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19th Mar 2023

Leon Edwards defends welterweight title to end wild UFC 286 night in London

Patrick McCarry

‘Rocky’ even got to meet ‘Spiderman’ after the fight.

The UFC returned to London for a homecoming card as Leon Edwards looked to defend his welterweight title for the first time, writes Donal Long.

After his spectacular comeback knockout over Kamaru Usman, the two would meet for the third time in the O2 Arena. The card would be filled with British talent as well as high-stake bouts.

Here are some of the main takeaways from the card:

‘I think I did enough… I’m not done’

Leon Edwards brought the UFC back to London for his third meeting with former pound-for-pound king Kamaru Usman.

The Jamaican-English fighter deployed an excellent fight plan as he neutralised Usman’s attacks. With excellent takedown defence and effective use of kicks, Edwards was able to inflict damage while keeping the fight where he wanted.

Some controversy featured in the bout as Leon Edwards was deducted a point after he grabbed the cage to stop an Usman takedown. However, Edwards did enough to remain the
champion, getting a majority decision win in his first defence.

Kamaru Usman did not agree with the judges’ decision. “I think I did enough”, was his response to Daniel Cormier in his post fight interview. He feels that he will meet Edwards
again in the future, and insists he is “not done”.

‘Rocky Edwards’ then got to celebrate his title defence by catching up with Spiderman star Tom Holland, back-stage.

Up next for Leon Edwards is another title defence, this time against the biggest pantomime villain in the UFC, Colby Covington.

UFC president Dana White says Edwards will face Covington for the 170lbs strap ‘no matter what happens’.

Justin Gaethje Wins War Over Rafael Fiziev

An action packed co-main event would see two top ten lightweights meet in order to climb the rankings. Gaethje would come into the fight as an underdog as he faced a vicious up and comer in Rafael Fiziev. However, good defence and excellent shot selection would see the American get a majority decision.

In his post fight press conference, Gaethje said he doesn’t feel like he has many fights left in his career, but still has title aspirations.

Leon EdwardsJustin Gaethje punches Rafael Fiziev during their lightweight bout at The O2 Arena. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Gunnar Nelson Makes Quick Work of Bryan Barberena

Training in SBG Dublin, the Icelandic fighter had an extremely impressive performance on the main card of UFC 286.

His dominant wrestling display ended with an armbar in the final seconds of round one. Gunnar Nelson now makes it two wins in a row following his losses to Gilbert Burns and Leon Edwards.

Leon EdwardsGunnar Nelson pins Bryan Barberena during UFC 286. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Marvin Vetorri Remains Top Contender

To open the London main card middleweight contenders Marvin Vettori and Roman Dolidze met in a back and forth affair.

Dolidze would have a lot of success on the feet, landing some major shots on the Italian fighter. However, the former title challenger’s chin held up and was able to fire back with succession.

Vettori got a unanimous decision win at the end of the fight to retain his top spot in the middleweight rankings. However, the decision was somewhat controversial given the success that Dolidze had.

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