As we approach the end of August, MMA fans will be reflecting on a month that included one of the biggest come-from-behind victories seen inside the Octagon, and one that came with astronomical stakes attached to it.
Through four rounds of the August 20 headliner in Utah, Edwards appeared down and out. But while most spoke of the final minutes as if the fight was as good as over, “Rocky” wasn’t finished.
With a minute until his title hopes fell away, Edwards launched a perfectly set up left head kick, knocking Usman out cold and securing a memorable championship moment — only the second for a fighter from the United Kingdom.
While it may have been a week ago, the memorable shot that closed out the first Salt Lake City-held PPV is still being replayed across the globe, with fans, fighters, and pundits alike largely astonished that Usman’s lengthy reign and win streak came to an end in such a brutal fashion.
That includes the man himself, who has admitted to being “in awe” at the kick that rendered him unconscious for the first time in mixed martial arts.
Usman: ‘It Was A Beautiful Technique’
During an interview with TMZ Sports, Usman reflected on his first UFC loss, which ended a reign that had already included five defenses and blemished his previously perfect UFC record.
Continuing to take the setback in his stride, Usman once again praised the delivery of his opponent’s fight-ending strike, which saw the Brit fake a jab in order to force his rival to dip his head right into a disguised head kick. “The Nigerian Nightmare” admitted that everything about it was “money.”
“It was just a beautiful technique,” Usman said. “Beautifully timed — and he threw head kicks throughout the fight, but I blocked them all. That one was just money. I’m like, I’m almost in awe of how good it was. But it happens. Champions fall and they get back up and show you why they’re champions.”
Since the defeat, Usman has appeared upbeat and positive on social media. Perhaps that’s largely due to the fact that he appears certain to receive an immediate opportunity to regain the belt and his status as pound-for-pound number one, which now belongs to featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski.
Should the trilogy between Edwards and Usman go down in England, as UFC President Dana White teased post-UFC 278, “The Nigerian Nightmare” will be targeting revenge in enemy territory.
The champ, meanwhile, will be looking to envision a long-awaited moment of victory in front of his home fans, maybe even with another highlight-reel finish.
Where do you rank Leon Edwards’ head-kick KO among the best in history?