Following last night’s UFC 278 event the recipients of the evening’s $50,000 bonus awards were announced.
A weird and wild co-main event battle between Paulo Costa and Luke Rockhold was awarded ‘Fight Of The Night’ honors.
Returning after a three-year hiatus from the sport and fighting at high altitude quickly seemed to take a toll on former middleweight champion Rockhold, who already looked tired by the end of the first round exchanges, not helped by the fact that the hard-hitting Costa had already busted up his nose and had some success on the mat too.
It’s never a good sign when a fighter still has their hands on their knees prior to the second round, so things were looking particularly bleak for Rockhold at that stage, yet he somehow managed to dig deep within his soul and not only continue to fight, but even threaten with some dangerous strikes when he could muster the energy to throw them.
Meanwhile, Costa wasn’t fully pressing home the advantage and going all-out for the finish, perhaps wary of either burning through his own energy reserves or getting caught by a sudden big strike, but he was still pressuring Rockhold with his own offense, and continued to have good spells on the mat too.
To his credit Rockhold somehow survived until the end of the fight, and even managed to transition on top late in the third round after being in a bad spot, at which point he bizarrely opted to rub the blood pouring from his nose onto Costa in the final seconds. A crazy fight then, which Costa would win by unanimous decision, while Rockhold declared he was too old and retired in his post-fight interview.
Meanwhile, there was never any doubt about who one of the ‘Performance Of The Night’ bonuses was going to as Leon Edwards delivered one of the most amazing finishes the sport has ever seen in the final minute of his welterweight title fight against Kamaru Usman.
Up until that moment, four minutes and four seconds into the fifth round, Usman had appeared to be cruising to victory, after bouncing back from losing the opening round to comfortably winning the following three.
However, just when everybody believed the fight was going the distance and the result was a foregone conclusion, Edwards suddenly faked a jab followed by a straight left to cause Usman to duck to the side, then simultaneously launched a picture-perfect head kick that connected as clean as a fighter could ever hope for, knocking the previously undefeated champion out.
And with that Edwards lived up to his nickname with a true ‘Rocky’ moment and goes down in history with one of the greatest finishes in a title fight, and also one of the best comeback KO’s in the history of the sport.
Also earning a performance bonus was prelim fighter Victor Altamirano, who appeared to be in trouble early in the fight as Daniel lacerda gained the upperhand and had him hurt, but he was able to reverse his fortunes, starting with a knee to the body that dropped his opponent, before relentlessly landing big elbow and punches on top until the TKO finish.