Kamaru Usman (L) and Leon Edwards (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Combat Press 2022 MMA Awards: Comeback of the Year – Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman

A new year is here and that means it’s time for Combat Press to take a look back at the best of MMA in 2022. In the coming days, Combat Press will announce its award winners in multiple categories, covering everything from the action in the cage to the biggest stories surrounding the sport.

There is a reason championship fights are five rounds long. Sometimes, it takes the full 25 minutes to determine the winner, whether it is back and forth throughout the contest or one fighter has to rally back to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. There is perhaps nothing more likely to have fans leave their seats than a fighter who is clearly losing a fight coming back to capture the unlikeliest of wins.

In 2022, one fight stood out well above the rest in terms of dramatic comebacks. Last August, at UFC 278, Kamaru Usman went into a rematch with Leon Edwards after stringing together 19 straight victories, including winning the welterweight championship and defending the belt five times. For his part, Edwards came into the showdown with an 11-fight unbeaten streak of his own.


After a strong opening round, Edwards clearly lost the next three rounds. The wrestling of Usman had totally nullified the dynamic striking offense of the British contender. Unable to get anything going, even the commentary team was suggesting that Edwards was looking to gain a moral victory simply by going the distance.

With just under a minute left in the fifth and final round, it seemed like the show was over and the final credits were about to roll. Then, things changed, and they changed in an instant. A pawing right jab from Edwards, thrown just as a distraction, caught Usman’s eye for just a moment, but that is all that was necessary. Seemingly out of nowhere, Edwards snapped a left high kick that landed across the side of the head of Usman and closed the show in an instant. No follow-up shots were needed. Referee Herb Dean waved off the fight, and fans in attendance, and across the world, stood in shock as the title changed hands in the most unlikeliest of fashions. Leon Edwards evened the rivalry at one win apiece and set up the trilogy bout with one left high kick. Without a doubt, that stunning come-from-behind knockout is the clear choice for the Combat Press 2022 MMA Award for Comeback of the Year.