Leon Edwards has defeated Kamaru Usman to retain his welterweight title at UFC 286 in London.
Edwards was looking to make the first defence of his welterweight title since winning it against Usman with a last-gasp knockout last August.
The London crowd flooded out The O2 arena with chants of “Headshot, dead” in support of the home fighter as the trilogy bout got underway.
Both men were tentative in the opening round but it was Edwards who landed heavy first, hurting Usman with a body kick but he did well to recover moments later. Edwards was putting together his combinations well, but the Brit was warned by referee Herb Dean to not grab the inside of Usman’s glove.
Edwards put together a good combination that staggered Usman but ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ recovered by stunning Edwards with a jab before taking him down for the first time. The back and forth in the second stanza continued as Edwards got back to his feet and landed a hard left hand. Usman was finding his rhythm as he changed levels and secured a good single-leg takedown as the third round got underway.
Referee Herb Dean deducted a point from Edwards as he illegally grabbed the fence whilst Usman was taking him down. Edwards landed a good one down the middle whilst Usman continued to find success with his jab. As the fight went into the championship rounds, Edwards dropped Usman with a leg kick but the Nigerian-American sprung up to his feet straight away.
The fight was neck-and-neck heading into the final round and Edwards attempted his signature head kick, but Usman defended it this time around. Edwards was being encouraged by huge cheers as he continued to put together some crisp combinations. Usman was relentless in his takedown attempts but Edwards defended well and kept the fight standing and saw out the contest before the judges gave him the nod by scores of 48-46, 48, 46 and 47-47.
Edwards said after the fight: “He didn’t get any takedowns and I was defending multiple of his shots. I want to say thank you to him, he’s been a great competitor. I was trying to get the head kick, but fair play to him because he had perfect defence.”
Usman added: “I think I did enough to win but it was close, I’m not done and I’ll see him again. He put on a hell of a gameplan. I’m going to get back to my coaches because I can’t sit out for too long, I start getting antsy.”