Brett OkamotoESPN Staff Writer8:07 PM ET4 Minute Read
Leon Edwards extends his unbeaten streak to 12 with a win over Kamaru Usman
Leon Edwards wins his trilogy fight by majority decision against Kamaru Usman in London at UFC 286.
LONDON – Leon Edwards became the first to admit he had put on a terrible performance in his welterweight title fight against Kamaru Usman eight months ago. He had a much better performance at UFC 286 against Usman.
Edwards (21-3) recorded his first defense of the UFC’s 170-pound championship on Saturday in front of a home crowd at the O2 Arena in London, earning a majority decision on the scorecards. Two judges scored the five-round title fight 48-46 in Edwards’ favour, while a third scored a 47-47 tie.
It was a very different fight and a different Edwards than eight months ago. Edwards clearly lost to Usman (20-3) at UFC 278 when he landed a stunning headbutt that left the then-champion and pound-for-pound No. 1 contender cold.
On Saturday, Edwards was composed and energetic, and for the most part visibly leading the dance.
“I knew I could go out there and do his recordings,” Edwards said. “Even if he pushed, not much happened.”
According to UFC Stats, Edwards passed Usman 123-113 in total shots and defended 11 of his 15 takedown attempts. Even when Usman managed to drag Edwards to the ground, he failed to keep him down or create a significant amount of offense. Usman was credited with five minutes of control time in the fight, half of what he accumulated in August.
Despite this, Usman said afterwards that he felt he had won. He wasn’t arguing about the result, however, and praised Edwards, whom he defeated in a three-round non-title bout in 2015.
“I knew it was a close fight,” Usman said. “Great game plan. I always said it from the start, I knew I would see Leon again and I’m not done yet. I will see him again. I’ve always given him props for everything he could achieve. He is just like me. It’s in his blood. Much respect, London. You’ve got a great champion and a damn good guy.”
Edwards, who was born in Jamaica and now fights in Birmingham, England, really changed the complexities of the fight with his anti-wrestling. He forced Usman to expend a lot of energy on all 15 takedown attempts and his ability to get back on his feet had to discourage Usman as the fight progressed.
Edwards made a massive error in the third round when he grabbed the fence during a takedown attempt. Referee Herb Dean deemed the foul obvious enough to deduct a point, threatening to erase Edward’s early lead on the scorecards.
However, Edwards refused to let the point deduction go to his head while continuing to pepper Usman with efficient shots. He used kicks to Usman’s body and legs to slow his aggression, while occasionally performing left kicks to his head. The English crowd chanted, “Headshot, dead,” a phrase Edwards coined after his KO win.
“Obviously his coaches worked on that,” Edwards said. “I couldn’t get it over with. I built it up with body kicks and leg kicks, but fair play to him.”
Edward’s next title defense will be against former interim champion Colby Covington, UFC President Dana White said in his post-fight press conference.
Covington was in London for Saturday’s contest and immediately began challenging Edwards. Edwards accused Covington of dodging him for years on his way up the ranks of the UFC.