Leon Edwards stops Kamaru Usman at the end of 5th place and wins the welterweight title – Daily News
By JOHN COON
SALT LAKE CITY – Leon Edwards dropped Kamaru Usman with a kick to the head and neck in the final minute of the fifth round to claim the welterweight championship at UFC 278 on Saturday night.
Usman looked to be seconds away from a 16th straight win, which would have tied an all-time UFC record, before Edwards came in with the stunning finish just in time.
Edwards (20-3) is undefeated since his previous fight with Usman in 2015. The British fighter moved up to No. 2 in the welterweight division while racking up nine wins in that streak heading into the title fight.
Usman (20-2) lived up to his reputation as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world for much of the fight. The Nigerian resisted a late first-round takedown and turned it around with a late second-round takedown. Usman controlled the position throughout the third round, earning two more eliminations. Usman appeared on his way to a unanimous decision win before Edwards rallied in the final round.
Paulo Costa prevailed over former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold in a unanimous decision in the middleweight bout. Costa (14-2) had lost back-to-back fights in Salt Lake City.
Rockhold (16-5) returned to the octagon for the first time in three years and his rust showed as the fight progressed. Costa more than doubled Rockhold in total strikes through the first two rounds and finally left him with a bloody mouth in round three. Rockhold wiped his own blood from Costa’s face in the closing seconds of the round as the two fighters were locked in a stalemate on the ground.
Merab Dvalishvili prevailed over former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo in a unanimous decision in the men’s bantamweight bout, earning his eighth straight win. Aldo (31-8) had vocal support from the crowd but wore out under relentless pressure from Dvalishvili (15-4) in three rounds.
Lucie Pudilova defeated Wu Yanan in the women’s bantamweight main event for her third straight win. Yanan suffered his fourth consecutive defeat. Pudilova earned a TKO at 4:04 in the second round after dragging Yanan to the canvas and repeatedly smashing his elbows from a back mount.
Tyson Pedro earned a TKO over Harry Hunsucker at 1:05 of the first round of the light heavyweight fight to complete the main card fights.
Marcin Tybura handed Alexandr Romanov his first UFC career loss in the heavyweight bout, winning by majority decision. Romanov (18-1) slammed Tybura (23-7) to the canvas several times in the first round, but ran out of steam in the remaining two rounds.
Sean Woodson and Luis Saldana battled to a rare knockdown draw in a featherweight preliminary bout earlier in the evening. It was the first career draw for both fighters.