LONDON – Leon Edwards retained his welterweight title Saturday, beating challenger Kamaru Usman at UFC 286 by majority decision.
Judges scored the trilogy fight at the O2 Arena in London 48-46, 48-46, 47-47 in favor of the Jamaican-born Brit, who landed the cleaner blows as their third fight went the distance.
Edwards made an encouraging start, connecting with two heavy body kicks in the opening round.
The 31-year-old Edwards’ greater speed unsettled Usman, but the challenger took Edwards down briefly in round two before both fighters traded some heavy blows.
Usman grappled Edwards to the floor again early in the third and the latter was docked a point for grabbing the fence.
A similar pattern unfolded in the fourth, which was just as tight, with Edwards looking to keep his distance as Usman tried to get in close.
Edwards evaded two more takedown attempts in the final round and caught Usman with an uppercut, but took a hit to the body as his title defense went down to the wire.
Edwards had ended Usman’s long reign as champion with a kick to the Nigerian's head and neck in the fifth round in Salt Lake City in August in UFC 278.
This was their third meeting, more than seven years after the first fight won by Usman.
“I think I did enough to win the fight,” the 35-year-old Usman told BT Sport after Saturday's defeat. “I’m not done.”
Usman called Edwards “a great champion.”
American Justin Gaethje beat Rafael Fiziev in the lightweight category by majority decision, 29-28, 29-28, 28-28.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports