Teddy Atlas thinks Kamaru Usman got overconfident with his boxing and forgot that he was in an MMA fight against Leon Edwards at UFC 278.
Atlas, a world-renowned boxing trainer, described how a simple boxing parry led to Usman slipping his head in the wrong direction and getting knocked out with a head kick that cost him his welterweight championship.
Atlas claims the knockout could have been avoided if only Usman had remembered he was in a mixed martial arts fight and not a boxing match, reminding ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ that there are kicks to worry about as well as punches in MMA.
“When that throwaway left hand came at him, he slipped his head to his right to get away from it, the way that you would in boxing but he forgot this ain’t boxing,” Atlas said on a recent episode of THE FIGHT with Teddy Atlas (h/t Low Kick MMA). “This is MMA, this is UFC specifically and there’s kicks to worry about.”
“I think a part of what conspired against Usman also was that he got overconfident…you got to become calm in an uncommon environment but never become comfortable, never feel safe in a dangerous environment,” Atlas said. “I thought success hurt him that he had the success he had, it almost became too easy.”
Atlas’ take on the fight doesn’t detract from Edward’s victory, with the boxing and MMA analyst giving ‘Rocky’ full credit for the win.
“He [Edwards] went out there and he freaking had the resolve to still be there after losing solidly in the fight,” Atlas said. “He was getting broken down mentally a little bit but he didn’t give in, he didn’t say no.”
Usman and Edwards are expected to rematch in a trilogy bout next year, with UFC president Dana White teasing a welterweight showdown in the U.K.