Kamaru Usman was in the process of double-lapping the welterweight division.
The welterweight world champion was coming off defeating Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington for a second time each.
But just when it looked like Usman was going to do the same to Leon Edwards in their rematch at UFC 278 on Saturday night, "Rocky" struck back in a dramatic scene right out of the movie of his same moniker. With 56 seconds left, Edwards rallied and caught Usman with a left head kick to instantly knock Usman out in a stunning fifth-round KO to be crowned the new welterweight world champion inside of Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
With the victory, Edwards became the first Jamaica-born fighter to grab a championship in UFC history. He also picked up his 10th victory in his last 11 fights and snapped Usman's 15-fight win streak. One more win would have tied Usman with Anderson Silva's record of 16.
Following a surprising first round where Edwards became the first UFC fighter to take Usman down, "The Nigerian Nightmare" proceeded to win the second, third and fourth rounds via his dominant takedowns and control. Usman was winning the first four minutes of the fifth and final round too, before Edwards created enough space to feint with his right hand and unload the riveting left head kick that instantly knocked Usman out in a shocking victory that more than lived up to his "Rocky" nickname for its thrilling comeback nature.
Here's how the entire UFC 278: Usman vs. Edwards 2 went.
Edwards has got to let his hands and feet go to have any shot of winning at this point. Usman buries a jab into Edwards' midsection. Sixty seconds in and both fighters are looking for an opening to create offense. Usman is more active with his hands, but nothing is landing with impact. Usman goes for a takedown and Edwards provides admirable defense. Usman has Edwards back in a familiar position — up against the Octagon. We're two minutes in. Usman still grinding away and we're at the halfway mark. Dean resets the action to the center of the Octagon. Body kick connects for Edwards and a right hand follows. Official timeout at the 1:55 mark due to a body kick deemed low from Edwards. But the instant replay shows that Edwards' kick wasn't low. Action resumes and we have 90 ticks left. Edwards has got to go for it. Sixty seconds remaining. Oh my goodness! Edwards snatches Usman's soul with a left head kick that knocks the champ out before he hits the ground. Leon Edwards has done it! He is the new welterweight king!
Edwards swings and misses with a ducking Usman springing up to tag the contender with a left hook. They scramble and Edwards is taking Usman's back. It's Edwards pressing Usman against the cage now before they're back in the center. Usman takes Edwards down again and is now raining down with stiff punches. Halfway point of the round. Usman continues to unleash punches from the top as Edwards' team implores him to get up onto his feet. Usman has Edwards' back and they're on their feet. More knees to Edwards' legs. One minute left. More knees, a right-left combo and Usman scores another takedown. Edwards almost reverses it. But referee Herb Dean makes the fighters reset with Usman on his back. Usman rocks Edwards with a right, left and another elbow. (10-9 Usman, 39-37 Usman)
Pivotal round. Leg kick lands for Edwards before both fighters trade jabs. Usman rushes and presses Edwards against the cage and takes him down. Edwards is back on his feet but is taking several knees to his legs from the champ. Edwards buries a knee into Usman's midsection. Usman with a left to the body and a raking right hook across the face, before taking Edwards down yet again. Usman has his back at the two-minute mark. He's trying to flatten Edwards out but "Rocky" is fighting the champ's efforts. Usman tries for a guillotine but can't quite get it cinched. Usman tags him with a couple of shots on the feet in the final seconds before staring Edwards down.
Edwards and Usman trade punches on the feet before the champ presses the top contender up against the Octagon. A jab sneaks through for Usman, who pours it on with more punches. Edwards keeps his composure but got tagged with some heavy shots there. Straight left jab lands for Usman again. An eye poke briefly halts the action to allow Usman time to recover. We're back after a few seconds and both fighters are in the middle of the Octagon, looking for an opening. Usman with an elbow in close quarters and a jab. Edwards returns fire with a solid shot himself. Usman sneaks a right hand in. Left hook lands for Edwards. Usman leaning on Edwards and lands on top of "Rocky." They're back to their feet where they exchange elbows. Usman gets a takedown, scooping and taking Edwards off his feet. Ten seconds left. (10-9 Usman, 19-19)
Edwards starts with a leg kick as Usman looks to assert his own offense. Left jab lands for Usman, who proceeds to attempt a takedown. Edwards shows good takedown defense but Usman lands on top of him. Edwards scrambles but now finds himself face first, pressed against the Octagon with the champ on his back. Usman placing knees to Edwards' legs. Edwards now trips Usman and takes the champ down! Edwards is the first fighter in 16 fights to take Usman down.
The champ didn't see it coming. Edwards now has Usman's back and is attempting a rear-naked choke. He's got it on the chin. Edwards has a body triangle in as he tries to make the rear-naked choke tighter. Usman is doing a good job wriggling and preventing Edwards from doing so. Edwards with some punches on the ground. Edwards definitely gets Usman's attention in a big way. (10-9 Edwards)
Edwards is unbeaten in his last 10 fights. The welterweight champion Usman is looking to make it six title defenses and extend his win streak to 16 straight victories which would tie him with Anderson Silva for most consecutive UFC wins.
Rockhold fought his heart out with a stellar display of guts. He tells Joe Rogan that he's too old to do this anymore and this was it. Rockhold was winded from the first five minutes of action but proceeded to give it his all the rest of the 10 minutes through.
Rockhold drops Costa but the Brazilian gets back up on his feet quickly. Costa blasts Rockhold with a right, Rockhold loads up and rocks Costa with a left. Body kick and punch from Rockhold. Costa briefly puts his hands behind his back, inviting more action. Rockhold shoots inexplicably and Costa lands on top of him in a mount. Rockhold scrambles but Costa winds up on his back. Less than a minute left. Blood continuing to flow from both fighters. Rockhold somehow reverses and lands on top of Costa. Rockhold is rubbing his own blood into Costa's face as the time runs out. (10-9 Costa, 30-27 Costa)
Rockhold looks completely exhausted as his team crushes an ice pack over his neck and applies it to his chest in between rounds. Rockhold blasts Costa with a couple of heavy kicks but Costa rocks him with a punch. Blood spouting out of Rockhold's nose. Rockhold eats a right hook now. A body kick from Costa connects too. Spinning back kick lands for Rockhold. He delivers a 360-degree roundhouse kick next to get some oohs and ahhs from the crowd. They exchange head kicks, before Rockhold places his hands on his legs. He's exhausted! Costa looks winded himself. Both fighters are breathing through their mouths. Ref calls a timeout for a low blow on a punch Costa delivered to Rockhold. Costa, for a second, thought he won the fight. Rockhold is taking his time to recover as he should. Blood flowing on both fighters' faces as the action resumes. Spinning back kick lands for Rockhold. Body kick lands for Costa, who almost takes Rockhold off his feet with the strike. Another huge body kick lands for Costa. There's the horn. (10-9 Costa, 20-18 Costa)
Rockhold going for leg kicks early on. But Costa catches him being overzealous and drops him with a punch. Several more punches come firing out by Costa. The Brazilian now with a big left and he takes Rockhold down. That's just the second takedown of Costa's career. He's on top of Rockhold trying to free up his hands to rain down some more punches. Costa invites Rockhold to kick and Rockhold obliges with four straight body kicks. That probably wasn't wise by Costa. Rockhold has a cut on his forehead from the earlier shots Costa delivered. Rockhold lands a punch now seconds before the horn. (10-9 Costa)
Paulo Costa looks to snap a two-fight skid next as he clashes with Luke Rockhold. The former middleweight world champion Rockhold has lost two straight himself and three of his last four. He's making his first appearance in the Octagon since July 6, 2019 when he lost to Jan Błachowicz by KO. Will Costa get back on track? Or will Rockhold prove he has something major left to contribute to MMA? We're about to find out.
Judges see it 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 all for Dvalishvili whose strategy worked toward the biggest victory of his career. Make it eight straight victories for Merab Dvalishvili. He slowed down the action and stifled the offense of Aldo by repeatedly mashing him up against the Octagon. Dvalishvili calls bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling "the reason" he's standing here tonight shining in this moment. "He makes me who I am today," Dvalishvili tells Joe Rogan. If Dvalishvili keeps going like this, he'll be the No. 1 contender for Sterling's title.
Aldo seems to be fatigued during the early moments of the round. Meanwhile Dvalishvili is opening up with his striking. Moments later, he tries for another takedown and nearly gets it, grabbing hold of Aldo's waist and trying to toss him to the ground only for the Brazilian to land on his feet. Seconds after that, Dvalishvili does finally get the takedown that he's been grinding for. He doesn't capitalize on it with extra offense but he did secure the takedown he was working so diligently for.
Dvalishvili spends a bulk of the second round grappling and pressing Aldo up against the Octagon following stuffed takedown attempts. He's kneeing Aldo in the legs while doing this. Aldo gestures that he's yawning while in the position during one moment. When Aldo did break free, he lit Dvalishvili up with two punches to the body followed by a kick. Dvalishvili is controlling the pace but the veteran Aldo is connecting on the sharper shots. Third and final round next.
Dvalishvili immediately gets Aldo's attention with a spinning back kick, which the Brazilian defends well. Moments later, he grabs hold of Aldo's leg and yanks it all the way up but Aldo refuses to be taken down. Later in the round, Aldo opens up with some punches to the body and upstairs as well. Every time he fired away, Dvalishvili was happy to return some heat the other way. Intriguing first five minutes.
We've got a pivotal bantamweight matchup on deck with No. 3-ranked Jose Aldo, 35, taking on sixth-ranked Merab Dvalishvili, who is riding a seven-fight win streak. Can the icon Aldo dispose of another younger threat and extend his own win streak to four in a row? We're about to find out.
In her return to the UFC Octagon, Pudilová works to take Wu's back before raining down on punches and then some hellbows to produce the second-round knockout. Solid victory, making the bantamweight division take notice.