Leon Edwards retained the welterweight title against Kamaru Usman at UFC 286 in London’s O2 Arena. Edwards defeated the previously dominant Usman in August but Usman won their 2015 meeting. Fans were left to guess whether Usman would out-wrestle Edwards or whether Edwards would pull off a moment of martial arts magic. Ultimately, the match proved competitive with Edwards taking the victory by majority decision.
Edwards and Usman’s latest match was their most competitive contest by far. The fighters used a variety of kicks, knees and elbows throughout, and Edwards took the lead in the first two rounds before the playing field levelled out after Round 3. Edwards seemed at risk of losing points when he was warned for holding the glove of Usman, who also complained of multiple alleged kicks to the groin. However, Edwards’ quality ultimately held up and he produced an impressive final frame at a crucial juncture to deny Usman multiple takedowns.
Justin Gaethje was the victor over Rafael Fiziev in the co-main event, winning via majority decision. Gaethje’s teammate, Usman, was unable to succeed in his fight. The event’s other main card fighters were Gunnar Nelson, who defeated Bryan Barberena via a first-round submission, and Jennifer Maia, who defeated Casey O’Neill via unanimous decision. Jake Hadley also won his fight against Malcolm Gordon in the early prelims with a first-round TKO from body punches.
London’s O2 Arena was packed and the crowd made their support clear from every roar. The fighters displayed discipline and skill throughout, with neither giving the other the dominance needed for a decisive victory. Edwards’ victory has shown that he has the composure and energy to maintain his title.