Leon Edwards upset the welterweight apple cart with a stunning, fifth-round knockout victory over Kamaru Usman in the UFC 278 main event last August in Salt Lake City, capturing the 170-pound title while avenging a loss to “The Nigerian Nightmare” from their first meeting at UFC on FOX 17 back in late 2015.
That performance marked the first loss for Usman under the UFC banner and the first knockout defeat of his professional career. It remains to be seen how the former champ, who turns 36 in just a few weeks, manages to rebound from that highlight-reel finish to reclaim the title and complete his Edwards trilogy.
“A knockout affects everyone different,” Edwards told BT Sport (transcribed by Farah Hannoun). “He’s what now, 35, 36 years old? Coming off a knockout and fighting the same guy who’s just knocked him out, so lets see how he comes back and how he reacts. For him, the fight was going his way. What does he change? The way he fought me last is the way he fights. I can’t see him in the space of five, six months now being a totally different fighter. I just can’t see it happening.”
We’ll find out in the UFC 286 headliner this Sat. (March 18) at The O2 in London.
The sports books currently have Usman as the -245 betting favorite for their upcoming trilogy against +205 for the underdog Edwards. “The Nigerian Nightmare” was cruising to a sweep on the judges’ scorecards before “Rocky” lived up to his nickname and captured victory from the jaws of inevitable defeat.
“This will be his first time actually fighting in someone’s backyard,” Edwards continued. “This is my hometown show. I’ve never lost in the UK. I use the crowd as energy. I just can’t see how he goes out there and defeats me.”
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