UFC 278: Leon Edwards shocks Kamaru Usman to win UFC welterweight title

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Leon Edwards knocks out Kamaru Usman
Edwards inflicted the first defeat of Usman’s UFC career

Britain’s Leon Edwards sensationally knocked out Kamaru Usman to win the welterweight title at UFC 278 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Behind on points in the fifth, Edwards, 30, landed a left high-kick to stun Nigeria’s pound-for-pound number one fighter.

Edwards becomes the first British champion since Michael Bisping in 2016 and only the second in history.

“You all doubted me, saying I couldn’t do it – look at me now,” said Edwards.

“I’m from the trenches. I’m built like this. I’ve been doubted my whole life but look at me now.”

In beating Usman, Birmingham’s Edwards avenges his defeat in 2015 and ends the 35-year-old’s 15-fight unbeaten streak in the UFC.

Jamaican-born Edwards, who was a big underdog with bookmakers going into the bout, extends his winning streak to 10 following the defeat to Usman seven years ago.

Usman won the first fight by using his wrestling to control the majority of the contest – a tactic Edwards says opened his eyes to weaknesses in his own grappling game.

Following that bout Edwards worked hard on his wrestling and the improvements made were evident from the start of the rematch.

In the first round he tripped Usman, becoming the first fighter in UFC history to complete a takedown on the Nigerian.

Usman responded strongly in the second and third round, pressuring Edwards with flurries of strikes and controlling much of the contest with his grappling.

At the end of the round Edwards’ corner loudly urged their fighter to up his game and “get his hands moving”.

Edwards started to show signs of fatigue in the fourth, brought on by the relentless grappling from Usman, as the champion landed an effortless takedown and continued to control the fight.

With Usman likely ahead on points going into the fifth Edwards needed something special – and the Briton delivered.

With a feint he lured Usman’s head to the side, before landing a clean left high-kick, leaving the Nigerian stunned on the canvas.

Edwards jumped on the cage in celebration as the enormity of what he had achieved started to sink in.

UFC commentator Joe Rogan said the kick which ended the fight was potentially the best he’s seen in the UFC, with Edwards shocking Usman in the fifth while behind on points being arguably the sport’s biggest ever upset.

More to follow.

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