Monday, October 3, 2022

Edwards Explains Mindset Heading Into Fifth Round With Usman

Leon Edwards knew that he needed a finish in the final round of his fight with Kamaru Usman at UFC 278.

The 30-year-old made a convincing statement in the first round when he became the first man to take Usman down in the UFC. Edwards failed to secure a choke, but the strong opening round was a promising start for his hopes of attaining a UFC title.

Things took a turn after that first round, however, as Usman started to take control and eventually built up a clear lead on the scorecards. While Edwards already had experience going 5 rounds, finding himself several rounds down late in the fight was unfamiliar territory.

“Rocky” was asked at UFC 278’s post-fight press conference if he had expected the fight to go the distance, or if he went into the night thinking he’d need to stop Usman to win the belt.

“I knew I needed a knockout then to win the belt, because I was losing the round (LAUGHS). I knew then going into the fifth round.”

Practice Makes Perfect

Edwards was complementary of his coaches throughout his appearance at the post-fight press conference. His corner had been active throughout the evening, but just before the final round it was clear they were trying to instill the urgency of the moment into their fighter.

“My coach, Coach Dave, was saying like, ‘Listen, this is the last round now. Fix up, you know? We’ve worked too hard, your path has been too hard for you now to come in and give it away.’ And that’s the motivation I needed. They know how to push my buttons, and that’s what they did.”

Even with the encouragement from his corner, Edwards didn’t exactly storm the champion in the final round. With time winding down, it looked as if things were headed to the scorecards and Usman would have his hand raised for a sixth defense of his welterweight title.

(Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

There was less than a minute remaining when “Rocky” threw a jab and followed up with a head kick from the same side. The kick caught Usman perfectly and sent him crashing to the mat, but Edwards already knew there was no need to dive in for follow-up punches.

“That was a combination that we drilled in the gym. Like I said, he’s very boxing orientated. As far as his slipping and moving, but he slipped right into a head kick, you know?”

What do you think of Edwards’ explanation of how he felt in the final round against Usman?

Related Articles