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Edwards beats Usman by majority decision to retain UFC welterweight title

Jeff Bottari / UFC / Getty

Leon Edwards had to pull off a miracle against Kamaru Usman last summer to become the UFC welterweight champion. No miracle was needed to upset him again in their trilogy bout.

Edwards defeated Usman via majority decision (48-46, 48-46, 47-47) in the UFC 286 main event to retain the welterweight title for the first time Saturday in London.

The fight was an immediate rematch from their meeting at UFC 278 last August, in which Edwards came back from down 39-37 on the scorecards to shock Usman with a head-kick knockout in the fifth round. It was a home fight for Edwards, who was born in Jamaica but moved to Birmingham, England, as a child.

Usman dominated Edwards in 2015 and was soundly beating him in the rematch before the knockout, but their third matchup was a much different story. It was quite competitive, and Edwards edged Usman in what was mostly a striking affair. He landed 120 significant strikes, and Usman connected on 87.

A lot of Edwards' success came from leg kicks and body kicks. He said in his postfight interview he was trying to set up another fight-ending high kick but couldn't find an opening.

"Clearly (Usman) and his coaches were on the defense," Edwards said. "I couldn't get the kick around. He had perfect defense."

Edwards hurt Usman with a knee in the second, and Usman tagged him later that round with a hard right hand.

Both men landed solid punches throughout the bout, but Edwards stayed a bit busier and was more precise with his hands. Usman put pressure on Edwards for a lot of the contest, but the champion used his movement to avoid many of Usman's biggest shots.

Usman scored four takedowns in the fight, but Edwards' takedown defense held up much better than it did in their first two fights. He stopped 11 attempts and got up quickly each time Usman got him down. Referee Herb Dean deducted a point from Edwards in the third round for grabbing the fence as Usman tried to drag him to the mat. That resulted in one judge scoring the fight a draw.

In his postfight interview, Usman praised Edwards for having a "great game plan." He said he's "not done" fighting and that it won't be "too long" before he returns to the Octagon. Usman added that he expects to eventually face Edwards for a fourth time.

"I've always given him props for everything he's been able to accomplish. ... Much respect," he said.

With the victory, Edwards is now riding a 12-fight unbeaten streak. The Brit hasn't lost since his first fight with Usman in 2015 and is 13-2 (1 NC) in the UFC.

Usman has now lost consecutive fights for the first time in his career. "The Nigerian Nightmare" is considered one of the best welterweights in UFC history, having successfully defended the title five times before losing to Edwards last August. He took the championship from Tyron Woodley in March 2019.

Usman won his first 15 fights in the Octagon and now sits at 15-2 in the promotion.

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