Leon Edwards clung on to his welterweight title with a second successive win over Kamaru Usman on Saturday night at the 02 Arena in London.
Having won the belt with a stunning final-round head kick last August, Edwards needed the judges at UFC 286 in London, but ran out a deserved winner after five rounds. Two judges scored the fight in Edwards’ favour by two rounds (48-46), while the third scored the bout a draw (47-47).
“He didn’t get any takedowns and I was defending multiple of his shots,” said the winner. “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.”
Edwards connected with his left hand early in the opening round as Usman made a patient start to the trilogy, slowly increasing the pressure. But Edwards landed successive body kicks before successfully defending a takedown attempt against the cage as he did enough to edge the first session.
And he made a sharp start to the second as he targeted Usman’s legs before he wobbled his challenger momentarily with a knee to his head.
Usman responded with a right hand, however, and took Edwards to the canvas for the first time.
But it was the Brit whose striking was sharper through the opening 10 minutes.
Usman continued to work his way into the fight with another takedown early in the third round. And he was given a shot in the arm when Edwards was deducted a point for holding the cage to potentially swing the fight in his favour.
Edwards continued to show impressive takedown defence in round four, while he chipped away at his challengers legs. It was all to play for in the final five minutes as Edwards finally threw a head kick in the opening seconds only for Usman to block. The Brit then switched to Usman’s body as he looked to finish the stronger.
Usman managed a final takedown with 90 seconds remaining but Edwards simply bounced back to his feet and saw out the contest before the judges gave him the nod by scores of 48-46, 48, 46 and 47-47.