Usman was looking to defend his welterweight title for the sixth time in a rematch against Edwards, who was unbeaten in 10 fights heading into the title fight.
Leon Edwards produced a stunning last-gasp head-kick KO to win the welterweight title against Kamaru Usman at UFC 278.
Pound-for-pound No.1 Usman was looking to make the sixth defence of his title in a rematch against Edwards, seven years after the pair first met in the early stages of their UFC careers. Since outpointing Edwards in that 2015 meeting, Usman had won 13 consecutive fights whilst the Brit was unbeaten in 10 fights.
Usman wasted no time in taking Edwards down as the fight got underway, but the Brit turned the tables when he landed a takedown of his own and took Usman’s back. ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ turned up the pace in the second round and started to put together some good combinations before ending the round on top with another takedown.
It was all Usman in the third round as he dominated Edwards on the mat, mixing up his submission attempts with strikes. The Brit’s corner team urged him to try and defend Usman’s takedowns to keep the fight on the feet, but Edwards was slowing down as the rounds went on. Usman continued his relentless pressure in the final round, but out of nowhere Edwards produced a perfect high kick which left Usman out cold with referee Herb Dean instantly waving off the fight.
Edwards was overcome with emotion after the Hail Mary win, and said: “I was born in Jamaica with nothing, I lived in a wooden shack with a zinc roof. Look at me now, champion of the world. I told you I could do it. Thank you to the UFC to giving the kid that was born with nothing an opportunity to do something.”
In the co-main event, Paulo Costa spoiled Luke Rockhold’s UFC return in a back-and-forth fight. Both men were exhausted for large parts of the bout, which seemed to be over midway through the second round but replay showed that Costa landed a punch to Rockhold’s groin which caused him to go down. As the fight came to a close, Rockhold bizarrely rubbed his bloodied face on Costa whilst on top of him on the ground.
Jose Aldo’s bantamweight title hopes were dented as he was out-grappled by Merab Dvalishvili over three rounds. Aldo tried his best to keep the fight at striking range, but Dvalishvili was relentless in his efforts to take the former featherweight champion down. The judges saw it 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 in favour of Dvalishvili after the final bell. Dvalishvili’s win meant rapper Drake lost out on a $500,000 payout after backing Aldo to win the fight in his latest UFC stake.
Elsewhere on the Salt Lake City card, Lucie Pudilova picked up her third consecutive win by stopping Wu Yanan with a series of elbows and Tyson Pedro knocked out Harry Hunsucker in 65-seconds. Marcin Tybura picked up a big win on the prelims by handing Alexander Romanov his first professional loss whilst Jared Gordon called for a fight with Paddy Pimblett after he outpointed Leonardo Santos.