UFC: Edwards outpoints Usman to retain welterweight belt

Britain’s Leon Edwards emerged victorious after a gruelling five-round battle on Saturday with Nigeria’s Kamaru Usman to retain his welterweight title at UFC 286.

He had beaten Usman in sensational fashion when the two met in Salt Lake City in August last year.

The Briton knocked the Nigerian out with a spectacular fifth-round head kick to claim the title, but Usman was quickly granted a re-match.

This time, the fight was to be on home soil for Edwards, and London’s O2 Arena gave him a hero’s welcome as he entered the octagon.

The crowd chanted his “Rocky” nickname as he circled his opponent in first round, picking his shots and landing heavy body kicks towards the end of the frame.

Famed for his superb wrestling skills, Usman got Edwards to the mat twice midway through the second round.

But, each time the Jamaican-born Briton managed to scramble back to his feet.

Usman had his opponent on the ground again early in the third round, and referee Herb Dean deducted a point from Edwards for grabbing the fence as he tried to get back up.

With the two fighters tiring, the fourth round turned into a cagey affair as Usman pressured and Edwards continued to attack the body with kicks.

He was hoping to set up the same head kick finish that finished their previous encounter.

Edwards uncorked that exact kick twice early in the final round but this time Usman emerged unscathed.

Undeterred, Edwards continued mixing his body shots with some vicious uppercuts and brilliant defensive wrestling to ultimately thwart his opponent.

In the co-main event, American Justin Gaethje scored a majority decision victory over fellow lightweight Rafael Fiziev of Kazakhstan after a thrilling three-round display of high-level striking from both men.

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