“We Wrote His Obituary!” Leon Edwards Delivers Head Kick Heard Around The World To KO Kamaru Usman

Image Credit: Screen shot

The sport of mixed martial arts is beloved for its unpredictability, and newly crowned welterweight champion Leon “Rocky” Edwards proved that on Saturday night. By way of Britain, the Jamaican landed a head kick late in the fifth and final round of his championship fight against Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman to become a UFC champion and dethrone the former undefeated star.

In the UFC 278 main event Saturday at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Edwards (20-3) avenged his 2015 unanimous decision loss to Usman in an eye-opening fashion. Edwards used a left jab to distract Usman, who ducked into a left head kick that caught him blindsided and left him stiff and flat on the canvas.

The shot took the air out of the arena as Edwards lost the fight on the scorecards, and Usman only needed to hold on one more minute to remain the champion. The two were both extremely tired going into the final round, partially because the altitude of the nevue makes it harder to breathe under strenuous conditions.

Still, Edwards did the impossible in an impressive come-from-behind fashion.

“You all doubted me that I couldn’t do it,” Edwards said in the cage after the fight. “Look at me now. Look at it: pound-for-pound, headshot, dead. That’s it.”‘

Usman walked into the fight considered by many as the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in MMA before UFC 278. He began his title reign by defeating Tyron Woodley in 2019. Then he faced most of the big names of his generation in the division, such as Colby Covington (twice), Jorge Masvidal, and Gilbert Burns. Now Usman’s title reign ends with five defenses, and his winning streak snapped at 18.

“Everything that happened in the past, the two years out, the pandemic, all of it, no one thought I was going to come back and do it,” Edwards continued in the post-fight interview. “There is no ring rust, I told you; look at me now; champion of the world, told you. I was born in Jamaica with nothing. I lived in a wooden shed with a tin roof. Look at me now, strap season. We’ve done it baby.”

Edwards hasn’t lost a fight since his December 2015 loss, ironically to Usman. In almost seven years, Edwards has gone 10-0 with one no-contest with wins over big names in the division like Nate Diaz, Rafael dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone. He now adds Usman to that list in a rivalry that is certain to have a trilogy, with Usman already vowing a comeback in a series of tweets.

“Champs f$ck up sometimes… but we bounce back and come with vengeance!!”

“Damn I love this sport!!! Things happen but… Alhamdulillah we move!!”

Usman was looking to set up a crossover boxing match with current undisputed super middleweight champion, Canelo Alvarez. Although Alvarez had not responded to the multiple requests, nor the UFC seem interested in letting Usman pursue that path, the loss to Edwards derailed Usman’s hope to ride the success wave into a boxing bag.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.