Kamaru Usman has vowed to come back “with vengeance” after losing his welterweight title to Leon Edwards at UFC 278.
Usman, 35, was on his way to making the sixth defence of his 170lb title against Edwards after being up on the judges scorecards heading into the final round of the fight.
‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ was in control of the fifth round and seemed to be cruising his way to a decision win, but Edwards landed a perfect head kick that rendered him unconscious as he suffered his first-ever UFC defeat.
The pound-for-pound No.1 was taken straight to hospital after the knockout loss, but has since released a statement in which he promised to come back stronger. “Champs f*** up sometimes… but we bounce back and come with vengeance,” Usman wrote.
Usman had won 13 consecutive fights since his first meeting with Edwards in 2015, knocking out top contenders such as Jorge Masvidal and Gilbert Burns during that run.
Usman’s loss sets up a potential trilogy with Edwards, with the scores between the two now being one apiece.
‘Rocky’ stated before the fight that he wanted to make the first defence of his title against bitter rival Jorge Masvidal in the UK, but the manner in which he won the belt could and Masvidal’s string of recent losses could set up a trilogy with Usman for his next fight instead.
Edwards was overcome with emotion in the octagon after his win, being lost for words during his post-fight interview.
“It’s hard to put it into words, that’s why I broke down in the octagon as everyone knows my path. I’ve said it all week, I believe that’s how it had to go to build me into the man I am today,” he said.
“That was one of the worst performances of my career, I did not feel good in there tonight but I went in there and knocked out the pound-for-pound No.1. I knew it would be a tough fight; he is good but I believe I’m better, even though that was one of my worst performances.
”My body wasn’t reacting how it as meant to react, everyone was getting tired and gassed out and when I when tout there I felt it. But I stayed focused, my coaches spurred me on and told me to fight till the end and the kick landed perfectly.”