Britain’s Leon Edwards retained his welterweight title by beating Kamaru Usman via majority decision at the O2 Arena in London.
The victory over Usman was Edwards’ first defence of the belt and solidified his status as the best welterweight on the planet.
Edwards, who took the belt from Usman back in August with a sublime head kick knockout, was the quicker, more accurate striker throughout, and deserved the win in front of home support.
Usman struggled to execute his gameplan against the sharpshooting Edwards, who defended the majority of the Nigerian’s takedown attempts. When Usman did get a successful takedown, it didn’t take Edwards long to rise back to his feet.
As Usman tried to pressure Edwards back towards the cage, Edwards used his smart footwork to evade Usman’s advances and was effective in nullifying the wrestling of the former champion.
The striking of Edwards caused problems for Usman all evening. Leon had plenty of success with kicks to the legs and body and landed some heavy knees and elbows when breaking from the clinch.
Ultimately though this was a close, technical battle between the two best fighters in their division. Usman showed heart and never stopped coming forward, landing the jab and some powerful straight punches.
In the third round, Edwards was deducted a point for grabbing the fence as Usman attempted a takedown, but in the end it wasn’t enough to swing the fight in Usman’s favour and Edwards took the majority decision 48-46 on two scorecards, another judge scoring it a 47-47 draw.
Towards the end of the fight Edwards visibly began to tire, but the buoyant crowd got behind their man to give him the lift he needed. He responded to the incredible support and finished strongly.
Edwards’ nickname ‘Rocky’ has never been more fitting. His story is a magical one of resilience, bravery, tragedy, indomitable spirit and redemption – a story that could have been plucked straight from a blockbuster film.
This is no film though. Leon Edwards has turned his dreams into reality. He has always known what is he capable of, and now the entire world knows it too.
“I took the longest road to get here. I’ve earned my respect the hard way. No one gave me nothing. It makes this even more satisfying for me, my team, the UK and mixed martial arts,” said Edwards after the fight.
It was only four years ago that Edwards was booed in front of his home fans. On Saturday, he was regarded as a hero by those in attendance in the very same arena. The inspiring story of arguably the greatest British mixed martial artist in history continues.