- Tarrian Rodgers
Leon Edwards silence critics after defeating Kamaru Usman, again
There are not many times a champion goes into a fight in his home country and is a massive underdog. That was the reality for UFC Welterweight Champion Leon Edwards on Saturday facing former champion and rival Kamaru Usman in the main event of UFC 286 in London. In the two men’s last bout it took a miracle knockout kick for Edwards to become the new champion.
Saturday Edwards left zero doubt and was able to retain his title via unanimous decision. Edwards was able to get off to a fantastic start dominating the striking exchanges. His most effective shots were kicks to the body and legs. Edwards used different tactics to set up the head kick, like the one that won him the welterweight championship in his previous meeting with Usman.
The former champ Usman tried hard to rely on his wrestling. He constantly went forward. Edwards was successful in his takedown defense. Even using the fence to grab which prevented him from being taken down. Referee Herb Dean immediately stopped the action and took a point from Edwards as the illegal move prevented Usman from scoring the takedown. Edwards nearly lost a second point in the round after landing his second low blow of the fight, which was added to a glove grab that had earned him a warning.
The penalties were one of the major storylines of this fight. However, they didn’t affect the overall decision. Edwards retained by majority decision, drawing cheers from the London crowd as the official scores of 48-46, 48-46 and 47-47 were read. After the fight Edwards was immediately challenged by former two-time title challenger Colby Covington.
UFC President Dana White already made it known that Covington will be the next challenger for the belt. “I don’t know when we’ll do it, but that’s the fight that makes sense,” White said at a post-fight news conference at The O2 Arena. “Colby came here and cut weight and did everything to be here for this fight. He deserves the fight, not to mention he’s the second or third best guy in the world.”
However, the champ Edwards didn’t seem to agree with the verdict of Covington being the next challenger. "That man sat out for like a year and a half, two years," Edwards said of Covington. "He ain't fought nobody. I might take a little trip to Miami and ... I'll see what's going on from there." The Miami reference refers to Gilbert Burns vs Jorge Masvidal at UFC 287.
As for Usman, there was some speculation the former champion could decide to retire from active competition should he fail to regain the welterweight title. Usman shot down any idea, saying he intended to make another run at the title in the near future.