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Leon Edwards carves his name into sporting lore with Kamaru Usman's near-final headkick KO

Kamal Usman’s headkick KO out of nowhere in Leon Edwards’ last-minute fight he nearly lost is something that happens once every 20 or 30 years. In professional sports, it’s rare for a player or team to turn a particular loss into a strong victory, as Edwards did Saturday at his arena for the main event of UFC 278 in Salt Lake City, Utah. There is none.

After a strong first round which he clearly won, Edwards struggled for most of the rest of the way. Usman, who entered the UFC on a 15-game winning streak, is a minute away from Anderson Silva’s promotion record of 16. This is without a doubt the best record in the sport.

At the end of the fourth round, Edwards’ corner was furious that he seemed to accept his fate.

“Come on man! What’s wrong?!” shouted one of the coaches. At that stage, UFC broadcaster Ding Thomas said Edwards looked broken.

But for most of Round 5, the harsh comments didn’t work because nothing had changed. Edwards showed no urgency as the clock approached his one minute. UFC broadcaster Daniel Cormier suggested that Edwards was content to run out the time and make it five full rounds to get a moral victory.

In a blink of an eye, Edwards changed the course of MMA history.

He threw a jab, but it wasn’t a particularly scary or difficult shot. However, many fighters try to blind their opponent by throwing a jab and then follow up with their right hand to deal damage.

That’s what Edwards’ jab seemed designed to do, and boy, did it ever lead to any damage.

Usman leaned to the right, which turned out to be a monumental mistake. Because he was throwing the kick even before Edwards’ jab landed.

It landed on the chin and Usman was down and out in an instant.

Leon Edwards of Jamaica hits Nigeria’s Kamaru Usman with a head kick during the UFC Welterweight Championship match during the UFC 278 event at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah on August 20, 2022. Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

His championship dominance, top of the pound-for-pound list, and chances of tying Silva’s winning streak are over.

Edwards achieved the wildest finish in a UFC title fight to date, becoming the first Jamaican-born UFC champion.

Few sports can match it. In his 1978 NFL game, the New York Giants held the ball in his 31st second and the Philadelphia Eagles he led 17-12. Kneel downs weren’t allowed at the time, but the Eagles had no timeouts left. All Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcic had to do was make sure Larry Czonka made the transition. His handoff attempt to Csonka went wrong and the ball was free. Eagles defensive back Herman Edwards scooped it up for the most unlikely victory in NFL history.

But it was a pointless late game between two bad teams.

Edwards scored a dramatic victory over one of the greatest fighters in UFC history. When his watch was running low and his dream of winding up his belt was fading away.

“While listening to the commentary, [broadcasters Joe] Logan and [Jon] Anik and DC [Daniel Cormier] “We were completely on board with everything they said about what Edwards needed to do and what he should do,” said UFC president Dana White. scored a head kick.

“Think of everything that was prepared for Usman tonight, and he fought all night with absolute and complete confidence. He put up a perfect fight. He was unable to put up a perfect fight until the very end.

Edwards fought a perfect first round. He became the first man in the UFC to beat his Usman in his UFC career.

For a while it looked like he could choke Usman first, but the champion kept his cool and got out of it. Still, Edwards clearly won first.

And Usman became Usman again. He was an aggressive forward, combining his pressure with punches, elbows and takedowns to beat Edwards in every aspect of the game in his four minutes in rounds 2, 3, 4 and the first of his fifth. rice field.

But the round was five minutes long instead of four, and Edwards still had time. He took almost all of it, and he did it brilliantly.

When the kick hit, Edwards knew he had won. He immediately raised his arms to the sky and began celebrating before referee Herb Dean formally called it off.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - August 20: Leon Edwards of Jamaica in action for the UFC Welterweight Championship during the UFC 278 event at Vivint Arena on August 20, 2022 in Salt Lake City, Utah Reacting after defeating Kamal Usman of Nigeria by KO. (Photo: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Leon Edwards of Jamaica defeated Kamaru Usman of Nigeria by KO in a fight for the UFC Welterweight Championship during the UFC 278 event at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah on August 20, 2022. react after (Photo: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

The abrupt end of a championship moment was like Bill Mazeloski’s homer in the bottom of the ninth when the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.

But it wasn’t the same either. Because Mazellski was the leadoff hitter in the bottom of his ninth, and when he came to bat, the game he was tied 9-9.

Villanova’s Kris Jenkins hit a three-point shot from the top of the key at the buzzer in 2016 to defeat North Carolina and help the Wildcats win the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. But had he missed, the game would have gone into overtime. Similarly, in 1983, Lorenzo Charles’ 1-second dunk led North Carolina to a national championship victory over Houston, but if he didn’t put it in, the game went to overtime.

Edwards’ victory would be not only the most dramatic in UFC history, but the most dramatic in all of sports history when the stakes and circumstances are taken into account.

“All the skeptics said I couldn’t do it,” Edwards exclaimed. “Everybody said I can’t. Now look at me. Look at me now!”

he is on top of the world. It’s an amazing story of a kid who, given his birth and childhood circumstances, seemed destined to either die early or spend much of his life in prison, but he found his MMA. . Well, both he and his MMA are good at that.

At the post-match press conference, he apologized for being hoarse and crying.

There aren’t many rag-to-rich stories like this guy.

“Everybody knows my past, but I’ve always said that’s how it made me who I am today.

Today he is the UFC World Welterweight Champion.