Leon Edwards takes his game to the next level with an impressive win over Kamaru Usman

Welterweight champion Leon Edwards erased any doubts about his place at the top of the sport by defeating former champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 286 on Saturday. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

On the night in 2019, while scoring an impressive win over Gunnar Nelson, a fighter whose style was completely wrong for him, Leon Edwards stole the moment as Jorge Masvidal walked away from an interview and beat Edwards with a combination that he “a three piece and a soda.”

The video went viral, helped make Masvidal a bigger star, and eventually led to him having to fight Nate Diaz for the so-called BMF title at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Edwards got lost in the confusion. With so many people around, he couldn’t fight back. Masvidal punched him and then spoke to him during an interview with ESPN’s Laura Sanko.

Edwards had just defeated Nelson, a highly regarded submission ace, but most of the post-fight talk about him focused on Masvidal breaking his chin. Edwards had to overcome so much in his young life, including murdering his father when he was only 14 and living on the streets of Jamaica when drugs and violence were rampant.

Things seemed to go against him everywhere except in the cage where he only won. He had to take a two-year break due to injuries and the pandemic, and then another 14 months on the sidelines after his return.

But now, after defeating Kamaru Usman by majority decision in Saturday’s main event of UFC 286 at the O2 Arena in London, England, the skeptics have nothing to say. The doubters, if they still exist, are willfully ignorant.

This is a guy who hasn’t lost since dropping a decision against Usman in 2015. He has since gone on to 11 straight wins and cemented his place as MMA’s top welterweight with two wins over Usman in a seven-month span.

He headlined a card in his adopted home of England and not only sold out with 17,588 fans in attendance, he also set a goal-scoring record for the O2. The $8.6 million gate was four times better than any UFC show in England before it, said UFC President Dana White.

The judges scored twice 48-46 and Edwards 47-47, giving him a majority decision, seven months after Usman’s headbutt, which was heard around the world, in the closing seconds of UFC 278 on Aug. 20 in Salt Lake City had beaten cold.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 18: (LR) Leon Edwards of Jamaica beats Kamaru Usman of Nigeria in the UFC Welterweight Championship bout during the UFC 286 event at The O2 Arena on March 18, 2023 in London, England.  (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Leon Edwards’ punch, including his kicks to the legs and body of Kamaru Usman, was a mystery the former champion never really solved in their fight at UFC 286 in London, England on Saturday. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Usman was still a heavy favorite in the rematch but Edwards brought out the stars and got the job done with a virtuoso display. Without a point deduction for grabbing the cage, Edwards would have won four of the five rounds on two maps and three of the five on the other.

It was finally his moment as he was greeted like a victorious hero in a cage by the adoring home fans. And during the fight, fans chanted “Head Kick! Head Kick! Head Kick” and urged him to finish it in style again.

It overwhelmed Edwards afterwards as he spoke of his moment in the sun.

“It meant the world to me,” Edwards said. “To be able to overcome so much in my career, I took the hardest road to get here. I think you all know this, but I took the longest road to get here. Finally being able to earn my respect the hard way, knowing that nobody gave me anything is even more satisfying for me and my team.”

He’s clearly one of the best fighters in the sport right now and there’s no denying that. Perhaps there was a fight after Usman’s headkick KO, considering Usman had dominated for much of that match. On Saturday, however, Edwards ended that argument convincingly.

He wrecked Usman’s wrestling – Usman only landed four out of 15 takedown attempts and did little with them – and Edwards connected on a staggering 74% of his significant strikes. Usman was only in the fight in the fifth round because he is one of the greats who has an insatiable desire to win. Many of the rounds were close but Edwards proved he was the better fighter from start to finish.

The only downer of the day from Edward’s point of view came when he followed White at the post-fight press conference. White told the media that Colby Covington would get the next title shot. That didn’t sit well with Edwards, who pointed out that Covington hasn’t fought since defeating Masvidal on March 5, 2022 in Las Vegas.

Edwards wanted to get his hands on Masvidal, not because Masvidal deserved a shot, but because of that “threesome and a lemonade” of 2019.

“I just don’t like him,” Edwards said of Masvidal. “I think he’s weird. … The only reason I would give him a title shot is because I don’t like him. …It’s an easy fight for me. … He’s just a weird weirdo.”

Edwards has proven he is the champion of a champion. He has beaten one of the best ever to do it twice in a row and there has been little dispute over the outcome of either.

For those still doubting Edwards, remember this says far more about her than it ever could about Leon Edwards himself.

Source : sports.yahoo.com

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