The welterweight division has been turned on its axis as Leon “Rocky” Edwards has done the seemingly impossible. The new welterweight champion delivered a highlight reel head kick knockout for the ages as he took the 5x defending champion and #1 P4P king, Kamaru Usman in the last seconds of the 5th round in the main event of UFC 278.
In a fight many considered over since the 2nd round, or as analyst Din Thomas labelled him a “broken and embarrassed fighter”, Leon showed the heart of a champion as he remained posed and picked his opportunity and hit the mark like never before. He did not allow the pressure or physical exhaustion to get the better of him and earned his title the hard way, which Leon is no stranger to. His sheer determination and will to push through is what got him here and it was on full display tonight.
While the champion asserted himself from rounds 2-5, he seemed to take his eye off the prize at the very last minute and paid the prize. Much has been made of the Kamaru focusing on things like boxing, acting, or even moving up 2 weight classes. He looked phenomenal and in amazing shape, but as I’ve mentioned in previous articles, Leon has shown a dog mentality and focus that Usman has not had for some time now.
This fight extends Leon’s streak to 10 straight wins as well as setting up a potential rematch for the ages with Usman who likely gets first dibs due to his record. Or depending on the outcome, we could see Khamzat Chimaev make his first title fight. Leon couldn’t have asked for a better win as this win is one of the greatest upsets, comebacks, and head-kick KOs of all time. As far as significance goes this is also further proof of how far UK MMA has come, and the evolution of the fighters that have made strides in advancing the skill of each generation before them.