At UFC 286 in London, Leon Edwards defeated Kamaru Usman by unanimous decision to retain his welterweight UFC title.
After a masterful display of striking that stopped the majority of Usman’s attempts at takedowns, Edwards, who has gone 12 fights without losing in the UFC, successfully defended his title in front of his own supporters.
In their three-fight series, the 31-year-old British fighter outscored former champion Kamaru Usman by a point. Although it was a close game, Edwards made the cleaner shots.
With scores of 48-46, 48-46, and 47-47, Edwards won by majority vote.
As the rapt audience watched on as Leon Edwards was announced the winner early on Sunday, there was incredible noise throughout the electric O2 Arena.
The O2 Arena fight was promoted as the biggest MMA match in British history.
In an astonishing victory over Usman in August, 35-year-old Nigerian Edwards exacted revenge for a defeat in 2015. With the victory, he became the first British UFC champion since Michael Bisping in 2016 and only the second overall.
The victory encouraged the UFC to hold a trilogy fight and its first numbered show in the United Kingdom since 2016, when Bisping faced Dan Henderson in Manchester to defend his middleweight title.
In a thrilling contest in London that saw both competitors put on impressive performances and end-to-end action, Edwards proved to be more tenacious than Usman and prevailed to earn his first title defence since defeating the Nigerian in August.
Usman praises Edwards and says, “You’ve got a great champion.”
Following the defeat, Kamaru Usman praised Edwards for his accomplishments and referred to him as “a great champion.”
Even though it was close, he said he did enough to win.
“I think I did enough to win the fight, but I knew it was close,” Usman said to BT Sport.
He had a clever strategy. We would meet again, as I always promised, and I’m not done yet. We’ll cross paths once more.
“I’ve always praised him for his achievements. He is my brother, and I have the utmost respect for him. You’ve got a great champion, London.
“The Nigerian Nightmare,” Usman, who has now dropped two straight fights, responded when asked when he plans to return to the ring: “Not too long. I will follow up with my coaches. One of those guys who can’t sit still for too long is me.
“I’ll visit my daughter for a while. You get to see us, but you have no idea what we had to give up to be here. Every time, we put it on the lines,” he continued.
Edwards makes a fight with Covington seem likely by saying, “I might travel to Miami.”
After securing the victory in outstanding style, Jamaican-born Edwards referred to Kamaru as a “great competitor” and made a fight with Colby Covington, who was sitting cage-side, seem likely.
“That man [Colby Covington] has been sitting out for two years,” he said. I might make a brief trip to Miami to see what’s happening.
Edwards said of his victory over Usman: “He didn’t get any takedowns.” I made more accurate shots. I removed his legs.
“I want to thank Kamaru for being such a fierce competitor.
“I was unable to kick him in the head. He was perfectly defended. I was attempting to set it up by kicking his legs and body.
“I knew it was going to be close, so I had to get the cleaner hits in. He didn’t hit me with many clean hits. Just a lot of pressure was on him.
Listen to the people here!
Since 2016, a British UFC champion has not successfully defended a world championship at home.
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