Kamaru Usman remembers fighting Leon Edwards one second, and then answering questions on the inside of an ambulance the next.
The former UFC Welterweight Champion was hit in the head by Edwards during the main event at UFC 278. He was left on the floor, not on top of the 170-pound section. Usman offered his recollection of the finish during an appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience, and while he said he felt fine, the aftermath of Usman’s first KO loss is spotty at best.
“I was good,” Usman said. “I watched it over. I am good. I was talking, I talked to Trevor [Wittman], I talked to everyone, because you know you go back and then you go in the medical tent and they take care of you and all of that. I talked to my family, I hugged everyone, because it was on video and everything. I remember sitting. I remember sitting there. Leon then gave me a 20-minute rest.
” I was having a great time in the hospital, laughing so hard because I needed to be scanned. Everything was perfect. Immediately I come to, I’m in the ambulance, they’re asking, ‘Do you know where you are?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, Salt Lake City. UFC I’m asked, “What is your date of birth?” They answer. They are like, “Wow! That’s perfect!” I replied everything perfectly .”
Everything before the knockout was clear to Usman. He explained that even though he had lost the first round on each scorecard, he already felt in a zone in which he could control the fight for the remainder of it.
“In the first round, the fight is going on and boom, that situation happens,” Usman said. “He hooked my leg, and this is my bad knee — both of them aren’t the greatest — so I’m like, OK let me hip him through. He had a great hip position so I tried to hip him but I was unable to do it. This was what I was most upset about. “F ***!” was my response. I gave up a takedown.’
” So we sit down, he takes my back and I just wait for the bell to go off. I then get up. I don’t know why until I saw the fight over again. I got up and kinda smiled. I get up, jog back towards my corner and then I see it again and realize that that was where I was. It was a place where nothing bothers me. This will be .”
what I envision.
Sure enough, Usman won three more rounds. He was on track to defend his title and move up to 16-0 at the UFC.
Usman clearly recalls trying to create his own dramatic ending before Edwards hit first and put Usman in bed.
“What I wanted to do was set him up and I was going to throw the punches that he couldn’t see and I wanted to sit him down and get him out of there,” Usman said. He was not going to let me go. The only thing I will do is shake left and shake right, then let it go. But I have to first get him moving, which I did not do very well.
” I’m moving. I don’t know where I was. I shake left, I shake right, and I’m sitting in an ambulance and they’re asking me, ‘Do you know where you’re at?’ I’m like, ‘What the f***?'”
Though Usman appeared to be fine, he was still taken to the hospital for further examination, which gave him plenty of time to mull over the loss. It was just the second time Usman failed to get his hand raised in a fight and he still considers his first loss — which came via rear-naked choke submission to Jose Caceres in 2013 in what was Usman’s second pro fight — to be worse.
He also feels at ease knowing that Edwards was just being lucky and that his knockout cost him his title.
” I was already in good health,” Usman stated about his hospital stay. I was fine. I was maybe disappointed that I lost, but I wasn’t bummed like the first loss I had in my career. That one f***** with me. It was the uncertainty of the future and also because there was nothing I could do, I couldn’t defend myself because I didn’t have the knowledge. That was what hurt me the most. … With this one it was like, I know my mistakes. This is the only thing that I have said. I am very open with myself. I am honest with myself to where I’m like, ‘S***, OK, he got me. He saved me. I didn’t do a good job of what I wanted to do and he got me.’
” I don’t like people saying that he was lucky. Luck isn’t what everybody is saying to me. Lucky is the combination of opportunity and preparation. That’s what luck looks like to me. It’s impossible to say that Leon did not train this kick. Of course he did. That kick was something I learned from a friend who is not a southpaw. I know he trained that kick and there’s video of him actually training — of course he trained that, that’s what a well-rounded No. 1 contender in mixed martial arts in the world should do. Yeah, he did get lucky. He was ready to hit a similar kick. I presented him with the opportunity and he landed the kick and here we are.”