Video Credit: Clever Spot MMA

New FSM Essential Recap: UFC 278


UFC 278 saw a stunning upset and the crowing of a new welterweight champion.


UFC 278
Photo Credit: Josh Hedges/Getty Images

The main event saw a rematch between Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards for the welterweight title. The two previously met back in 2015, which saw Usman earn a unanimous decision victory. However, this time around, things ended shortly before it again went to the judges for the results as Edwards landed a headlock knockout in the fifth round to dethrone Usman and become the new UFC champion at 170lbs.

Usman (20-2) was 6-0 in UFC title fights and had not been defeated since his second professional fight. After defeating Edwards in 2015, Usman has been a wrecking ball in the division, going 13-0, including becoming champion. Still one of the greatest in the promotion’s history, Usman’s first taste of defeat comes in devastating fashion.

Edwards (20-3, 7 KOs) became only the second British fighter to win UFC gold, the first being Michael Bisping. Both won their titles via upset knockouts. This was Edwards’ first finish since 2018. With a kickboxing background, Edwards knew that if the fight stayed on the feet, he’d have a chance until the final bell. Setting up the finish, Edwards threw a left cross punch to get Usman to block and slip. While his left arm was thrown, Edwards turned his hips and brought up a left headlock that paired perfectly with Usman slipping the punch and landing flush on the chin. That dropped the champion immediately and was knocked out before hitting the mat. Edwards didn’t even need to add any ground strikes for good measure.


UFC 278
Photo Credit: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

The layers to this matchup were interesting. Leading in, Edwards had a moment in 2019 where he had a strong case for a title shot. But an injury and COVID-19 prevented Edwards from leaving the UK due to the global lockdown. After 400+ days of being inactive, Edwards was removed from the UFC rankings when he was the 3rd ranked fighter at 170lbs.

He was offered a fight against Khamzat Chimaev, who was unranked then. Edwards felt it was disrespectful of the UFC to offer him such a fight, given how far away they were in rankings. Once back, Edwards had a no contest over Belal Muhammad (accidental eye poke) and a victory over Nate Diaz, earning him a long-awaited rematch.

For Usman, his dominant run as champion saw him possibly looking for other options, whether moving up to light heavyweight to challenge for the title, a dream crossover match against boxing great Canelo Alvarez, or even a boxing match against Youtuber Jake Paul. Additionally, Usman had landed a role in the upcoming Black Panther 2 film and was on the verge of tying UFC great Anderson Silva for most consecutive wins to start his UFC career with 16.

However, with his recent improvement in his striking and eyes on possibly having a boxing bout, things seem to line up for Usman to become overconfident and not take his opponent as seriously as he should, which is a recipe for an upset.


A dominant performance gets overshadowed by a tremendous finish.


UFC 278
Photo Credit: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Before the fight, during fighter intros, Usman did his usual walk across the octagon as his name was being yelled by the legend Bruce Buffer. But, standing in front of his opponent with his hand raised, Edwards seemed unfazed and not intimidated. Even in their final face-off, while receiving their last instructions from the referee, Edwards wouldn’t look Usman in the eye.

Edwards started well as he got the first takedown on Usman in the UFC via a sweep. Then, Edwards was able to take his back and control the champion on the mat to end the round. Looking like he will be Usman’s most formidable challenge, the champion showed why he’d made it at times look easy against those who step in the cage with him.

Usman would bounce back and start to apply his wrestling to gain takedown after takedown on Edwards and enforce his will. Again, he was controlling the pace of the bout and solidifying his status as the best. Usman continued to move repeatedly, gaining more distance on the scorecards with his control in the grappling department and his clinch striking against the fence. It seemed to be another victory in store for the champion.

Towards the end of the fifth and final round, the two were standing toe to toe as if both knew the end was near, and unless Edwards swung for the fences, the crowd was going to hear “…And still,” after the bell. Instead, Edwards threw a faint left cross that caused Usman to lightly block it and move his head to the side to avoid the strike.


UFC 278
Photo Credit: Josh Hedges/Getty Images

While Edwards’ punch was still on its way, he turned his hips and brought up his left leg to deliver a high kick. The left punch was the setup, and Usman fell for the bait.

The lean to the side led the champ’s face right into an oncoming left headlock that instantly shut the lights out of the champion and had him out on his feet before hitting the mat. Without adding insult to injury, Edwards raised his hands in victory instead of additional strikes as the shocked crowd froze and jumped to cheer. It was a stunning finish from a fighter who, despite clearly losing the contest, never gave up.

Given how Edwards dethroned Usman and took his spot at the top of the mountain, a trilogy fight is in order down the line. It should be immediate, depending on Usman’s recovery. He walked out of the cage under his own will, but with vicious knockouts, you never know how long a fighter needs to recover.

So do we see these two warriors do battle before 2022 is over? There are some key dates for it to possibly happen in New York in November or the UFC end-of-the-year big show in Las Vegas. Either way, when these two lock horns again, it’ll be must-see tv.


Another excellent fight card is in the books as the UFC continues to entertain fantastic showings one after the other. Whether we are watching champions, former champions, title contenders, or up-and-comers, the UFC will continue to give us entertaining events to enjoy.


Check out for all your latest MMA, Las Vegas sports news, events, previews, recaps, and my weekly combat sports show with Griffin Kemp, The Main Event.

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-Kalani Lua – Franchise Sports Media

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