Leon Edwards defended his welterweight title with a hard-fought points victory over Kamaru Usman at UFC 286 in London.
In his homecoming title defense at the O2 Arena, the Birmingham fighter went the distance with the former champion and sealed a majority decision on the judges’ scorecards.
Edwards shocked the world with his stunning KO victory over The Nigerian Nightmare last August when he scored a devastating last-minute header after missing the scorecards to win the title.
It was Usman’s first defeat in nearly a decade after reigning as pound-for-pound best for four years for £170 and coming to the capital determined to reclaim what he believes is his rightful being.
But Edwards underlined his status as the new welterweight king with a championship performance on Saturday night.
In a tense opening round, a focused and calm Edwards landed the first shot of real importance and broke through with a searing leg kick that gave Usman a little nod.
Both men got into the middle of a hot second lap with Edwards speed advantage and saw him enjoy the better changes.
Usman appeared to score with an early takedown in the third, with Edwards finding a way out. Referee Herb Dean, however, deducted a point for the champion for holding on to the cage to allow him to escape.
There was another brief interruption when Usman was accidentally shot below the belt.
In a thrilling final round, Edwards scored a similar kick to Usman six months earlier, as the challenger held firm this time.
Edwards continued to land those chopping leg kicks as he attempted the big finish as both men kept up the pace – with the roof of the O2 Arena as Edwards’ name was declared the winner.
In the main support act, Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev shared a grueling, easy battle, with the American taking a majority decision after leaving his opponent a bloody mess in the third and final round.
Marin Vettori opened the main card with a controversial unanimous win over Roman Dolidze, a decision that came around 02.
Jennifer Maia defeated Casey O’Neil in her flyweight bout and also secured a scorecard win as the Australian suffered her first career loss.
Everyone’s favorite Gunnar Nelson, meanwhile, got the job done in the first round, sending Barbrena through an armbar.
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