Khabib comments on Usman future after brutal head-kick KO defeat
Former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has admitted he was “upset” to see Kamaru Usman suffer a stunning KO defeat to Leon Edwards in their welterweight title fight – adding that bouncing back from such a violent loss would pose a significant challenge for Usman.
Usman had appeared set for a dominant win on the scorecards at UFC 278 in Salt Lake City on Saturday night, for what would have been a 16th consecutive victory inside the promotion and a sixth title defense.
But British challenger Edwards had other ideas, pulling off a brutal head-kick KO inside the last minute of the bout to relive Usman of his senses and snatch the 170lbs title. The win was also revenge for Edwards after his 2015 decision defeat to Usman.
Speaking to Sport-Express from the sidelines of an event with his promotion Eagle FC in Kazakhstan on Sunday, Khabib confessed that he had been shocked by the events unfolding the night before.
“I watched UFC fights this morning. To be honest, I was surprised. You could even say a little bit upset,” said the Dagestani star, who like Usman is managed by MMA figure Ali Abdelaziz.
“I have a very good relationship with Kamaru. It was hard to watch the best fighter in the world at the moment get knocked out with 50 seconds left in the fight with a heavy knockout.”
Khabib said that, like most people, he had viewed Usman as being on course for a fairly routine decision defense of his title.
“I thought that the fight would end according to this scenario [a decision win for Usman], like everyone.
“But this is fighting, this is MMA. You can see it yourself. You lose focus for a second, put your hand in the wrong way, put your defense in the wrong way – you switch off and then you can wake up in the locker room, it’s all over.”
Khabib, 33, said he would let the dust settle before reaching out to Usman.
“I try to communicate with fighters a couple of days [after their fights], in three or four days,” said the undefeated former lightweight champion.
“Everyone writes to them anyway, emotions are there... When everything calms down, I’ll call him.”
Dave Lovell…perhaps I should call you before my next workout you f*cking legend! Courtesy of @SeeUSoonBoyy, here is some of Leon Edwards’ corner advice before the headkick KO w/ Rocky music edit:pic.twitter.com/2mMVOxPjXS@Leon_edwardsmma— Jon Anik (@Jon_Anik) August 22, 2022
Given the stunningly violent nature of Usman’s loss – which was only the second for ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ in his 22-fight career, and a first-ever knockout defeat – Khabib suggested that not all fighters could bounce back.
“As far as I know, they are already working on a trilogy,” said the retired Russian star.
“He can beat Leon Edwards in my opinion. But after a knockout like that, a lot of people don’t recover. It will be interesting to see. I would love to see a third fight, they are 1-1 at the moment.”
Usman, 35, gracefully congratulated Edwards on his victory after the fight – but also vowed vengeance in a trilogy bout which UFC boss Dana White has suggested could take place in front of a mammoth crowd in England.
“Champs f**k up sometimes,” Usman tweeted. “But we bounce back and come with vengeance!!”
Champs f$ck up sometimes… but we bounce back and come with vengeance!! 👊🏿🌍🤴🏿 #NGHTMR— KAMARU USMAN (@USMAN84kg) August 21, 2022
Meanwhile, UFC pundit Joe Rogan has described Edwards’ finish as “the greatest head-kick knockout” that MMA has ever seen.
“Nothing compares. It’s the greatest head-kick knockout in the history of the sport – with the most consequences, the most at stake, the most doubt, the most people counting him out, including us,” said Rogan.