Leon Edwards defied the odds on Saturday, March 18, when he overcame a crucial point deduction to defeat Nigerian-born American kickboxer, Kamaru Usman for the second time in three head-to-head UFC matchups.
In the UFC 286 main event, Edwards (21-3 MMA, 13-2 UFC) defeated Usman (20-3 MMA, 15-2 UFC) via majority decision (48-46, 48-46, 47-47) to retain the promotion’s welterweight title at The O2 in London. Usman was patient in Round 1 as he visibly respected Edwards’ striking. With Usman’s volume low, the Jamaican-born Brit capitalized and took control of the fight early. In Round 2, Edwards landed a big knee, perhaps his biggest strike of the fight, around the same time the crowd chanted his signature line, “Headshot, dead.” Usman was briefly on roller skates but recovered to score a takedown and land big punches on Edwards, who eventually rose back up and separated.
A massive, fight-changing moment occurred in Round 3 when Edwards was deducted a point by referee Herb Dean for a flagrant cage grab on an Usman takedown attempt. The foul was one of many for Edwards throughout the fight, who was also warned about groin strikes and a glove grab. Usman pressured as he repeatedly tried takedowns in the final round. Edwards denied each time, until Usman finally dragged him down with about 90 seconds left on the clock. Edwards worked to his feet and eventually separated with approximately one minute left. Usman shot again, much to the disdain of the London crowd. Usman continued to pressure until the final bell.
“I think I did enough to win the fight,” Usman, 35, told BT Sport after the defeat. “I’m not done.” He also showed good sportsmanship when talking about Edwards’ win. Usman said; “I knew it was a close fight. Great game plan. I’ve always said it from the start, I knew I’d see Leon again and I’m not done. I’ll see him again. “I’ve always given him props for everything he’s been able to accomplish. He’s just like me. It’s in his blood. Much respect, London. You’ve got yourself a great champion and a hell of a guy.” 2️⃣5️⃣ minutes in the books! Drop those scorecards NOW 📝 #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/zPXEkDIpEC — UFC (@ufc) March 19, 2023