Britain’s Leon Edwards emerged victorious after a grueling five-round battle with Kamaru Usman to retain the welterweight title, picking up a majority decision win on the judges’ scorecards at UFC 286 in London.
Edwards beat Usman in dramatic fashion when the two met in Salt Lake City in August last year, knocking out the Nigerian with a stunning fifth-round headbutt to claim the title, but Usman quickly earned a rematch.
This time, it was set to be a home fight for Edwards, and the O2 Stadium in London gave him a hero’s welcome as he entered the Octagon on Saturday night.
The crowd chanted his nickname “Rocky” as he circled his opponent in the first round, catching shots and landing heavy body kicks near the end of the frame.
Known for his impressive wrestling skills, Osman knocked Edwards to the mat twice midway through the second round, but each time the Jamaican-born Brit managed to scramble to his feet.
Osman put his opponent down again early in the third round, and referee Herb Dean deducted a point from Edwards for grabbing the fence as he attempted a comeback.
With both fighters tired, the fourth round turned into an intimate affair as Usman pressed on and Edwards continued attacking the body with kicks, hoping to set up the same headbutt that ended their previous encounter.
Edwards opened that accurate kick twice early in the final round but this time Osman emerged unscathed. Undeterred, Edwards continued to mix his body shots with some vicious uppercuts and stellar defensive wrestling to finally blunt his opponent.
In the co-main event, American Justin Gaethje scored a majority decision win over fellow Kazakh lightweight Rafael Fiziev after a thrilling three-round display of high-level striking from both men.
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