With UFC 286 in the rear view mirror, Leon Edwards has closed out the trilogy against Kamaru Usman. The win marks Leon’s first title defense and the beginning of his reign. Now that the dust has settled, we can look ahead to a new era in the division.
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Both fighters made adaptations from the previous fight. Usman made sure to stay defensively sound. Leon threw the high kick several times, but Kamaru made sure to block it. However, Usman’s adjustment gave Leon more space to operate on the feet. For his part, Leon’s takedown defense was exquisite. He made sure not to allow Usman to lock the hands. As a result, Kamaru had a hard time scoring takedowns and an even harder time holding Leon down.
Although both fighters had their moments, Leon comfortably took the decision on the scorecards. In retrospect, this decision seems correct. Leon clearly out struck Usman throughout the fight. While Kamaru applied forward pressure, Leon managed to evade or block most of Usman’s attacks. Leon comfortably won rounds 1, 4, and 5. However, Kamaru managed to notch a 10-8 round in the third due to Leon’s illegal fence grab. Round 2 was the closest, as Usman did land an impressive right hand and had success with his wrestling. However, Leon landed powerful strikes of his own that round. Both fighters fought well, and Leon demonstrated championship caliber skills both on the feet and the ground.
Moving forward, Leon Edwards will likely face off against Colby Covington. Leon’s performances against Usman should bode well against another grinding wrestler in Covington. Usman has stated his intention to earn a fourth fight with Edwards. While that seems far-fetched at the moment, crazier things have happened in this sport. Both Edwards and Usman have a plethora of fascinating matchups available to them.