‘Look at me now’ – You have our consideration, Leon Edwards

What had been the largest moments at UFC 278? Megan Anderson, Jeff Wagenheim, Marc Raimondi and Brett Okamoto provide their takeaways from UFC’s return to Salt Lake Metropolis.

There was lower than a minute remaining in Spherical 5 of the primary occasion at UFC 278 and Leon Edwards was wanting like a dull challenger who was simply hoping to make it to the end line whereas nonetheless standing.

Edwards did have a robust first spherical, really. He scored an early takedown, the primary surrendered by Kamaru Usman in his 15-fight UFC profession. However from the second spherical on, Edwards had been manhandled by the UFC welterweight champion, who stalked him, beat him up and drained him out. When the fighters had been waved collectively in the beginning of Spherical 5, it was apparent to everybody at Vivint Enviornment in Salt Lake Metropolis on Saturday evening and all these watching at dwelling that Edwards wanted to provide one thing massive. It was additionally apparent from the challenger’s physique language simply how exhausting that might be. Edwards regarded drained. And as a substitute of pushing the motion, his strategy as these closing 5 minutes ticked off the clock was puzzlingly passive. He saved Usman away from him by throwing punches and kicks, however nothing he was sending again within the champ’s route checked out all harmful.

Till …

“Head shot! Bang! Done!”

These had been the phrases Edwards shouted into the digital camera proper after the combat ended at 4 minutes, 4 seconds of the ultimate spherical. As Usman lay immobile on the canvas, Edwards ran round in tears, climbed atop the cage, then jumped off and summed up the second with these few phrases, his voice barely audible above the roar of a shocked crowd.

Simply when it appeared that each one hope was misplaced for the 30-year-old Jamaica-born Englishman, he had thrown a lazy left hand that Usman simply parried. However what Usman by no means noticed was the left head kick that was proper behind the punch. It landed flush on the precise facet of the champ’s head, and, nicely, bang … carried out.

In one of the gorgeous comeback victories the Octagon has ever seen in a championship combat, the combat was over and there was a brand new champ. This upset might need been unthinkable to some, however MMA followers have been educated to anticipate the sudden. Simply final December, ladies’s pound-for-pound No. 1 Amanda Nunes was upset by Julianna Peña. That was an excellent larger shock than this outcome. If something, it ready us all for what occurred on this evening.

Nonetheless, a lot about this outcome was unthinkable. For one factor, Usman got here into the bout not simply as welterweight champ, but in addition because the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in MMA. He was lower than a minute away from his sixth consecutive profitable title protection and twentieth victory in a row. Usman was being talked about as a candidate for the hallowed standing of best fighter of all time.

In actual fact, within the lead-up to this evening, one might have been forgiven for not even understanding that Edwards was a part of the UFC 278 primary occasion. Practically each superlative within the narrative hyping up this combat card had centered on Usman. Together with the GOAT speak, there even was hypothesis over whether or not Usman could be going through fast-rising Khamzat Chimaev subsequent and, ought to the champ cross that take a look at, what problem he would possibly tackle after that.

Saturday’s challenger was one thing of an afterthought.

Edwards ought to have been used to that. Regardless of him getting into the bout on a 10-fight unbeaten streak — he hadn’t misplaced since a 2015 choice defeat towards Usman — Edwards had been largely ignored. I imply, Jorge Masvidal obtained two pictures on the belt earlier than Edwards obtained his.

Why is that? Edwards isn’t a lot of a talker. He had gone to selections in his previous 4 wins. He was not thought-about one of many sport’s stars. He needed to win and win and win to be able to make himself unattainable for the UFC matchmakers to miss.

“Look at me now!” Edwards demanded repeatedly in his postfight interview.

Effectively, champ, you now have your complete world’s consideration. — Jeff Wagenheim


If that is it for Rockhold, keep in mind him not for current years

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Paulo Costa handily wins his combat vs. Luke Rockhold by way of unanimous choice within the co-main occasion of UFC 278.

Luke Rockhold has not gained a combat since 2017 and has only one win since 2015. On Saturday evening at UFC 278, Rockhold gassed out by the top of the primary spherical, however confirmed a ton of coronary heart in ending the bout towards Paulo Costa in a unanimous-decision loss. Rockhold really continued to place forth offense towards Costa, regardless of being completely exhausted, at instances bending over and placing his fingers on his knees. It was an unsightly efficiency, although a present of will and dedication.

Frankly, it sums up the place Rockhold is in his profession now. He nonetheless has the need; he nonetheless has the thoughts for the sport of MMA. However his physique simply is not responding anymore at age 37 after 15 years as a professional fighter.

As Rockhold was strolling to the again from the Octagon, his longtime teammate Daniel Cormier left his broadcast place and embraced Rockhold in a hug. The 2 had been a part of a dynasty at American Kickboxing Academy that included the likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Cain Velasquez. At one level, Rockhold was thought-about each bit pretty much as good as his teammates. He was one of the best middleweight in Strikeforce historical past, holding that title. And he impressively beat Chris Weidman in 2015 to win the UFC middleweight title.

That was seven years in the past and many individuals anticipated Rockhold to have an extended reign on prime. He was far and away one of the best 185-pound fighter on the planet at that time. However in his subsequent bout, Rockhold was stunningly upset and knocked out by Michael Bisping. Sadly, Rockhold simply hasn’t been the identical since then. At his greatest, Rockhold was one of the expert middleweights in historical past — he might knock you out on the toes, wrestle with one of the best of them and had fight-ending grappling potential. If that is it for his profession (he was unclear after the combat if it was), it is best to recollect him for these wins towards Weidman, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Tim Kennedy and his slick end of Bisping of their first combat. — Marc Raimondi


Jose Aldo does not want to retire, but it surely’s looming heavy now

Let me be clear. Aldo simply had a three-fight win streak snapped and it isn’t like he was outclassed by Dvalishvili in any respect. He is nonetheless, clearly, a really aggressive bantamweight. However as is all the time the case, it’s a must to ask your self what motive he has to combat once more. He stated his final purpose was to retire as a champion, and if he got here up brief on Saturday, he would wish to take a seat down along with his workforce to hash out his future.

Aldo nonetheless regarded quick on Saturday, however he did not look as quick as we have all the time identified him to be. He regarded hungry and keen to place it on the road when he went down on the scorecards, however he did not appear to have that dig that may have been there earlier in his profession to will one thing to occur. We may be seeing the primary indicators of a decline, and if that is the case, there actually isn’t any motive to maintain going. If he desires a retirement combat in Brazil in January, which I might definitely see him wanting, the game will embrace that. It is all the time an emotional factor when a legend is deciding how he desires to exit. Aldo has reached that time. — Brett Okamoto


What’s subsequent Tyson Pedro?

Pedro now has back-to-back first-round knockouts since making his return to the Octagon towards Ike Villanueva in April. In each fights, although neither lasted lengthy, Pedro has proven improved persistence and management. He is the kind of fighter that will not let these two wins get to his head. I believe he’ll maintain working to enhance and develop his sport.

With solely eight fights beneath his belt within the UFC and having simply made his return to the game, it is best to permit him to search out his footing once more. Coming into this combat, Pedro had already confronted powerful competitors when he fought from 2016 to 2018, however with such an extended layoff, he is comparatively new once more.

The UFC might look to offer him a shot towards a ranked opponent in his subsequent combat and a case might be made that he and Dustin Jacoby could be matchup. Generally after a fighter has showings as Pedro had in his previous two appearances, fighters might be rushed into going through extra notable opponents. However one of the best development for him could be matchups that permit him to slowly work his approach up and again into the swing of issues. He is nonetheless in his prime, so if he can take his time attempting to climb the rankings, he is much less prone to be pushed too quick too early. — Megan Anderson