Leon Edwards shocked the world with his fifth-round head kick knockout of Kamaru Usman in Salt Lake City at UFC 278, and while the nature of the comeback victory was enough for dramatic effect, Edwards’ journey to that moment made it all the sweeter.
Potentially the unluckiest contender for a two-year stretch, Edwards made the most of his shot and is set to headline a dream event at UFC 286: Edwards vs Usman 3 as he makes the first defense of his title in London. Before he attempts to rattle the MMA world once again, take a look at some of his best fights:
Edwards vs Kamaru Usman 2
You can’t start a list of Edwards’ fights without including the one that made him a champion. For years, Usman tabbed Edwards as the most difficult opponent he had faced, even as Usman took out challenger after challenger.
In Salt Lake City, Edwards showed why that was. Down on the scorecards and with a fire lit under him from his coach Dave Lovell, Edwards fired off the strike that made him the second champion to hail from the United Kingdom.
Edwards vs Rafael Dos Anjos
In his first main event, Edwards put together an all-around dominant performance against former lightweight champion and welterweight title challenger Rafael Dos Anjos. The fight was not only a milestone because of its headlining nature, but also because it showed Edwards’ well-roundedness.
For 25 minutes, Edwards thwarted RDA’s best attacks while keeping full control of the fight in San Antonio.
Edwards vs Nate Diaz
Edwards didn’t need to give Nate Diaz a pathway to a welterweight title shot, but “Rocky” knew he needed a signature victory to reassert his claim as the No. 1 contender.
For about 24 minutes, Edwards put on a striking masterclass against the fan-favorite, but he needed to weather a mighty storm in the last minute that one could argue set him up for his last-minute heroics against Usman a year afterward.
Edwards vs Gunnar Nelson
Although the O2 Arena will almost certainly shower Edwards with cheers as he walks to the Octagon on March 18, he did not receive as friendly a welcome when he fought Gunnar Nelson in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night: Till vs Masvidal.
He did, however, assert himself well against the fan favorite. Despite Nelson’s lauded grappling, Edwards more or less outgrappled him and nearly finished him with a vicious strike in the second round.
Edwards vs Seth Baczynski
Any time there’s a sub-10-second knockout, it’s got to be included on a list like this. In Edwards’ second UFC outing, he bounced back from a split decision loss with a lightning quick win in Poland to secure his first victory in the Octagon.