Leon Edwards retains welterweight title with decision victory over Kamaru Usman
By PA Sport Staff
Leon Edwards won the first defence of his world welterweight title by majority decision in his trilogy fight with Kamaru Usman at UFC 286 in London.
Edwards, who avenged his unanimous points defeat to Usman in 2015 with a stunning head-kick knockout in their second encounter to claim the title last August, landed the cleaner blows as their third fight went the distance.
Billed as the biggest mixed martial arts fight in UK history, the judges at the O2 Arena scored it 48-46, 48-46, 47-47 in Birmingham-based Edwards’ favour.
It was the first time a British UFC fighter has defended a world title in this country since Michael Bisping in 2016.
Edwards made an encouraging start, connecting with two heavy body kicks in the opening round.
The 31-year-old’s greater speed unsettled Usman, but the challenger took Edwards down briefly in round two before both fighters traded some heavy blows.
Usman grappled Edwards to the floor again early in the third and the latter was docked a point for grabbing the fence.
A similar pattern unfolded in the fourth, which was just as close, with Edwards looking to keep his distance as Usman tried to get in close.
Edwards evaded two more takedown attempts in the final round and caught Usman with an uppercut, but took a hit to the body as his title defence went down to the wire.
American-based Nigerian Usman won the title in 2019 by defeating Tyron Woodley and defended it on five occasions before his loss last summer in Salt Lake City to Edwards, who has now won his last 11 fights.