Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman -- Round 5: Edwards finally through the head kick he had been planting all fight. Usman managed to get one hand up for a partial block. Usman failed on another takedown. Usman landed a right hook and Edwards landed simultaneously with the uppercut. Another head-kick attempt by Edwards elicited a roar from the crowd. Edwards with another uppercut. Edwards shucked off another takedown and landed the jab. Another clinch knee for Edwards. Usman ate a few more punches before getting another brief takedown. Edwards with an elbow, Usman swarmed to the bell. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Edwards (48-46 overall for Edwards)
UFC 286 results, highlights: Leon Edwards scores majority decision to retain title over Kamaru Usman
The champion executed a near flawless gameplan over the course of 25 minutes to turn away the challenger
Leon Edwards did everything in his power -- including bending and breaking several rules -- to retain his welterweight championship over five hard rounds in the main event of UFC 286 in London on Saturday evening. Edwards managed to edge out Kamaru Usman by majority decision, finally establishing himself as the best 170-pound fighter in the world.
There were doubts to Edwards' claim to the throne when it took until the final minute of his fight with Usman at UFC 278 to land a head kick knockout in a fight Usman had largely dominated.
In this meeting, Edwards got off to a fantastic start, managing distance well and dominating the striking exchanges. His most effective shots were kicks to the body and legs, which may well have been a tool Edwards was using to set up another head kick, like the one that won him the welterweight championship in his previous meeting with Usman.
A knee to the chin by Edwards was the first shot of the night to wobble either fighter, briefly putting Usman on rubber legs. Usman showed that his chin was not destroyed by the aforementioned head kick by firing back with a big right hand, scoring a takedown and landing a big flurry of punches to the head as Edwards worked back to his feet.
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Usman continued to dial in on his wrestling going forward, leading to a big moment in the fight as Edwards used a fence grab to prevent being taken down. Referee Herb Dean immediately stopped the action and took a point from Edwards as the illegal move prevented Usman from scoring the takedown. Edwards nearly lost a second point in the round after landing his second low blow of the fight, which was added to a glove grab that had earned him a warning.
AND STILL!!! LEON SILENCES THE DOUBTERS!!!! #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/kPEEGQChss— UFC (@ufc) March 19, 2023
In the final round, Edwards finally threw the head kick he'd been setting up all fight, mixing it in between uppercuts and straight punches. It was Edwards' ability to defend takedowns that was key in the fifth of five very close rounds, constantly defending against Usman shots and quickly bouncing back to his feet when he was taken to the canvas.
As the fight went to the scorecards, it seemed either man could take the decision -- or the Edwards point deduction could have led to a draw.
Instead, it was Edwards retaining by majority decision, drawing wild cheers from the London crowd as the official scores of 48-46, 48-46 and 47-47 were read.
Two-time former welterweight title challenger Colby Covington was cageside for the event and had weighed in Friday as the UFC's backup should either man in the main event not make it to fight night. While interviewed after his victory, Edwards was asked about the possibility of his next title defense coming against Covington, which he quickly blew of, instead suggesting he may head to UFC 287 to catch the welterweight co-main event between Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal.
"That man sat out for like a year and a half, two years," Edwards said of Covington. "He ain't fought nobody. I might take a little trip to Miami and ... I'll see what's going on from there."
Covington has only fought once, a decision win over Masvidal, since his second loss to Usman in November 2021.
As for Usman, there were some concerns the former champion could decide to retire from active competition should he fail to regain the welterweight title. Usman shot down any idea of such a move in the aftermath of the loss, saying he intended to make another run at the title in the near future.
Elsewhere, Justin Gaethje proved he's still got some tread left on those tires. The former lightweight title challenger grinded out a bloody decision over Rafael Fiziev in the co-main event that was as exciting as expected. Gaethje was wobbled multiple times in the first round but never wavered. He slowly worked himself back into the fight before eventually taking a majority decision. Gaethje said he plans on one final run at the 155-pound title before laying down the gloves and heading into retirement.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way on Saturday bringing you all the results and highlights from the UFC 286 below.
UFC 286 card and results
- Leon Edwards (c) def. Kamaru Usman via majority decision (48-46, 48-46, 47-47)
- Justin Gaethje def. Rafael Fiziev via majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)
- Gunnar Nelson def. Bryan Barberena via first-round submission (armbar)
- Jennifer Maia def. Casey O'Neill via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Marvin Vettori def. Roman Dolidze via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Jack Shore def. Makwan Amirkhani via second-round submission (rear-naked choke)
- Chris Duncan def. Omar Morales via split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
- Yanal Ashmoz def. Sam Patterson via first-round TKO (punches)
- Muhammad Mokaev def. Jafel Filho via third-round submission (rear naked choke)
- Lerone Murphy vs. Gabriel Santos via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Christian Leroy Duncan def. Dusko Todorovic via first-round TKO (injury)
- Jake Hadley def. Malcolm Gordon via first-round TKO (punches)
- Joanne Wood def. Luana Carolina via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
- Ludovit Klein vs. Jai Herbert ends in a majority draw (29-27, 28-28, 28-28)
- Veronica Macedo def. Julianna Miller via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
AND STILL!!! LEON SILENCES THE DOUBTERS!!!! #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/kPEEGQChss— UFC (@ufc) March 19, 2023
WHAT A BATTLE 👏 #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/6wl4UE8Grm— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 19, 2023
Official result: Leon Edwards def. Kamaru Usman via majority decision (48-46, 48-46, 47-47) to retain the UFC middleweight championship.
For the final time, we go into the Edwards corner before a HUGE Round 5.— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) March 18, 2023
Can 🏆 @Leon_EdwardsMMA do it again? #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/AfWm2CWNE3
Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman -- Round 4: Usman caught Edwards with a right-hand-left-hand combo. The crowd broke out briefly into chants of "headshot, bang," urging Edwards to repeat his 2022 KO of the Year. Usman slipped badly but managed to avoid ending in an inopportune position. Edwards continued to invest in the body and leg kicks. A nice left hand landed for Edwards. Multiple jabs found the mark for Edwards. Usman locked his hands and lifted up Edwards, but couldn't hold the position. Both men appeared more sluggish in this round. Another failed takedown attempt by Usman. Another round for the champ off the strength of his many leg kicks, but it was close and could have gone either way. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Edwards (38-37 overall for Edwards).
🚨 ENTERING CHAMPIONSHIP ROUNDS 🚨 #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/fibeKBH8gL— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023
Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman -- Round 3: Usman secured a takedown early in Round 3, but Edwards worked his way to the feet. Usman appeared on the verge of landing takedowns on two separate occasions, but Edwards grabbed the fence. Referee Herb Dean was unable to grant Usman a dominant position, so he deducted a point from Edwards for the illegal fence grab. Usman snapped Edwards' head back with a jab. Each man traded leg kicks. The fight was again halted after Edwards caught Usman with another low blow. The champ caught Usman with another hard Muay Thai knee to the head, followed by multiple leg kicks. Usman with a stellar elbow over Edwards' guard. Edwards appeared to land the more impactful blows, but he also had a point deducted. Unofficial scorecard: 9-9 draw (28-28 overall).
Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman -- Round 2: An odd start to Round 2. The referee immediately halted the action and made Usman go back because he had come too close to Edwards before the round started. A grazing low blow by Edwards required a second pause shortly after. A few inside leg kicks for Edwards. Usman caught him with a jab. A Muay Thai knee wobbled Usman momentarily. A hard punch back from Usman saved him from further forward pressure. Usman appeared to stun Edwards with a right hand and used it to takedown Edwards. Usman had the back, but Edwards returned to his feet. Usman trapped the hand and unloaded punches on Edwards. The champion shot for his own takedown but it was easily sprawled. Edwards hit Usman with a left hand in a close exchange. Both guys landed to close the round. It was a very close second round, so I'll lean with the person who landed more volume. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Usman (19-19 overall)
Rocky throwing the kick but Usman covering up! #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/Vt86Ups2U0— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023
Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman -- Round 1: Edwards looks noticeably bigger than Usman. Edwards caught Usman with a short left hand early in the fight. Usman returned fire with a small right hook. Edwards partially landed a knee in the clinch and followed it with a nice low kick. Edwards visibly hurt Usman with a body kick and immediately fired off a second one. Usman responded wisely by punching his way into a takedown attempt against the fence. Edwards successfully defended the takedown. Referee Herb Dean paused the fight and warned Edwards for hooking the inside of Usman's glove, an illegal tactic. Another body kick for Edwards. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Edwards
THIS SHIT IS PERSONAL 🔥 #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/hPD7onEiIp— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023
COME ON LEON! 😤@Leon_EdwardsMMA | #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/DI36MmerWL— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023
Bruce Buffer is about to introduce the main event fighters.
All that remains is the main event! Leon Edwards shocked the world with a hail mary, come-from-behind head kick that stripped Kamaru Usman of the UFC welterweight title and the chance to tie the all-time UFC win-streak record. Usman enters enemy territory in London in pursuit of the treasure that was taken from him.
AS ADVERTISED!!!!!!!!!! 🤯😳 #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/HXT5czKUc7— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023
Official result: Justin Gaethje def. Rafael Fiziev via majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)
Rafael Fiziev vs. Justin Gaethje -- Round 3: Fiziev badly hurt Gaethje several times early in the round, throwing lightning-quick shots to the body and head, at one point buckling Gaethje's knees. Gaethje started to fire back with his own bombs and even fished for a single-leg takedown, though he had to abandon the effort. A massive overhand right connected clean for Gaethje, as did an uppercut. Gaethje took over down the stretch, landing jab after jab and punishing Fiziev with heavy uppercuts when they came together. Gaethje then scored with a takedown with three seconds left in the round.
Gaethje had to hold back that final punch before the bell 😳 #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/ernYECucYZ— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 18, 2023
MORE VIOLENCE 😳 #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/KIonr3sByJ— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023
Rafael Fiziev vs. Justin Gaethje -- Round 2: Fiziev blasted Gaethje to the body with a huge kick and Gaethje was forced to clinch up. Fiziev was caught by an accidental eye poke that caused a cut and a brief break in the action. Gaethje threw a head kick when the fighters were restarted. Fiziev continued to land to the body with kicks, punches and knees throughout the round while Gaethje landed the better punches to th head, causing several more cuts on Fiziev's face.
One round down. Heavy breathing. #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/AMpjNiQjGW— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023
Rafael Fiziev vs. Justin Gaethje -- Round 1: Gaethje landed a brutal leg kick in the opening moments of the fight. Fiziev landed some of his own kicks both to the leg and the body. Fiziev cracked Gaethje hard with a few counters but Gaethje ate them and came back with his own flurry. Fiziev started landing some hard punches and mised in body kicks as Gaethje looked as though he may be getting a little overwhelmed by Fiziev's speed. Gaethje shot for a takedown and Fiziev easily shrugged him off. Gaethje landed a few good punches at the end of the ground after getting cracked by a knee to the body.
Your favorite fighter's favorite fighter 🤩@Justin_Gaethje | #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/oxRaIsE1ho— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023
We are not worthy of a matchup of this magnitude 🥵— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023
Strap in for the match making treat that is @Justin_Gaethje vs @RafaelFiziev!
[ 📺 #UFC286 co-main is LIVE on @ESPNPlus PPV ] pic.twitter.com/fA2qQrq7jI
It's time for the co-main event. Every Justin Gaethje fight is a Fight of the Night frontrunner and his clash with Rafael Fiziev is no different.
No prediction tonight, but @ColbyCovMMA is ready for another shot at gold 👀 #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/92M6ztaVFb— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023
The North remembers ⚔️— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023
Game of Thrones star @Maisie_Williams in the building for #UFC286! pic.twitter.com/28TYjdbvgf
He's just too crafty on the ground 😮💨@GunniNelson with the armbar finish! #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/qDOp1FwtLm— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023
WHEN THE LONDON CROWD HITS THE SKOL CHANT 🗣 🔊 #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/ITw4pcGsWP— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 18, 2023