Leon Edwards had a resounding answer for critics of his Hail Mary victory last time out, defeating his nemesis Kamaru Usman by majority decision to retain his welterweight championship Saturday at UFC 286 in London.
Two judges scored it 48-46 for Edwards, while the third judge had it at 47-47.
Saturday marked the third fight between Usman and Edwards, who was less than a minute from sure defeat in their last meeting when he pulled off a shocking head-kick knockout to finish Usman at UFC 278.
It was a competitive trilogy bout in which both fighters had their moments in every round. Edwards established himself in the first with hard kicks to the body and legs, but Usman got going in Round 2, taking Edwards to the mat and landing some hard shots on the ground.
Usman struck first in the third round, working a single leg before scoring a takedown in the first minute. Edwards managed to get to his feet and moved toward the cage, but referee Herb Dean penalized Edwards a point for grabbing the fence as Usman took his back. Edwards stepped up the pace after the point deduction, hurting Usman with several kicks to the leg and body in the final two minutes of the round.
Edwards continued to work the leg kicks as the fourth round opened, causing some swelling to develop on the inside of Usman’s leg. Usman scored a takedown late in the round, but Edwards limited the damage by quickly getting back to his feet.
With the fight seemingly up for grabs in the final round, Edwards finally went to the head with his kicks and landed another big shot with his right hand. Usman tried hard to get Edwards to the canvas and got it with 90 seconds to go. But Edwards, as he did throughout the fight, quickly escaped and got the fight back to stand-up. Usman shot in again in the closing seconds of the fight, but Edwards shook him off again as the final buzzer sounded.
Edwards (21-3, 1 NC) is unbeaten in 12 straight fights. He has not lost since Usman defeated him via unanimous decision in their first fight in 2015.
Usman (20-4, 1 NC) had won 15 consecutive fights in the UFC before dropping his past two to Edwards.