After an early scare where the challenger managed to take his back, Kamaru Usman appeared to be cruising to a unanimous decision in the fifth round of his title defense opposite Edwards in the main event of UFC 278.
“Rocky” apparently had other plans, as the 30-year-old landed a head kick with under a minute left in the fight that left the champion flat on his back with his eyes hauntingly still wide-open.
As dramatic as the finish was, many fans have maintained that one head kick doesn’t just erase the fact that Usman was less than a minute away from being 2-0 against Edwards. Usman has handled the loss gracefully and congratulated “Rocky” while also referring to the head kick as being a perfect “Hail Mary” shot.
Makhachev Sees Edwards Getting Outwrestled
One UFC fighter that appears to share Usman’s thoughts on that finishing blow is Islam Makhachev, who claims that the former champion holds the advantage heading into a potential trilogy fight.
“Edwards was lucky because (Usman) beat him all five rounds, almost,” Makhachev told Brett Okamoto of ESPN MMA. “First round, he (Edwards) take him down, take his back, but other rounds he (Usman) beat him very easy — take him down many times and smash him there. When they gonna fight again, rematch, 100% I think Kamaru’s gonna beat him. Same problem, Edwards has same problem; always his wrestling.”
Had Usman managed to hang on for that last minute against Edwards, it would have been his sixth successful defense of the UFC’s welterweight title. “The Nigerian Nightmare” has indicated he plans to take some time off following the loss, but all signs points to the UFC booking a third fight between him and Edwards as soon as possible.
While he was obviously able to take some time to enjoy the action provided by UFC 278, Makhachev is currently busy preparing for his own shot at UFC gold. The 30-year-old is set to face Charles Oliveira for the vacant lightweight title in the main event of UFC 280 on October 22.
“Do Bronx” originally won the title in 2021 by defeating Michael Chandler and defended it once against Dustin Poirier. After missing weight at UFC 274, Oliveira was stripped of the belt prior to his first-round victory over Justin Gaethje.
What do you think of Makhachev’s comments on how a trilogy fight between Usman and Edwards will go?