Nearly two weeks ago, in the fifth round of the main event at UFC 278, Edwards knocked out Usman (20-2 MMA, 15-1 UFC) and ended the reign of the previously unbeaten Usman (20-2 MMA, 15-1 UFC). With 54 seconds left in the fight, "The Nigerian Nightmare" was on his way to a unanimous decision on the scorecards and a record-tying 16th consecutive octagon victory. However, he was caught by a stunning head kick that brought it all crashing down.
The question of how Usman will respond after getting knocked out for the first time, and in such a harsh fashion, was posed by Edwards's magnificent moment.
UFC Hall of Famer and former long-time division champion Georges St-Pierre agrees, saying that Usman's mental toughness will be the deciding factor in whether or not he regains his championship.
“Kamaru was winning the fight, but he made a crucial mistake that is unforgettable at this level,” St-Pierre said.
“He zigged when he should’ve zagged, and credit to Leon Edwards. He did a beautiful setup. It was amazing, and he won the world title. Now they’re going to have a rematch, hopefully, and we’ll see. Things change. You never fight the same fighter twice. You can fight the same name twice, but you never fight the same fighter twice. Every fight leaves a scar, for the best or for the worst.
“After a loss, very often we see fighters that a loss can affect their confidence. Confidence is very important for a fighter, because you can have all the skills in the world, but if you don’t have confidence it’s like someone that has a lot of money in his bank account, but no way of accessing it. So for the magic to happen, you need the skills and the confidence. So we’ll see how mentally strong Kamaru Usman is, and if he comes back and wins the title, I think it will add up to his legacy even more. But it’s going to be a hell of a fight, a hell of a challenge.”
“That’s what makes the beauty of the sport, if you’re on the side of the winner, of course, because everything could happen,” St-Pierre said.
“It would be boring if you would always know who would win. Like in any other sport, fighting, football – it’s no different. The best team doesn’t always win the game. It’s the team who plays the best the night of the game that will win. Fighting is the same. It’s not the best fighter that wins the fight. It’s the fighter that fights the best the night of the fight.”