Back then, fighters such as Valentina Shevchenko, Francis Ngannou, Charles Oliveira, and Vicente Luque were all fighting on the prelims!
That’s how long it’s been since Usman and Edwards first matchup, won by “The Nigerian Nightmare” via unanimous decision. Both have improved significantly since then.
Usman (20-1-0), 35, has gone on to greatness, winning the title from Tyron Woodley at UFC 235 and defending it five times. His next victory will tie Anderson Silva for the longest consecutive win streak in the octagon with 16. And he is a shoo-in for the UFC Hall of Fame and the GOAT conversation.
Mohammed Usman, Kamaru’s younger heavyweight brother, recently won The Ultimate Fighter. They are the only siblings to have won TUF.
But the No. 2 Edwards (19-3-0, 1NC), 30, hasn’t been standing around. Since the defeat, “Rocky” has strung together nine wins and a no-contest with Belal Muhammad due to an eye poke. This includes his most recent win over Nate Diaz at UFC 263 last year.
Edwards has said in interviews that he believes fighting Usman now is to his advantage as the champion is older, slower, and physically breaking down.
It’s true that Usman is about five years older than Edwards and broke his right hand weeks before going into the Colby Covington fight at UFC 268 earlier this year.
But Kamaru Usman is still a smart fighter with a chin who can adapt and grind out a victory with his patented grappling.
Edwards believes his improved takedown defense and footwork will crown his seven year climb back to the title.
Edwards will need to be extremely prepared Saturday. Welterweight title shots do not grow on trees.
And seven years is a long time.
In the Clinch: Edwards Confident Against Usman, UFC 278 – More Resources
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