Salt Lake City delivered with a top-notch card in front of a sold-out crowd at the Vivint Arena. We saw some truly remarkable performances from the best fighters in the world, and the fans certainly went home happy. The main card featured UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman going for the sixth defense of his welterweight title in a rematch against rising contender Leon Edwards. The card also featured the return of former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold against the former title challenger Paulo Costa, and the King of Rio, Jose Aldo face-off against Merab Dvalishvili.
Let’s recap what went down.
If 56 more seconds had passed, Kamaru Usman would have retained his UFC welterweight title, and extended his winning streak to 20. That all changed after a picture-perfect left high kick from Leon Edwards put the pound-for-pound king out cold on the canvas. It’s a massive upset, and one of the biggest comebacks of the year that we will be talking about for years to come. It was a difficult first round for the former champion, being taken down for the first time in his career, but he rebounded in the second, third, fourth, and the majority of the fifth round. Leon’s corner screamed at him in a panic to turn things around in the last round, and he sure did with a huge win. Leon becomes the second Brit to hold a UFC title and the first-ever Jamaican-Born champion. Congratulations to Leon!
Luke Rockhold Announces His Retirement After One Final War
This fight did not go the way most fight fans thought it would go, but man Paulo Costa and Luke Rockhold put on an all-time classic, and arguably one of the best fights of 2022. It looked like immediately after Paulo landed the first shot, Luke looked visibly uncomfortable. Luke seemed to be playing catch-up for the rest of the fight but showed massive heart, and even landed a couple of huge shots that wobbled Paulo and kept him in the fight. Costa earned the Unanimous Decision win, and shortly thereafter, Rockhold announced his retirement from mixed martial arts. Luke is the former Strikeforce and UFC middleweight champion and owns wins over the likes of Chris Weidman, Lyoto Machida, Michael Bisping, Tim Kennedy, and Jacare Souza.
Congratulations on an amazing career Luke!
Merab Dvalishvili Defeats The Legend, Jose Aldo
It certainly wasn’t the most exciting fight, but Merab Dvalishvili’s pressure, pace, and volume outlasted Aldo throughout three rounds. Merab attempted sixteen takedowns, but despite not landing any of them, he controlled Aldo through the entirety of the fight in the clinch, and Aldo could not get going offensively. Merab outlasts Jose Aldo, the number three ranked contender, but now what? His training partner and good friend, Aljamain Sterling is the current UFC bantamweight champion and Merab has stated that he will not fight him. It will be interesting to see what happens next, and with a fresh wave of contenders, it’s never been a more exciting time to be a bantamweight.
Tyson Pedro Earns His Second TKO Win Back From Injury
It certainly did not last long, but Tyson Pedro sent the Vivint Arena into a frenzy with a one-minute, five-second knockout over Harry Hunsucker. Hunsucker looked to be in top-tier shape for his Light Heavyweight debut, but Pedro’s power proved to be too much for Harry. Pedro stunned him with a stiff jab and put him down with a body kick. It was interesting to see how Pedro would respond following a three-and-a-half-year layoff, but his second knockout win in a row is gaining him some serious momentum in this Light Heavyweight division. I’m very excited to see what’s next for Pedro, as his talent surely belongs within the top fifteen of the division.
Not One, But Two Draws?
UFC 278 almost had not one, but two draws on tonight’s card, with one being somewhat controversial. In the first round of the Sean Woodson and Luis Saldana fight, Saldana dominated Woodson with two knockdowns but was deducted a point for a blatantly illegal knee. The next two rounds were lackluster, to say the least, but after the 9-9 first round, judge Derek Cleary gave the next two rounds to Woodson, while judge Rich Montanez gave two rounds to Woodson. Judge Mike Bell gave one round for each fighter, which prompted the 29-27, 28-28, 27-29 split draw.
The featured prelim between Marcin Tybura and Alexandr Romanov was arguably another controversial decision, in which Tybura gave Romanov his first professional loss. The first round was so dominant by Romanov, that a lot of people certainly thought the judges would warrant a 10-8 round in favor of Alexandr, but the only judge to do so was Derek Cleary. Cleary was also the only judge to score the fight a draw, while the other two scored the fight in favor of Tybura. If another judge had scored that first round a 10-8 for Romanov, we likely would have seen a majority draw. However, it is Marcin Tybura who prevailed over the formerly undefeated Alexandr Romanov in a significant upset.
Amir Albazi: The Black Belt Destroyer
Amir Albazi returned to the Flyweight division after over a year away with a dominant performance, stopping Fransisco Figueiredo in the first round. Fransisco is the brother of UFC Flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo, and he made some noise prior to the fight by saying that his brother should move up to bantamweight so that he could capture the Flyweight title. This loss surely puts a halt to those plans, but tonight belongs to Amir Albazi who submits another Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Submission wins over Malcolm Gordon and Fransisco Figueiredo are super impressive to have on one’s resume, which exemplifies the talent that Amir Albazi has.
Overall, it was a fantastic main card, capped off with a massive upset from Leon Edwards. We have a new UFC welterweight champion, and in two weeks, the UFC travels to Paris, France for the first time with a massive card headlined by top five heavyweights Ciryl Gane and Tai Tuivasa. In the co-main event, former middleweight title challengers Robert Whittaker and Marvin Vettori will meet for the first time on what should be a monumental card.
Join over 100,000 fight fans and receive the best fight week content every Friday morning.
Check out our lastest edition.