“The Nigerian Nightmare” drew Leon Edwards for his sixth title defense and he appeared en route to a unanimous decision victory at UFC 278 before he was caught by a last-minute head kick. Edwards knocked out Usman and flew back to England as the undisputed 170-pound champion.
“GSP,” the division’s longtime king, spoke during a Q&A in Paris on Friday per MMA Junkie about Usman’s “crucial” mistake that led to him being dethroned. St-Pierre also gave his take on the road The Nigerian Nightmare will have to face to earn his strap back.
“Kamaru was winning the fight, but he made a crucial mistake that is unforgettable at this level,” St-Pierre said. “He zigged when he should’ve zagged, and credit to Leon Edwards. He did a beautiful setup. It was amazing, and he won the world title. Now they’re going to have a rematch, hopefully, and we’ll see. Things change. You never fight the same fighter twice. You can fight the same name twice, but you never fight the same fighter twice. Every fight leaves a scar, for the best or for the worst.
“After a loss, very often we see fighters that a loss can affect their confidence. Confidence is very important for a fighter, because you can have all the skills in the world, but if you don’t have confidence it’s like someone that has a lot of money in his bank account, but no way of accessing it. So for the magic to happen, you need the skills and the confidence.
“So we’ll see how mentally strong Kamaru Usman is, and if he comes back and wins the title, I think it will add up to his legacy even more. But it’s going to be a hell of a fight, a hell of a challenge.”
St-Pierre Praised Edward’s Fighting IQ & Skillset
GSP shared nothing but praise for Edward’s stunning defeat of Usman, and he heralded “Rocky’s” fighting intelligence and skillset as the tools that got it done.
“He showcased, in the first round, incredible skills to put Kamaru Usman on his back, mount him, taking his back. He showcased incredible skills right there,” St-Pierre said. “He was losing the second, third and fourth round, and was on his way to losing the fifth round. But I think what makes Leon Edwards so good is his fighting IQ. He is also so good at neutralizing his opponent’s strength.
“He is very good at shutting down his opponent’s strength and bringing the fight where he is comfortable – to make his opponent fight outside of his comfort zone, and I think that’s why Leon Edwards is so good.”
Edwards vs. Usman 3 Is Likely Next
UFC president Dana White has said on multiple occasions that the promotion will pursue the trilogy bout between Edwards and Usman next. They originally fought in 2015 and The Nigerian Nightmare bested Edwards via unanimous decision.
Both combatants are interested in running the third fight next as well, and White said at the UFC 278 post-fight press conference that staging the fight next year in England could happen.