UFC

Edwards wins Usman trilogy bout to retain UFC welterweight title

By Sports Desk March 18, 2023

Leon Edwards successfully defended the welterweight title as he claimed a majority decision victory in a pulsating rematch with Kamaru Usman at UFC 286.

Edwards had stunned Usman with a fifth-round knockout win at UFC 278 last August, with Saturday's clash marking their third meeting. Usman won the first in 2015.

His first title defence at London's O2 Arena was extremely close, but Edwards displayed the greater energy and precision to delight the home crowd and retain the title.

"He didn't get any takedowns I was landing cleaner shots. I took out his legs," Edwards told BT Sport. "Thanks to Kamaru for being a great competitor.

"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."

Jorge Masvidal and Gilbert Burns will face off next month in a bout in Miami that could decide Edwards' next challenger.

"I might take a little trip to Miami and see what's going on there," added Edwards.

Usman, meanwhile, was gracious in defeat but indicated he would eventually like another shot at Edwards.

"I think I did enough to win the fight but I knew it was close," he said.

"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."

Earlier, Justin Gaethje won a thrilling lightweight contest with Rafael Fiziev, leaving the Azerbaijani's face bloodied en route to victory by majority decision.

Gaethje ended Fiziev's six-fight winning streak and said afterwards: "These guys are young, hungry, that's a dangerous guy right there. But I ain't going to be around much longer. 

"I'm trying one more run at the title."

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