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Nisar Khan


Nisar is the founder, lead writer and CEO of SportingMatrix. He covers all sports from football to UFC and the Olympics. Nisar first started writing on his personal blog back in 2012 and has continued to cover sports ever since. Nisar also hosts CATCHWEIGHT, a weekly podcast on the world of combat sports. You can find all of his posts below.




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UFC 278: Edwards dethrones Usman with earth-shaking head kick

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Image: MMA Fighting
There was some initial turbulence for the dominant welterweight champion and pound-for-pound king Kamaru Usman to endure in the UFC 278 main event, but once again it appeared that the Nigerian had manoeuvred his way through the storm and was well on track for another convincing victory. But in the final minute of the final round, Birmingham's Leon "Rocky" Edwards would shock the world in a way only a Hollywood film could script, knocking the champion out cold with a spectacular head kick to clutch the riches at 170 pounds.

No follow up was needed as Jamaican-born Edwards snapped the 19-fight win streak of Usman, avenging a defeat almost 7 years prior, and in the process achieving a lifelong dream.

"They all said I couldn't do it. Look at me now," exclaimed the 30-year-old who, over the few pandemic-ridden years, appeared all but cursed in securing his shot at the gold. But despite the odds and the manner in which the fight was going, all he needed was one singular moment to land what may now go down as the greatest head kick knockout in UFC history.

Pedro punctures Hunsucker's light heavyweight float

City Kickboxing's Tyson Pedro needed only a minute and change to spoil the light heavyweight debut of Harry Hunsucker. 

After both combatants took a look, Pedro timed Hunsucker's step-in to meet him with a thumping jab that bothered the American, following up with a crisp combination ending with a stinging left hook. As "The Hurricane" tried to see out the storm, Pedro found the mark on the solar plexus with a front kick that instantly wilted his opponent, jumping on some ground-and-pound to finish the job in an explosive opening to the main card.

Pudilová pummels Yanan to burst back onto UFC scene

More than two-and-a-half years after her first UFC stint came to an end with a losing skid, Lucie Pudilová burst back on to the scene with a merciless stoppage of Wu Yanan.

After some tentative striking exchanges, the gameplan of the Czech bantamweight became clear, shooting for a double leg against the fence to which Yanan was able to resist. But the grappling attempts would continue with a well-timed trip that allowed Pudilová to control her opponent for a large chunk of the round, with Yanan only able to limit the damage.

There were more tepid striking exchanges in the second round where both teased the leg kicks but to no significant effect. A scarf hold takedown for Pudilová would signal the beginning of the end as she firstly got the back of her Chinese opponent who denied the rear-naked choke, before transitioning to full mount and capitalised on the opening to rain down massive elbows and punches. Yanan tried covering up and escaping but the onslaught was too much and referee Herb Dean called off the contest.

"The Machine" overrides Aldo

The Aldo-adoring fans at the Vivint Arena may not have been impressed, but Merab Dvalishvili did what needed to be done, grinding out a unanimous decision win over the legendary Jose Aldo.

The former featherweight king received a rapturous applause as he made his way to the Octagon but it was the Georgian who prompted the first gasp when he opened up with a spinning back kick. In what would become a frequent occurrence throughout the contest, "The Machine" Dvalishvili shot deep on a takedown and had his opponent up against the fence, unable to take him down as he wriggled to safety. The WEC and UFC veteran then blasted a hard leg kick that knocked the European off balance although the constant pressure and workrate from Dvalishvili appeared to pay dividends, planting his feet in the pocket in the final seconds of the first stanza when Aldo tried to land some hooks to the body.

The Georgian kept on his feet, springing in and out of range and landing light but clean kicks to the body and leg. He mixed it up with another takedown attempt resulting in a clinch against the fence. Unable to progress the grappling further, Dvalishvili resorted to firing knees to the leg of Aldo, in which the Brazilian responded with some kidology making yawning gestures towards the crowd. When Aldo was able to get back into space he timed a knee up the middle well and throughout the fight had the more eye-catching moments, but they were sporadic in comparison to the steady stream of activity coming from the blue corner.

The relentless pace applied from Dvalishvili appeared to take its toll in the final round as Aldo began backing off and his already low workrate dwindled to crumbs. Dvalishvili was now trying to land hard punches but none were enough to disrupt the boxing savvy Brazilian, alas in vein as Dvalishvili secured a bodylock and briefly had Aldo's hands on the mat as he saw out the fight like he had fought most of it - in commanding control in the grappling exchanges. Jose Aldo had his moments but stepped off the gas and couldn't match the workrate of the Georgian who edges closer to the bantamweight titlte held by his good friend and training partner Aljamain Sterling.

Rockhold bows out in wild and wonderful war with Costa

Former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold left it all in the Octagon in a barnburner of a co-main event that saw Paulo Costa outpower him for three chaotic rounds.

"The Eraser" Costa applied pressure from the jump though a wide lead hook from his American opponent gave him something to think about early. Costa secured a takedown and landed some punishing ground-and-pound however the former champion was able to scramble his way back to the feet. After four hard body kicks the Brazilian was undeterred and continued to press forward with Rockhold's back against the fence for a majority of the opening stanza. The body language from the veteran showed a beaten man after the first round, with his hands on his knees in exhaustion.

Knowing that he was perhaps on borrowed time Rockhold applied aggression to start the second frame but would soon find himself on the retreat once again. Costa was totting up the punches but the American wasn't going away just yet, pulling off a crazy tornado roundhouse kick to the body of Costa. Costa was also appearing to feel the pace at 1288m altitude and both were perhaps grateful of the break caused by a low blow when Costa landed on the cup of Rockhold. 

Somehow as Rockhold made it into the final round "Borrachina" tried to finish the job but found himself wobbled by a hard left hand as a defiant Rockhold shouted "f**k you" at his opponent before detonating a massive punch. But Costa's pressure allowed him to see out the fight with jabs snapping the head back of his opponent and a right hand landing on his nose causing him to grimace. A panic takedown attempt from Rockhold was sprawled allowing Costa to control him on the mat in the closing minutes and pursue a rear-naked choke, but there would be one last crazy moment in store when Rockhold gained top position and smeared his blood over the face of Costa. "Just Bleed" version 2.0.

A real life Rocky story

After a tricky early period for the champion, it appeared once again that Kamaru Usman had figured out the puzzle as he was on his way to a convincing points win in the main event. But with a minute on the clock, Leon "Rocky" Edwards went for broke in a fashion only seen in movies, knocking the champion out cold with a head kick to capture the UFC welterweight title in stunning fashion.

Following some early attacks to the body and lead leg from the Englishman, Usman closed the distance in a bid to impose his physicality on the contest. Leon did well to fend off the initial attempt but would surrender top control when trying to get a takedown for himself. Edwards diligently worked back to the standing clinch before providing the first major shock of the main event - tripping the champion and being the first man to take him down. From there, he progressed from full mount to a body triangle and saw out the first stanza pursuing a rear-naked choke. Things couldn't have gone much better for the challenger.

There was more pressure from the Nigerian after the interval as he tried to pressure his opponent against the cage wall. With Edwards now wary of takedown threats there were more openings in the striking realm as Usman buzzed him with an uppercut through the guard. After a brief pause for a suspected eye poke, Edwards landed some clean counters as Usman tried to swing for the fences - however it was Usman who had the confidence boost by the end of round two with a much easier takedown attempt.

Feeling the pace of the champion, Edwards was guilty of stagnating in the third, leaving a single leg out which Usman obliged for a straightforward takedown. Edwards refused to accept the position and wall-walked back to a standing position to knee him on the break, but the chain wrestling of Usman was prominent as he secured another takedown and made Usman carry his weight for the remainder of the round.

A wild looping left from Edwards was too telegraphed to start the championship rounds as Usman really began to cement his authority. Some good jabs followed from the champion however he did find himself in a predicament again when Leon got his back in the clinch. Nothing would come of it and barely seconds after they broke Usman landed another takedown to wear down his opponent.

There was desperation in the Edwards corner and a look of dejection from the Birmingham resident who was backing off in the fifth round while Usman mixed up his strikes with takedown attempts. Then, with just a minute remaining on the clock, Edwards pressed forward, pawed with his lead hand and detonated a head kick around the world to land on Usman's skull as he dipped to his right hand side. The champion folded like a deck chair with no follow up necessary, and with that, Leon Edwards had produced one of the most spectacular UFC championship wins in history.

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SportingMatrix • We Live For Sport: UFC 278: Edwards dethrones Usman with earth-shaking head kick
UFC 278: Edwards dethrones Usman with earth-shaking head kick
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SportingMatrix • We Live For Sport
https://www.thesportmatrix.com/2022/08/ufc-278-report.html
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