Briton Leon Edwards retained his UFC welterweight title against Nigerian Kamaru Usman on Sunday March 19 at the O2 Arena in London. He signs a first title defense while mastering against an opponent from whom he had stolen the belt of the category in August 2022.
Edwards vs. Usman, Episode 3. Like any self-respecting trilogy conclusion, it promised entertainment and did not disappoint. But the ending was probably not what we expected.
The two fighters had to decide above all once and for all, after having each taken the upper hand one over the other. First in 2015, where Usman had dominated the Briton thanks to his struggle. Then in August 2022, where the Nigerian had suffered a spectacular disappointment: despite total domination against Edwards and a victory almost acquired, the native of Auchi was surprised in the last round by a high-kick devastating hit head on. The Briton stole the UFC welterweight championship belt from him and ended his streak of 14 consecutive victories. Hard blow.
? THE EARTHQUAKE, THE THUNDER!!!!!
⚡️ EDWARDS KO USMAN WITH AN INCREDIBLE KICK! IT’S HISTORIC. Stupor in Utah.
? It’s remarkable, EDWARS IS THE NEW WELTERS CHAMPION! #UFC278 pic.twitter.com/Dv4ccMR59g
— RMC Sport Combat (@RMCSportCombat) August 21, 2022
” I don’t have much more to prove, declared the Nigerian in a pre-fight press conference. This fight will be special too ! Why am I so relaxed ? I have confidence in myself and I do whatever it takes in the gym, in training. “In a white-hot O2 Arena in London and won over to the cause of Edwards, he nevertheless had to demonstrate his ability to recover from his bitter failure during this UFC 286.
The least we can say is that the specter of the knockout still hovered over Kamaru Usman’s head. Too much, certainly, since from the first round the Nigerian seemed more withdrawn than usual against a confident Leon Edwards at home. Above all, Usman took too long to bring the Briton to the ground, yet his weak point. Faced with reach and power in striking of his adversary, who delivered some good low kick while staying at a distance, Usman appeared helpless. He even faltered at the end of the first round on a huge blow from the defending champion.
Edwards’ Iron Defense
After a timid start to the fight, Usman put more emphasis on the fight as he attempted to bring his opponent to the ground. Without success, since Edwards systematically got out of the grip of the Nigerian thanks to a very good defense which left him without solutions. Annoyed, giving the impression of gradually getting out of his fight, Kamaru Usman continued to suffer the powerful blows of the Briton on the lower body without managing to retaliate.
Following several unsuccessful attempts, he finally managed to regain the measure of the fight during the 3rd round by putting pressure on Edwards during a grip on the ground, who then grabbed the grid of the cage without thinking. A defensive gesture prohibited immediately sanctioned by the referee. The fight then became much more indecisive.
The British’s undermining work started to pay off in the last two rounds. Showing little response to get the upper hand on his opponent, Usman seemed helpless against his opponent’s blows and was unable to thwart his impeccable defense on the ground phases. While he had been totally dominated during their previous confrontation, only winning the belt with a bang in the last seconds, Leon Edwards this time demonstrated the full extent of his progress and proved that he is now the undisputed king of its class.