‘Take a look at me now’ – You have got our consideration, Leon Edwards

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What had been the most important 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 Area in Salt Lake Metropolis on Saturday night time and all these watching at dwelling that Edwards wanted to provide one thing huge. It was additionally apparent from the challenger’s physique language simply how laborious that might be. Edwards appeared drained. And as an alternative of pushing the motion, his method as these last 5 minutes ticked off the clock was puzzlingly passive. He stored 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 digicam proper after the battle 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 correct facet of the champ’s head, and, properly, bang … accomplished.

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

Nonetheless, a lot about this consequence 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 biggest fighter of all time.

In reality, within the leadup to this night time, one might have been forgiven for not even realizing that Edwards was a part of the UFC 278 major occasion. Practically each superlative within the narrative hyping up this battle card had centered on Usman. Together with the GOAT discuss, there even was hypothesis over whether or not Usman can be dealing with fast-rising Khamzat Chimaev subsequent and, ought to the champ cross that check, what problem he may 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 towards Usman — Edwards had been largely ignored. I imply, Jorge Masvidal received two pictures on the belt earlier than Edwards received his.

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

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

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


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

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

Luke Rockhold has not received a battle since 2017 and has only one win since 2015. On Saturday night time at UFC 278, Rockhold gassed out by the tip of the primary spherical, however confirmed a ton of coronary heart in ending the bout towards Paulo Costa in a unanimous determination loss. Rockhold really continued to place forth offense towards 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 dedication.

Frankly, it sums up the place Rockhold is in his profession proper now. He nonetheless has the will; 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 the very 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 an extended reign on high. He was far and away the very 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 vital expert middleweights in historical past — he might knock you out on the toes, wrestle with the very best of them and had fight-ending grappling potential. If that is it for his profession (he was unclear after the battle), 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 battle. — Marc Raimondi


Jose Aldo would 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 at all times the case, you must ask your self what purpose he has to battle once more. He mentioned his final objective was to retire as a champion, and that if he got here up brief on Saturday, he would want to sit down down along with his workforce to hash out his future.

Aldo nonetheless appeared quick on Saturday, however he did not look as quick as we have at all times identified him to be. He appeared 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 is perhaps seeing the primary indicators of a decline, and if that is the case, there actually isn’t any purpose to maintain going. If he needs a retirement battle in Brazil in January, which I might actually see him wanting, the game would embrace that. It is at all times an emotional factor when a legend is deciding how he needs 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 feel he’ll maintain working to enhance and develop his sport.

With solely eight fights underneath 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 battle, 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 provide him a shot towards a ranked opponent in his subsequent battle and a case might be made that he and Dustin Jacoby can be matchup. Typically after a fighter has showings as Pedro had in his final two appearances, fighters might be rushed into dealing with extra notable opponents, however the very best development for him can be to provide him matchups that enable him to slowly work his approach up and get again into the swing of issues. He is nonetheless in his prime, so if he can take his time making an attempt to climb the rankings, he is much less more likely to be pushed too quick too early. — Megan Anderson

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