After the way things ended between Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman last time they shared the Octagon together, you knew an immediate rematch was in order, writes www.ufc.com.
Edwards pulled off the stunning final-minute finish at UFC 278, landing a left high kick that sent Usman down and out, turning what was set to be a unanimous decision win for the champion into one of the most ‘Can You Believe It’ moments in recent MMA memory.
Edwards did well in the opening frame, surprising Usman with a takedown early to get out of the gates quickly, but ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ steadied himself and controlled nearly every second of the next 19 minutes of the fight. Edwards seemed beaten, resigned, as Din Thomas, Joe Rogan, and Daniel Cormier suggested, to losing a unanimous decision, only for Jon Anik to suggest, ‘but that is not the cloth from which he is cut,’ a fraction of a second before Edwards went high and put Usman out.
What makes this fight so fascinating is that how things ended in Salt Lake City left a heap of questions lingering over these combatants and this contest, and they’re likely to be answered on Saturday night in London.
We have no idea how Usman will respond to being knocked out and knocked from the welterweight throne, not to mention having had his lengthy unbeaten streak snapped. And for as outstanding as the finish was, will Edwards build off that historic moment or slip back into the rhythm and pattern that had him down on the scorecards heading into that final minute?
And what impact will fighting in London have on each man? Will the partisan crowd pick up Edwards and push him to be the best version of himself we’ve seen to date? Will Usman thrive on being the ‘road team’ looking to send the home supporters off with a loss?
This is a compelling contest even without the UFC welterweight title hanging in the balance, and it should be tense and captivating from the very start.