Leon Edwards beat Kamaru Usman via majority decision with scorecards of 48-46, 48-46 and 47-47. Edwards defended his 170lb strap for the first time and wants Jorge Masvidal next.
A tentative start saw both men feint and size each other up as the fans chanted Edwards’ famous phrase “headshot dead.” Then the fight sparked into life at the halfway point as Edwards landed a huge kick to the body that staggered Usman, prompting a clinch from the Nigerian Nightmare.
But Edwards broke free from Usman’s grasp, although referee Herb Dean warned him for grabbing his opponent’s glove. More of the same from Edwards in the closing sixty seconds as he landed a number of crunching kicks to the body – likely to set up the famous high kick that won him the title last time out. 10-9 Edwards.
In the second, the Brit measured with his lead hand from range, keeping his distance with his feet. A nasty knee rocked Usman and was once again followed up by some wrestling from the former champion.
Usman landed a big right hand and transitioned into a double leg, but Edwards made his way back to his feet quickly. Edwards then shot in with a takedown of his own but was sprawled by the Nigerian Nightmare. 10-9 Edwards.
Early in the third, Usman dropped into a high crotch and tossed the Brit to the ground. Edwards made his way to his feet but was pulled up for breaking the rules, this time for grabbing the fence. As a result, Dean took a point.
Due to the point being taken, they were stood back up to their feet but again Edwards fouled Usman with a low blow. A competitive round that could be a 9-9 with the point deduction.
In the fourth, Usman upped the tempo landing a series of good straight shots as he backed up his fierce rival against the cage. Edwards, always circling, didn’t allow himself to be a stationary target for the takedown.
The Brummie was noticeably slower with one to go but continued to land the low kick to great effect. Usman attempted three takedowns but wasn’t able to hold down his man. 10-9 Usman for pushing the pace.
In the final stanza, Edwards fired his first head kick of the fight which partially landed through Usman’s guard. A couple of big backhands made it through followed by another head kick from Edwards as Usman looked to grapple against the fence.
Non-stop pressure from Usman but most of the striking activity came from Edwards. Usman landed his fourth takedown of the fight but again Edwards made his way back to his feet – a testament to his improved wrestling skills. A lot of clinching against the cage from Usman. Edwards’ striking won him the round. 10-9 Edwards. A deserved winner.