Leon Edwards defends his title with a hard-fought majority decision to beat Kamaru Usman in the UFC 286 main event


Leon Edwards proved his first win over Kamaru Usman was no fluke after securing a majority decision in their trilogy to end UFC 286 on Saturday.

There were no last-minute heroics this time as Edwards put in a strong performance throughout all five rounds, including a huge arsenal of kicks that gave Usman constant problems throughout the night. While Usman definitely had his moments, including multiple takedowns, he just wasn’t able to muster enough momentum to sway the judges in his favor.

When the fight ended, the scores were 48-46, 48-46, and 47-47, with Edwards receiving the nod, although a judge ruled the fight a tie. This secures Edward’s first title defense and extends his unbeaten streak to 12 straight fights.

“I was landing cleaner shots, I took his legs away,” Edwards said when asked if he felt he had done enough to get the win. “It has been the toughest fight to date and I want to thank you for being a great competitor.

“Clearly he and his coaches worked for the defence [the head kicks]. Fair play for him who will be disciplined throughout the fight. I knew it was a close fight.”

Edwards exuded plenty of confidence as he looked quick and determined with his punches, including a nasty body kick that ricocheted off Usman’s midsection. While Usman tried to close the gap, Edwards did a great job keeping him at bay with quick hands and a variety of kicks down the middle.

Edwards also started kicking the legs, which also gave Usman some headaches as he tried to find a way in. As the welterweights traded punches, Edwards hit Usman with a huge knee that seemed to wobble the former champion.

Just as quickly as he was injured, Usman came back and did the same to Edwards with a massive punch followed by a takedown that allowed him to get back in the fight. Still, Edwards bounced back quickly and came right back at him with another combination that caught Usman in the chin.

As the third round began, Usman scored an early takedown, but as Edwards tried to work his way back up, he grabbed the fence in a monstrous attempt to prevent “The Nigerian Nightmare” from dragging him back down. This forced referee Herb Dean to stop the fight and take a point away from Edwards for the apparent foul.

While Usman was still trying to push Edwards backwards toward the cage, “Rocky” attempted to kick him away. Edwards’ kicking game was definitely his best weapon, but Usman persisted as his punches kept coming out on top.

As time ticked by in the championship rounds, Usman constantly tried to get back to his wrestling, but Edwards put up an incredible takedown defense the entire time. Edwards also began returning to his headbutt as he attempted to repeat the finish from their rematch last August.

Even when Usman pulled off a late takedown, Edwards quickly shrugged him off and kept throwing kicks to ensure he would exit the O2 Arena with the welterweight title still wrapped around his waist.

Although it obviously wasn’t the result he wanted, Usman accepted defeat and vowed to come back in the future to fight for the title again.

“I think I did enough to win the fight, but I knew it was a close fight,” Usman said. “Great game plan. I always said it from the start, I knew I would see Leon again. I’m not ready. i will see him again I always gave him props for whatever he could accomplish. Much respect.

“I will come back with my coaches. I can’t sit for long. Much respect to the fighters, we always risk it for you.”

With a second win over Usman, Edwards has now transcended that rivalry and is looking to advance at welterweight. After that, Edwards was asked what’s next, with two-time title challenger Colby Covington sitting in the front row, but he wasted no time looking past the always outspoken welterweight, instead turning his attention to Gilbert Burns vs. Jorge Masvidal UFC 287.

“This man served about a year and a half or two. He didn’t fight anyone,” Edwards said of Covington. “Maybe I’ll take a little trip to Miami [to UFC 287] and see what these two welterweights are doing and see what’s going on there.

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