LEON EDWARDS is still the UFC Welterweight Champion after a dominant performance in his trilogy fight with Kamaru Usman.
The Birmingham pride renewed their rivalry with Nigerian Nightmare in Saturday night’s UFC 286 main event at London’s O2 Arena.
Edwards ripped the belt from Usman’s clutches with a stunning headbutt KO in their rematch last August to become Britain’s second UFC champion.
And his reign continued thanks to a dominant performance against the former pound-for-pound king of the UFC that earned him a majority decision win.
Nigerian Nightmare Usman walked out to a chorus of boos from the noisy O2 crowd, but he looked confident.
Edwards, however, was stoic as his music blared through the speakers and he strode to the cage with a nation cheering behind him.
Usman immediately captured the center of the octagon and had to deal with feint after feint from the champion, who opened with a low kick.
“Headshot dead” chants echoed around the arena at the start of the round to remind Usman of the fate he suffered just seven months ago.
This was followed by renditions of “Rocky, Rocky, Rocky” as both men continued to grope each other.
But as soon as they ended, Usman found a home for his right hand, to which Edwards responded seconds later with a left.
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Usman tried to apply heavy pressure, pinning Edwards against the cage to force a takedown.
But the champion did well to stay away from the fence. A nice knee down the middle from a clinch reminded Usman of the nasty weapons Edwards possessed.
A thud with the body nearly knocked Usman down, forcing him to close the distance. Usman finished the round in the champion’s face, making sure he was staring at him after the horn sounded.
Usman received a chorus of boos early in the second set for trying to close the distance before referee Herb Dean gave the okay.
And he was bombarded with a new sentence after complaining about a low blow, although his complaint was valid.
Edwards’ kicks to the legs and body continued to hit the spot, staggering the challenger’s lead leg.
Usman was convulsed soon after by a knee and a blistering left hand.
But he survived and landed a big right hand that went into a takedown.
Edwards was briefly knocked against the fence but managed to get to his feet.
But he foolishly put himself back into a bad position with a takedown, though he managed to get back up and land a butt straight to the left.
Usman changed tact shortly after, opting for leg and tee kicks and a jab to the brummie’s body.
Both men landed hard with their right and left hands respectively as the horn signaled the end of the second, causing them to clamp each other’s jaws down.
Usman’s front leg was hit again early in the third when Edwards found a perfect spot on the inside of that thigh.
A high crotch takedown by Usman established the fight and saw Edwards seemingly drained.
But he managed to get back on his feet, although he soon received a point deduction for a fence hold.
They intervened again in the middle, although the break in action was due to an Edwards foul.
A stiff thrust from Usman reminded Edwards of the power the former femdom champion possessed.
Hungry challenger Usman kept up the pressure but had to nurse his lower regions after an accidental low blow.
Edwards responded with a beautiful knee and left hook combo that shook Usman’s dome.
Usman wanted to break the round with a takedown but couldn’t establish the fight.
The boisterous Brits in attendance tried to lift Edwards’ spirits early in the fourth with more chanting of “Rocky, Rocky, Rocky”.
A stinging lowkick echoed through the arena and clearly annoyed Usman, who began to open his hands.
There were audible gasps as the Nigerian landed a good two-punch combination, which was met with chants of “headshot dead.”
And the arena came alive as Edwards absorbed a body kick but knocked out Usman’s supporting leg.
This led to another takedown attempt from the former champion, but Edwards was smart enough to defend it.
Usman tried his best to finish the fight with one minute left in the round but couldn’t. And he ate a knee and a big left hook on the ensuing break.
The desperate challenger fired again with 40 seconds left in the round but again found his attempt to ground Edwards denied.
The crowd was on their feet and went mad early in the fifth as the heated rivals touched gloves.
Usman tried to close the distance again and faked for a takedown.
But he found himself eating a clean headbutt in the skull despite eating it a million times better than last August.
Edwards gained confidence after stuffing another takedown, landing two things straight to the left before landing another headbutt.
But it wasn’t long before Usman pinned him against the fence and tried to work for a takedown. Edwards defended beautifully and managed to circle himself out and get back to work with an outside punch.
Usman ate a big knee after another takedown, but that didn’t stop him from shooting again.
However, Edwards stuffed it and proceeded to knock Usman’s head back with a stiff straight left.
The champion barely had to exert himself to get back on his feet with just over a minute to go and was greeted by the biggest cheer of the night.
A distraught Usman managed to initiate another clinch as more Pro Edwards chants rang out.
Usman pursued the target at full power in the dying embers of the round, unleashing a wild vortex. But Edwards was able to survive and make it onto the judges’ scorecards.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/7665842/ufc-286-results-leon-edwards-kamaru-usman-o2/ UFC 286 Results: Leon Edwards retains the welterweight title with a sparkling win over Kamaru Usman at the O2 Arena