MMA: Britain's Leon Edwards resists Nigeria's Kamaru Usman and retains his belt

Britain's Leon Edwards retained his UFC welterweight championship belt against Nigeria's Kamaru Usman at the O2 Arena in London on March 19, 2023. © Action Images via Reuters / PETER CZIBORRA

Text by: Valentin Berg Follow

3 min

Britain's Leon Edwards retained his UFC welterweight title against Nigeria's Kamaru Usman on Sunday, March 19 at the O2 Arena in London. He signed a first title defense while in control against an opponent from whom he had stolen the belt of the category in August 2022.


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Edwards vs. Usman, episode 3. Like any self-respecting trilogy conclusion, it promised spectacle and did not disappoint. But the outcome was probably not what we expected.

The two fighters had to decide once and for all, after each having gained the upper hand over each other. First in 2015, when Usman dominated the Briton thanks to his struggle. Then in August 2022, where the Nigerian had suffered a spectacular disappointment: despite a total domination against Edwards and an almost acquired victory, the native of Auchi had been surprised in the last round by a devastating high kick received in the head. The Briton took the UFC welterweight championship and ended his streak of 14 consecutive victories. Hard blow.




— RMC Sport Combat (@RMCSportCombat) August 21, 2022


I don't have much left to prove," the Nigerian said at a pre-fight press conference. This fight will be special too! Why am I so relaxed? I have confidence in myself and I do everything right in the gym, in training. In a white-hot O2 Arena in London and committed to Edwards' cause, he had to demonstrate his ability to recover from his bitter failure at UFC 286.

The least we can say is that the specter of the K.O. still hovered over Kamaru Usman's head. Too much, certainly, since in the first round the Nigerian seemed more withdrawn than usual against a confident Leon Edwards at home. Above all, Usman was too slow to bring the Briton to the ground, yet his weak point. Faced with the lengthening and striking power of his opponent, who delivered some good low kicks while staying at a distance, Usman appeared helpless. He even wobbled late in the first round on a huge shot from the defending champion.

Edwards' Iron Defense

After a timid start to the fight, Usman put more emphasis on wrestling by trying to bring his opponent to the ground. Without success, since Edwards systematically got out of the vice of the Nigerian thanks to a very good defense that left him without solutions. Annoyed, giving the impression of gradually coming out of his fight, Kamaru Usman continued to suffer the powerful blows of the Briton on the lower body without being able to fight back.

After several unsuccessful attempts, he finally managed to regain the measure of the fight in the 3rd round by pressuring Edwards during a ground hold, who then grabbed the grid of the cage without thinking. A prohibited defensive gesture immediately sanctioned by the referee. The fight then became much more indecisive.

The Briton's undermining work began to pay off in the last two rounds. Displaying little response to get the better of his opponent, Usman seemed helpless against his opponent's blows and could not thwart his impeccable defense on the ground phases. While he had been totally dominated in their previous confrontation, winning the belt only on a stroke of brilliance in the last seconds, Leon Edwards this time showed the full extent of his progress and proved that he is the undisputed king of his category.


— UFC (@ufc) March 19, 2023

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