By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
It was a fitting ending to one of the most electric Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) trilogies of all time.
Eager to put on a show in front of his home fans in London, reigning UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards went out with an effective game plan to fend off Kamaru Usman via a unanimous decision win last March 18, 2023, held at the 02 Arena in London.
Aside from his first successful championship title defense, Edwards’ second win-in-a-row against Usman also ended their trilogy that put him up, 2-1.
From a passive approach that trailed him for most of the fight before landing a vicious leg kick to Usman’s head that gave him the upset win in their last encounter, Edwards showed his full offensive arsenal in the decider and immediately gave the former pound-for-pound king the business.
Edwards wasn’t the one backpedaling anymore. Soon as the official math bell rang, the slick stand-up fighter swarmed Usman with tons of leg kicks that piled up his scorecards in all the five rounds.
As Usman attempted to take the fight to the ground, everyone stood up in awe after Edwards recorded five successful take-down defenses that neutralized the former champion’s strategy of pulling off a submission win.
It was in the fourth round that Edwards began to dictate the tempo of the fight after winning most of their stand-up exchanges including a huge score boost in the last 40 seconds.
Edwards barraged Usman with thundering kicks to the head, body, and legs before setting up his two-punch combination that caught the latter off guard.
Despite Usman’s resiliency and strength, Edwards didn’t risk himself in the last round and comfortably scored more leg kicks to put the cherry on top.
Usman had two big moments in the fifth and final round when he pinned Edwards to the corner of the cage and looked for a ground-and-pound but the English champion was wise to keep his head up and slid his right arm to prevent any submission.
Two judges scored the bout 48-46 in favor of the hometown favorite while the last judge scored a draw, 47-all.
“I knew I could go out there and take his shots. Even when he was pressuring, not much happened,” Edwards said after the match.
With the win, Edwards now improved his professional MMA record to 21 wins and three losses while Usman dropped to 20 wins and three losses.