Leon Edwards‘ surprising fifth-round knockout of Kamaru Usman stunned fight fans. Edwards was less than a minute away from a loss when he landed a beautiful head kick that instantly ended the fight. His coach, Dave Lovell, has doubted whether the former No.1-ranked pound-for-pound fighter can recover from the vicious knockout.
Speaking with Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie, Lovell questioned whether Usman could mentally recover from the defeat, stating (starting at the 23:32 mark):
When a man gets knocked out cold in that fashion, let me tell you, not only can it change his fighting and potentially his life – and especially Kamaru’s got that bully come forward style aggression. When a bully gets tamed and gets knocked out in that fashion, physically, he can get his body back, ready to come back, but can he mentally?
Lovell continued to question Usman’s future:
That’s yet to play out. Does Kamaru come back a gun shy fighter? Can he overcome it in this short amount of time, what Dana is talking about? Me, personally, I don’t think he can.
Lovell’s comments are interesting, particularly because, as he noted, UFC President Dana White has already made it clear that Leon Edwards’ first title defense will be against Kamaru Usman. Overlooking an opponent, especially one that had been as dominant as Usman, is never wise. It is easy to forget, but Usman was controlling the fight before being knocked out.
Watch Dave Lovell’s full appearance on MMA Junkie below:
Leon Edwards, Kamaru Usman, and what’s next
Leon Edwards’ shocking UFC 278 victory means that a trilogy featuring him and Kamaru Usman is in store. Following the fight, UFC President Dana White suggested that the matchup would likely take place in the United Kingdom.
Kamaru Usman has already stated that he is looking forward to seeing Leon Edwards again soon. After controlling the fight for the majority of the five rounds, but losing, Usman is motivated to return with a vengeance.
Despite the tough loss, Kamaru Usman has consistently shown respect for Leon Edwards, giving him praise and adding that he is very happy for him. This has led fans to note that Usman has handled defeat like a champion, just as he did with victory.
While it remains to be seen, the way Usman has handled defeat gives the impression that he will indeed return as a better fighter. Sometimes great athletes need adversity for motivation, and the knockout, mixed with doubts about his ability to bounce back, provides Usman with the perfect bulletin board material to motivate himself.