Leon Edwards Defeats Kamaru Usman at UFC 286 O2 Arena to Retain WW Title
Leon Edwards is still the UFC Welterweight Champion after a crushing trilogy fight with Kamaru Usman.
The Pride of Birmingham renewed their rivalry with the Nigerian Nightmare in the main event on Saturday night. UFC 286 at the O2 Arena in London.
Edwards Tore the belt from Usman’s clutch Stunning head kick KO in rematch Last August, he became Britain’s second UFC champion.
And his reign continued thanks to a dominant display against the UFC’s former pound-for-pound champion, who won by majority vote.
An overjoyed Edwards said in the post-match interview:
“I want to thank him. He was a great competitor. I was aiming for a head kick and he defended perfectly so it was fair.
Usman, Africa’s first UFC champion, walked out to a chorus of boos from the raucous O2 crowd, but he looked confident.
But Edwards was stoic, striding to the cage as his music blared through the speakers and the whole country cheered behind him.
Usman quickly took the center of the octagon and had to deal with feint after feint from the champion who opened with a low kick.
Early in the round, chants of “headshot dead” rang out throughout the arena, reminding Usman of the fate he suffered just seven months earlier.
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A performance of “Rocky, Rocky, Rocky” followed, and the two men continued to feel for each other.
But as soon as the match was over, Usman found right-hand home and Edwards responded seconds later with his left hand.
Usman applied a lot of pressure, pushing Edwards into the cage and trying to force a takedown.
But the champion stayed off the fence nicely. With Nice’s mid-range shot following the clinch, Usman recalled the nasty weapon Edwards had.
A craggy body kick nearly knocked Usman down, closing the distance. Usman finished the round facing the champion, making sure to keep an eye on him after the horn blew.
Usman received a chorus of boos at the start of the second as he tried to close the distance before referee Herb Dean gave the OK.
And while his complaints were valid, he came under fire on a fresh set after suing for low blows.
Kicks to the feet and body of Edwards kept the point and staggered the Challenger’s lead leg.
Usman was immediately shaken to the knee and found the follow-up’s left hand blistered.
However, he survived and landed a large right hand which he used to transition into a takedown.
Edwards briefly hit a fence, but managed to get back up.
However, he foolishly put himself back in a bad spot with a takedown, tried, but managed to get up and land a piston straight to the left.
Usman quickly changed tactics, opting to throw legs and tip kicks, as well as jabs to Brummie’s body.
When the horn came to signal the end of the stanza, both men strongly landed their right and left hands respectively, after which they lowered their chins to each other.
Usman’s lead leg was hit again early in the third as Edwards found the perfect spot on this inner thigh.
A high-crotch takedown from Usman turned the fight upside down and seemed to deflate Edwards.
However, he soon found himself penalized for a fence grab, but managed to get back on his feet.
They re-engaged midway through, even though the pause in action was a foul on Edwards.
Usman’s stiff jab reminded Edwards of the power of the former dominant champion.
Usman, a hungry challenger, kept the pressure on but found himself nursing his bottom after an accidental low blow.
Edwards responded with a beautiful knee and left hook combo that rocked Usman’s dome.
Usman tried to interrupt the round with a takedown, but was unable to stop the fight.
The boisterous Brits in attendance tried to lift Edwards’ spirits at the start of the fourth, increasing chants of “Rocky, Rocky, Rocky”.
A stabbing low kick echoed throughout the arena, clearly annoyed by Usman, who began to open his hands.
A gasp was heard when the Nigerian-American landed an excellent two-punch combo.
And the arena came to life when Edwards absorbed a body kick and kicked off Usman’s standing leg.
It prompted another takedown attempt from the former champion, but Edwards knew enough to defend it.
Usman tried his best to end the fight with a minute left in the round, but was unable to. And he ate his knee and a big left hook on the ensuing break.
The desperate challenger had another shot with 40 seconds left in the round only to find that his efforts to put Edwards on the ground were again denied.
The crowd rose to their feet and went crazy at the start of the fifth when the hot rival touched the glove.
Usman tried to close the distance again, using a feint for a takedown.
But even though he was eating a million times better than he was last August, he found himself eating a clean head kick to the skull.
Edwards gained confidence after stuffing another takedown, landing two sticks straight left before landing another snap head kick.
But soon after, Usman slammed into the fence for a takedown. Edwards defended admirably and was able to get back to work with a strike from the outside.
Usman ate a big knee following another takedown, but that didn’t stop him from shooting again.
However, Edwards packed it and snapped back Usman’s head with a stiff left straight.
The champion had to dig deep to get back on his feet with just over a minute left and was greeted by the loudest cheers of the night.
A desperate Usman was able to launch another clinch when the pro-Edwards chant ran out.
Usman fully pursued the finish in the embers of the round, unleashing a fiery upset and winning. However, Edwards survived and was able to make it to the judges’ scorecards.
After Edwards’ first title defense was in the books, Usman cut a dejected appearance, but vowed to keep fighting.
He said: “I think I did enough to win, but it was a close match. I’m not done yet. I’ll see him again.”
“He made a hell of a game plan. He’s going to go back to coaching because he can’t sit around for too long. I’m starting to get annoyed.”