You may have our consideration, Leon Edwards

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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 principle 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 powerful 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 firstly of Spherical 5, it was apparent to everybody at Vivint Enviornment in Salt Lake Metropolis on Saturday night time and all these watching at dwelling that Edwards wanted to supply one thing huge. It was additionally apparent from the challenger’s physique language simply how laborious that might be. Edwards regarded drained. And as an alternative of pushing the motion, his strategy as these ultimate 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! Performed!”

These had been the phrases Edwards shouted into the digital camera proper after the struggle ended at 4 minutes, 4 seconds of that 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 best facet of the champ’s head, and, nicely, bang … performed.

In one of the gorgeous comeback victories the Octagon has ever seen in a championship struggle, the struggle was over and there was a brand new champ. This upset may need been unthinkable to some, however MMA followers have been educated to anticipate the sudden. Simply final December, girls’s pound-for-pound No. 1 Amanda Nunes had been upset by Julianna Peña. That was a fair greater shock than this end result. If something, it ready us all for what occurred this night time.

Nonetheless, a lot about this end result was unthinkable. For one factor, Usman got here into the bout not simply as welterweight champ, but additionally 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 truth, within the leadup to this night time, one might have been forgiven for not even figuring out that Edwards was a part of the UFC 278 principal occasion. Almost each superlative within the narrative hyping up this struggle 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 go that check, 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 coming into the bout on a 10-fight unbeaten streak — he hadn’t misplaced since a 2015 determination defeat in opposition to Usman — Edwards had been largely missed. I imply, Jorge Masvidal bought two photographs on the belt earlier than Edwards bought his.

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

“Have a look at me now!” Edwards demanded repeatedly in his postfight interview.

Nicely, champ, you now have your entire world’s consideration. — Jeff Wagenheim


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

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

Luke Rockhold has not received a struggle since 2017 and has only one win since 2015. On Saturday night time at UFC 278, Rockhold gassed out by the top of the primary spherical, however confirmed a ton of coronary heart in ending the bout in opposition to Paulo Costa in a unanimous determination loss. Rockhold really continued to place forth offense in opposition to Costa, regardless of being completely exhausted, at instances bending over and placing his palms on his knees. It was an unpleasant efficiency, although a present of will and willpower.

Frankly, it sums up the place Rockhold is in his profession proper 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 of 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 now and many individuals anticipated Rockhold to have a protracted reign on prime. He was far and away one of the best 185-pound fighter on this 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 ft, 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 struggle), it is best to recollect him for these wins in opposition to Weidman, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Tim Kennedy and his slick end of Bisping of their first struggle. — Marc Raimondi


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

Let me be clear. Aldo simply had a three-fight win streak snapped, and it is not 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 important to ask your self what cause he has to struggle once more. He mentioned his final aim was to retire as a champion, and that if he got here up quick on Saturday, he would want to take a seat down together with his staff to hash out his future.

Aldo nonetheless regarded quick on Saturday, however he did not look as quick as we have all the time recognized 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 which may have been there earlier in his profession to will one thing to occur. We could be seeing the primary indicators of a decline, and if that is the case, there actually is not any cause to maintain going. If he desires a retirement struggle in Brazil in January, which I might definitely see him wanting, the game would 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 in opposition to Ike Villanueva in April. In each fights, although neither lasted lengthy, Pedro has proven improved endurance and management. He is the kind of fighter that will not let these two wins get to his head. I feel he’ll hold working to enhance and develop his recreation.

With solely eight fights below his belt within the UFC and having simply made his return to the game, it is best to permit him to seek out his footing once more. Coming into this struggle, Pedro had already confronted robust competitors when he fought from 2016 to 2018, however with such a protracted layoff, he is comparatively new once more.

The UFC might look to provide him a shot in opposition to a ranked opponent in his subsequent struggle and a case might be made that he and Dustin Jacoby could be a very good matchup. Generally after a fighter has showings as Pedro had in his final two appearances, fighters may be rushed into going through extra notable opponents, however one of the best development for him could be to provide him matchups that enable him to slowly work his means up and get 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

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