Leon Edwards Overcomes Point Deduction, Defends Welterweight Title Against Kamaru Usman

Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman, UFC 286 weigh-in ceremony Photo: Jamie Theodosi/Cageside Press

Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman met for the third and presumably final time on Saturday to wrap up a hugely entertaining UFC 286 card at the O2 Arena in London, England .

Their career series is 1-1, with Usman in a three-round tie in his first match in 2015. Years later, Edwards wrestled victory from the clutches of defeat as he headed off Usman in the final minute of the fifth round to claim the welterweight gold medal.

A championship title, plus bragging rights, awaits the winner of Saturday’s rubber race. For Usman, who has 2-0 wins over Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington among others, Edwards represents something new – ‘Rocky’, live up to him Nickname, the only one to beat him inside the UFC Octagon.

Challenger Usman picked up the pace early on, pushing Edwards to the brink, although there were few significant offenses in the first half of the round. Edwards kicked low and was occasionally inserted by Usman. In the second half, Edwards stayed on the outside, but quickly kicked Usman down! The former champion forced himself to his feet and took another kick, but he kept going.

After the two scuffled, Usman forced Edwards into the fence, and referee Herb Dean stopped the action, warned Edwards that he had hooked Usman’s glove, and threatened that if it happened again Points were deducted.

The second round got off to a bad start as Usman sprinted across the cage before the referee signaled them to start — though the seconds continued to tick away as Dean resumed his motions. Usman then took a low blow and chose not to spend any recovery time.

Back on track, Edwards kicked a leg. Another inside leg kick followed. Edwards followed up with a combo, adding a knee that seemed to shake Usman a little. But Usman countered with a solid right hand and hit the ball midway, and Edwards got up quickly while taking the punch. He reversed and then shot down, forcing Usman to stretch his limbs and defend with a guillotine. Usman rounded the corner and nearly backed away, but Edwards made his escape as tensions mounted.

Usman took the lead to block a high shot. However, Edwards would drop a ball to the body in the final minute of the picture. From then on, the last minute turned into a chess game of feints and angles.

Early in the third inning, Edwards hit home plate with multiple leg kicks from the inside out. Usman fired a shot ready to knock down his opponent, grabbed a leg, and swung Edwards to finish the shot. Usman had a full four minutes to work as Edwards locked down the half-back. The champion climbs up but grabs the fence – points are deducted, much to the displeasure of the audience, let alone the champion. Back in the game, Edwards fouled again in this round, another low ball, although no points were deducted for this foul.

Shortly after, Usman attempted to complain about another kick, although the referee ruled it was legal. The former champion then put pressure on Edwards and the Englishman was kicked in the leg. After some scuffling at the end of the festival, they headed to the championship game.

In the fourth round, Edwards knocked Usman down again with a kick that was off balance but still impressive. Usman scrambled, leading to a furious exchange before they got back to center. Usman also has a leg injury, but so far, it hasn’t seriously affected his action. Edwards found a home for his jab and Usman returned a stick to him. The “Nigerian Nightmare” then fired to knock down his opponent, but was unable to convert, Edwards injured his knee but got back on his feet.

Another knockdown attempt by Usman kept him from locking his hands together. He switched to a single, but the champion broke free.

Kamaru Usman found himself blocking a header early in the fifth chukker, and it was a puzzling struggle to score, especially with the points deducted. Usman then tied Edwards to the cage; “Rocky” spun out and landed an uppercut. A head kick followed, but Usman handled it. Edwards ripped through the body with an uppercut and turned up the heat, landing several shots. Usman pushed on, changing levels, but Edwards showed improved knockout defense in the long fight, knocking it back with wrist control.

Back in the distance, Edwards starts to jab. He kicked his leg. Edwards’ knee is in the middle. Usman responded with another knockout attempt that was stuffed. Edwards kicked the corpse. But another knockdown attempt before 90 seconds landed for Usman. However, Edwards just backed up, causing the crowd to erupt. Another takedown attempt followed with less than a minute remaining. With 20 seconds left, Edwards closed the fence; Usman rallied for another knockout attempt, which was repulsed but completed the round – both raised their arms before the horn. victory.

With penalty points looming, the referee’s scorecard is anyone’s guess. In the end, one referee tied the fight — but both referees backed Edwards, who successfully defended his title and ended his fight with Kamaru Usman. What happens next could be interesting, as Colby Covington is still in the game — and Edwards’ other opponent, Jorge Masvidal, is next Moon will fight Gilbert Burns.

Official result: Leon Edwards def. Kamaru Usman by majority vote (48-46, 48-46, 47-47)

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