By Adegboyega Adeleye
Leon Edwards retained his welterweight UFC title after defeating Kamaru Usman by majority decision at UFC 286 in London.
Edwards, who is on a 12-fight unbeaten streak in the UFC retained his title in front of his own fans after a brilliant striking display as he prevented the majority of Usman’s takedown attempts.
The 31-year-old Briton edged out former champion Kamaru Usman in their trilogy encounter with points. It was close match but Edwards landed the cleaner shots.
Judges scored the bout 48-46, 48-46, 47-47 to give Edwards a majority decision.
There was incredible noise around the electric O2 Arena in the early hours of Sunday as the raptorous crowd watched on as Leon Edwards was declared the winner.
The bout at the O2 Arena was billed as the biggest British MMA fight in history.
Edwards earned a shocking win against Usman in August where he avenged a 2015 loss to the 35-year old Nigerian. The win made him just the second British UFC champion and first since Michael Bisping in 2016.
The win therefore promoted the UFC to host a trilogy bout and its first numbered show in Britain since 2016, when Bisping defended his middleweight title against Dan Henderson in Manchester.
In what was an enthralling bout that saw both fighters produce a stellar display and end to end stuff in London, Edwards showed more determination as he edged Usman to earn his first title defence since defeating the Nigerian in August.
You’ve got a great champion’ – Usman hails Edwards
After the loss, Kamaru Usman congratulated Edwards on his accomplishments by calling him “a great champion.”
He also noted that he did enough to win but admitted it was close.
Usman told BT Sport: “I think I did enough to win the fight but I knew it was close.
“He had a great gameplan. I always said from the start we’d meet again and I’m not done. We will see each other again.
“I always gave him props for what he’s accomplished. He’s a brother like myself and great respect. London you’ve got yourself a great champion.
When asked about his plans to get back in the octagon, ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’, Usman who has now lost two successive fights said: “Not too long. I’ll get back with my coaches. I’m one of those guys, I can’t sit for too long.
“I’ll spend some time with my daughter. You guys get to watch us but you don’t know what we have to sacrifice to be here. We put it on the lines every time,” he added.
‘I might take a trip to Miami’– Edwards hints at a bout with Covington
After clinching victory in superb fashion, Jamaican-born Edwards called Kamaru a “great competitor” and also hinted at a bout with former interim welterweight champion Colby Covington, who was sat at cage-side.
He said: “That man [Colby Covington] has sat out for two years. I might take a little trip to Miami and see what’s going on there.”
On his win against Usman, Edwards said: “He didn’t get any takedowns I was landing cleaner shots. I took out his legs.
“Thanks to Kamaru for being a great competitior.
“I couldn’t get the kick around his head. He had the perfect defence. I was trying to set it up with kicks to the body and legs.
“I know it was a close fight so I knew I had to land the cleaner shots. He didn’t land many clean on me. He just had lots of pressure.
“Listen to the crowd !”
This is the time since 2016 a British UFC champion has defended a world title on home soil.
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