UFC 278 ended with a bang the reverberated around the world. After a number of dominant rounds Kamaru Usman was knocked out cold – and Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards was declared the Welterweight Champion of the UFC. But to get to that title, Edwards had to withstand quite a bit of MMA rules being abused by Kamaru Usman.
You can also visit our analysis of Colby Covington’s rule infractions during Masvidal match up.
In round one Edwards showed that he had the defensive wrestling required to take on Usman. He successfully defended Usman’s takedown attempts and even countered and landed a takedown mid round 1 landing in mount. From the mount position, Edwards advanced to Usman’s back. Here Usman started bending the rules with Edwards actually complaining to Dean about the inside of the glove grabs by Usman.
Usman would go on to hold on to the inside of Edwards’ glove for over 10 seconds.
It was only when Herb Dean was hovering directly over them that Usman released the thumb he had inside of Edwards’ glove.
Commentator Jon Anik speculated that when Herb Dean obscured camera’s view and leaned with his hand toward them handfighting he was registering a complaint from Edwards. It’s also possible Dean was interjecting Usman from once again inserting the finger into the glove.
Usman holds onto the Fence to pin Leon Edwards early in Round 2 and uses hanging on to the fence to transition.
In order to keep Edwards pinned while he hits, Usman once again grabbed the fence but this time with his pinky and another finger.
Edwards moved his back from the fence as Herb Dean was passing them so that Usman would be spotted.
As Herb Dean kept moving in that direction, Usman let go of the fence grab himself.
Jon Anik also noted on Usman’s fence grab saying: “Usman getting away with a little interlock of the fingers in the fence now goes to the shoulder strike.”
The action went on to move to the center of the cage at which point Edwards was accused of an eye poke.
Slow motion of the interaction showed that Edwards finger collided with the side of Usman’s head possibly engaging the eye although thankfully there was no stopping this bout.
But Usman soon recovered and was back to his old antics – except this time Herb Dean physically intervened stopping Usman’s hand from latching onto the cage.
Usman went on to dominate remainder of Round 2.
Usman would take down Edwards in Round 3. The two spent an extended period by the fence at which point Herb Dean could be heard addressing Edwards’ concern and saying ‘That wasn’t inside’ – clearly referencing Usman’s previous rule bending.
Just a couple of seconds after, Usman grabbed onto the inside of Edwards glove with his top hand (taped blue) and Dean interjected after Edwards gave him a distinct look.
At this point Dean says: “That’s the last warning.”
The commentary team was convinced that Dean was warning Edwards – not Usman, but it’s unclear.
Edwards went on to get up just as the buzzer for end of Round 3 sounded.
It was more of the same from Usman in round 4, for better and for worse.
Dean once again caught Usman holding onto the fence. Cormier went on to note ‘Usman got away with it again.’
With about a minute left on the clock, Edwards would go on to utilize the fence to get up – at which point Dean would reset them back in the initial position.
The bout kept going well into Round 5 – at which time Usman used the opportunity to call in a time out when Edwards delivered a bordeline low blow.
Ultimately Edwards caught Usman with a headkick with under a minute left on the clock however in light of all these infractions we can’t help but wonder if someone like Jason Herzog would be better off refereeing their talked about trilogy. It’s hard to see all this evidence compiled and not consider that Usman should’ve been penalized for his continued infractions throughout the match.