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With a swift head kick in the final round of a fight he was losing by all accounts, Leon Edwards knocked out the overwhelming favorite and champ Kamaru Usman to win the UFC welterweight title in the main event of UFC 278 on Saturday night at Vivint Arena.
The finish came at 4 minutes, 4 seconds of the fifth round, making it the fourth-latest finish in a UFC title fight and one of the most stunning knockouts in UFC history. Usman was considered the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world.
According to ESPN, Edwards is the first Jamaican-born fighter to win a UFC title and the second England-based athlete to do so.
“It’s more for the people that grew up where I grew up,” Edwards said. “I know it. I felt it. I felt the pressure. I felt the doubt. I felt people saying it couldn’t be done. I was born with nothing.”
Usman had been dominating the fight after the first round and was up 39-37 on all three judges’ scorecards entering the fifth. But with about a minute left in the fight, Usman leaned down to his right to defend an Edwards left before being caught him flush with a left head kick.
Usman, who was out on contact, was less than a minute away from a sixth title defense.
With an impressive MMA record of 20 – 3, Leon Edwards was already regarded as a formidable opponent, however, he has now become a household name after knocking out the supremely talented and charismatic Nigerian.
Edwards victory on Saturday night was his latest win in a 15 fight win streak. With a nearly identical record of 20 – 2, Usman isn’t likely to take the defeat lying down. After being transported to a hospital after the fight, Usman tweeted: “Champs f— up sometimes … but we bounce back and come with vengeance!!” He later gave props to Edwards on Twitter.