the come-from-behind championship win, those close to the new welterweight king have also shared similar sentiments, including Edwards’ mother.
“It’s been like that before, but not like, that intense,” Edwards said. “But he’s deffo been like that before. Even in training and other stuff. I’ve grown to look at him as father figure. My mom saw the video and she voice-note me this morning like, just crying, you know, saying, ‘Tell Dave thank you, because I could tell that he really cared about you.’
“It was like a minute-long voice note of her crying, saying, ‘Tell Dave thank you… I’m happy you have someone like that with you in your corner.’ For that to come from my mom, it’s amazing man, and he did a great job,” Edwards added.
When Edwards was 13, his father was shot and killed in a nightclub. Having drifted to criminal activities himself, his mother pushed him towards mixed martial arts, where he met Lovell. With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the coach has developed into a father figure for the 30-year-old.
“(I’ve known him) since I started MMA. I think I was 18. When I walked into the gym, I wasn’t working with Dave before. He was there, but we weren’t close,” Edwards recalled. “We got close two or three years in, started working more with him. He’s got a few sons as well who are similar ages, so I got close with his sons. From then, I’ve adopted him like a father figure.”
Having listened to Lovell’s advice en route to a memorable victory in the states, Edwards will be hoping that he won’t need that motivation next time out. “Rocky” is expected to collide with Usman for a third time next year, with talk of a home defense for the Englishman arising.
What did you make of Dave Lovell’s corner work prior to the final round?