Leon Edwards stops Kamara Usman late in fifth to win UFC welterweight title – NBC10 Philadelphia

Leon Edwards dropped Kamara Usman with a kick to the head and neck in the final minute of the fifth round to win the welterweight championship at UFC 278 on Saturday night.

Usman appeared to be seconds away from a UFC all-time record-tying 16th straight victory before Edwards came in time for a stunning finish. He delivered a knockout blow with 56 seconds left in the fight.

“That cross landed perfectly,” Edwards said.

Edwards (20-3) is undefeated dating back to his previous fight with Usman in 2015. The British fighter climbed to No. 2 in the welterweight division, amassing nine wins in that stretch before the title fight.

Usman (20-2) lived up to his reputation as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world for much of the fight. The Nigerian survived a late takedown in the first round and turned things around late in the second round. Usman was in control throughout the third round, earning two more takedowns and leading the scoreboards 39-37 after four rounds. He appeared en route to a unanimous decision victory before Edwards rallied in the final round.

“Nobody owns the Octagon,” Edwards said. “No man should hold a belt that long. I’ve been saying all week that I felt like this was my moment. That’s how it was supposed to play out.”

Edwards still believes he still has a lot to prove even though he is now the champion. He repeatedly mentioned that he didn’t like how his body was reacting to Usman’s attacks throughout the five rounds.

“It wasn’t my best performance and I didn’t feel good about it,” Edwards said. “I feel like I have a lot more to offer.”

The first UFC pay-per-view event in Utah drew 18,321 fans and $4.2 million in revenue, a Vivint Arena record. It was the 23rd consecutive sellout for the UFC.

Dana White praised the atmosphere in the arena and said that the UFC could return to Utah as early as 2023.

“You could put that crowd up there with anybody tonight,” White said.

Paulo Costa defeated former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold by unanimous decision in a middleweight bout. Costa (14-2) has lost two straight in Salt Lake City.

Rockhold (16-5) returned to the Octagon for the first time in three years, and his rust showed as the fight progressed. Costa more than doubled Rockhold’s punches in the first two rounds and eventually left him with a bloody mouth in the third round. Rockhold wiped Costa’s face with his own blood in the final seconds of the round, while both fighters remained deadlocked on the ground.

“I didn’t see it at the time of the fight. I just felt something on my face,” Costa said. “But when I saw it, it was very disgusting. … It was an amazing moment.”

Merab Dvalishvili topped former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo via unanimous decision in the men’s lightweight bout for his eighth straight victory. Aldo (31-8) had vocal support from the crowd but wore down under relentless pressure from Dvalishvili (15-4) over three rounds.

Lucy Pudilova defeated Wu Yanan in the women’s bantamweight main card for her third straight victory. Janan suffered her fourth defeat in a row. Pudilova earned a TKO at the 4:04 mark of the second round after dragging Yanan to the canvas and elbowing her repeatedly from behind.

Tyson Pedro scored a TKO over Harry Hunsaker at 1:05 of the first round at light heavyweight, rounding out the main card bouts.

Marcin Tybura handed Alexander Romanov his first UFC heavyweight defeat, winning by majority decision. Romanov (18-1) knocked Tibura (23-7) to the canvas several times in the first round, but was exhausted in the remaining two rounds.

Earlier in the evening, Shawn Woodson and Luis Saldana played out a rare draw in their featherweight preliminary bout. For both fighters, it was the first draw in their careers.

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