Dominated for the better part of four rounds, Leon Edwards needed just one moment to shine.
Edwards delivered a head-kick knockout of Kamaru Usman Saturday night, claiming the UFC welterweight title at UFC 278.
Usman, the long-running champion, allowed his first takedown in the opening round. However, he quickly recovered from there, holding a sizable edge in strikes for the remainder of the fight.
An edge, though, that disappeared with one perfectly-placed kick.
Former UFC champions Luke Rockhold and Jose Aldo were bested, falling to Merab Dvalishvili and Paulo Costa.
Rockhold, who announced his plans to retire following the bout, was unable to gain traction against Costa. Aldo also suffered a decision loss in a bantamweight battle.
Dvalishvili moved to 15-4 overall and 8-0 over his last eight fights. Costa snapped a two-fight losing skid with the win, improving to 14-2 overall.
Lucie Pudilova made the most of her second opportunity in the UFC, dominating and finishing Wu Yanan. Pudilova was released in 2020, but reeled off four wins in five fights to earn her spot again.
Light heavyweight Tyson Pedro kicked off the main card with a finish of Harry Hunsucker. Pedro landed in the opening minute, putting Hunsucker away for his ninth career win.
The ESPN and ABC prelims featured a little bit of everything. Marcin Tybura upset favorite Alexander Romanov in the main attraction, earning a decision.
Jared Gordon dominated Leonardo Santos, Sean Woodson and Luis Saldana battled to a draw and Ange Loosa topped A.J. Fletcher.
On the early prelims, Amir Albazi, Aori Qileng and Victor Altamirano all picked up wins. Albazi won by submission in the first round and Altamirano by TKO in the first.
The event marked the first for the UFC in Utah since 2016. The attendance was announced at 17,500, setting an arena-record gate of $4.295 million. It was also the 23rd consecutive sellout of a full-capacity venue for the promotion.
UFC 278 Results
Leon Edwards def. Kamaru Usman via KO (head-kick) at 4:05 of Round 5 to become the new UFC welterweight champion
Paulo Costa def. Luke Rockhold via unanimous decision
Merab Dvalishvili def. Jose Aldo via unanimous decision
Lucie Pudilova def. Wu Yanan via TKO (strikes) at 4:04 of Round 2
Tyson Pedro def. Harry Hunsucker via TKO (strikes) at 1:05 of Round 1
Marcin Tybura def. Alexander Romanov via majority decision
Jared Gordon def. Leonardo Santos via unanimous decision
Sean Woodson vs. Luis Saldana declared a draw
Ange Loosa def. A.J. Fletcher via unanimous decision
Amir Albazi def. Francisco Figueiredo via submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:34 of Round 1
Aori Qileng def. Jay Perrin via unanimous decision
Victor Altamirano def. Daniel Lacerda via TKO (strikes) at 3:39 of Round 1
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