The newly minted UFC welterweight champion pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in UFC history in the main event of UFC 278. With time winding down and Edwards clearly behind on the scorecards, the 30-year-old landed a head kick that flattened Usman with less than a minute left in the fight.
Usman had already defended his title on 5 occasions prior to UFC 278, so Edwards could have been forgiven if he felt a bit intimidated ahead of his first UFC title fight. “Rocky” was asked at the post-fight press conference if avoiding eye contact with Usman before the bout contributed to his strong opening round.
“No, not really,” Edwards answered. “Like I said, I didn’t build him to be this pound-for-pound GOAT everyone says he is. I’ve said it all week, I don’t believe that he’s the pound-for-pound yet. You have to be better than just wrestling and boxing, you know? And I’m a mixed martial artist, I can do it all.”
“I Broke The 100% Record”
Usman was in about as dangerous a position as we’d ever seen in his UFC career when Edwards took him down in the first round and got on his back.
As strong as that opening round was, Edwards quickly learned why Usman hadn’t lost a fight in nearly 10 years. “The Nigerian Nightmare” was able to overcome his early struggles and take control of the bout as the rounds went on.
Although “Rocky” didn’t manage to get the finish while on Usman’s back, he still points to that takedown as being an achievement from the fight.
“I took him down in the first round, never been took down before. So I broke the 100% record. Took him down, got the back, going for the choke, he did a good job defending the choke. After that for some reason my body just wasn’t reacting. I don’t know whether it’s the altitude or what it was. But even when I was back stage and I was watching other guys fighting, Luke and everyone else. Everyone was getting tired and gassing out. I didn’t understand what it was. But even on my worst night, I beat the pound-for-pound.”
In addition to being a title fight, this main event bout in Salt Lake City was also a rematch between Usman and Edwards after the pair met early in their UFC careers.
If the narrative of a trilogy fight wasn’t already interesting enough, Usman’s previous record as champion and the dramatic fashion in which he lost should be more than enough for the UFC to book Usman as Edwards’ first challenger.
What do you make of Edwards’ comments regarding Usman’s skills and pound-for-pound status?