Elite Welterweight talents Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman will settle their trilogy TONIGHT (Sat., March 18, 2023) in the pay-per-view (PPV) main event of UFC 286, which will take place inside The O2 in London, England.
Usman was able to out-wrestle Edwards earlier in their respective careers, suffocating “Rocky” en route to a comfortable unanimous decision win at UFC on FOX 17. Seven years later — and both unbeaten since their first collision — the duo met again at UFC 278 for the title, with Edwards closing the show with an epic high kick to steal the title (Usman was up on the scorecards), marking one of the greatest UFC knockout wins ever (watch highlights).
It’s hard to draft a better trilogy match than this — there are genuine reasons to believe that either fighter could win this evening. Usman won way more minutes (and rounds) in their previous two fights, while Edwards sent “Nigerian Nightmare” into the shadow realm just seven months ago.
IT’S A CHAMPIONSHIP TRILOGY FOR THE AGES!
Live updates will begin to flow below the moment the two fighters make their way to the Octagon ...
Usman, the challenger in a fight for the first time since 2019, was the first to make the walk to the cage to a chorus of British boo-birds:
Time to talk in that Octagon ️@Usman84kg | #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/lozIW83Vp9— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023
Then it was time for London’s “Rocky” to make his walk ... and the crowd went absolutely bonkers:
COME ON LEON! @Leon_EdwardsMMA | #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/DI36MmerWL— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023
After Usman was announced, he walked across the Octagon to get in the face of Edwards, who just pretended to calmly shoot him dead with his finger. There was no eye contact or touch of gloves in the pre-fight meeting and we we’re off ...
THIS SHIT IS PERSONAL #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/hPD7onEiIp— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023
Usman crawled out of his corner, with Edwards immediately feinting and level-changing, ready for whatever “Nigerian Nightmare” had up his sleeve. Usman with a low kick, with Edwards countering (and missing) with a looping left hand. Nice left hand from Edwards as Usman was trying to get close. Low kick from Edwards, with Usman pumping jabs into the air from a safe distance. Jab for Usman finally landed and moments later the two got tangled in the center of the Octagon and then separated quickly. Nice high kick from Edwards was blocked, with Usman now putting on some pressure. Edwards drilled him with a hard body kick that seemed to take him off his feet, then another as he tried to recover. He immediately pushed Edwards up against the cage, but Edwards was able to circle out. Edwards was warned for putting his hand inside Usman’s glove. Usman continued the pressure on the restart, with Edwards scoring with low kicks until the bell blared — another solid first round for the champion.
Rocky throwing the kick but Usman covering up! #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/Vt86Ups2U0— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023
Usman came rushing out of his corner to start the second stanza and referee, Herb Dean, had to stop the action and put him back in it. Edwards landed a low blow when the action actually did start and then a nice body kick when it restarted. Usman with a jab, which he tried to use to muscle his way in close, but Edwards drilled him with a perfect knee. Usman didn’t seem fazed though, drilling Edwards with a hard right hand and then scoring a takedown. Edwards got back to his feet quickly, but Usman drilled his ear with hard shots the entire way up. Usman tried another takedown, but Edwards sprawled and landed a hard left hand once they got back to their feet. Usman still on the hunt, not giving Edwards the space to use his legs. They trade low kicks with one minute remaining, with Usman firing that left jab like a piston in the final minute. Usman fired off a flurry at the bell, perhaps trying to steal a close round.
THE BOYS ARE AT IT AGAIN! #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/rWK1tRfWn1— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023
Inside low kick from Edwards got things going, hoping to halt the momentum of “Nigerian Nightmare.” Usman snatched a single-leg takedown just 45 seconds into the round and ended up in side control, battering him with short left hands. Edwards scrambled to his feet and tried to scramble away, but Usman was draped in his back. As he bolted for the fence, he grabbed a firm hold, forcing Dean to dock Edwards one point ... a big point in such a close fight. The pair restarted in their feet, with Edwards going back to low kicks. Nice jab from Usman, snapping Edwards’ head back twice. Moments later, Edwards drilled Usman in the junk with a hard kick, once again stopping the action momentarily. There was another close call moments later, and it appeared to really aggravate Edwards, who uncorked a mean combination on the restart. More low kicks from Edwards, hoping they pay dividends in the championship rounds. Nice elbow from Usman after eating a nice shot from Edwards. Tough round to score with the point deduction — it could loom large if the fight goes the distance.
ENTERING CHAMPIONSHIP ROUNDS #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/fibeKBH8gL— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023
Heading into the championship rounds and the fight was likely even. Low kicks from Edwards early again, while Usman continued to pressure “Rocky” and force him to fight off his back foot whenever possible. The pair exchanged low kicks and Usman wiped out, with Edwards trying to get behind him, but he wasn’t fast enough. Nice body kick from Edwards, who appears to be slowly working his way up to Usman’s head. Hard straight right from Usman, with Edwards’s content to just kick, kick and kick. Stiff jab from Edwards, who whiffed on a follow up right hook and Usman was underneath him. Edwards with great takedown defense, getting back to his feet and drill Usman with another knee to the face and a follow up hook. Usman in on a single-leg takedown moments later and Usman shucked him off once again. Nice uppercut from Edwards, with Usman sliding all over the canvas, trying to find “Rocky.”
Fifth and final round and Edwards is in a much better place than he was in the second fight despite the point deduction. He landed a hard shot early and immediately after Usman was in on a single-leg, looking to get the fight to the ground. Left hand, uppercut, HEAD KICK combination from Edwards on the break, but Usman weathered the awesome combination. He looked tired, though, attempting to once again takedown Edwards along the fence ... and failing one again. Nice jab from Edwards, then a low kick, as Usman continued to stalk him. Big body kick from Edwards as Usman went in for a lazy takedown and this time he got it with 90 seconds on the clock. Edwards was up quick, though, and slammed his fist into Usman’s face. Undeterred, Usman went in for another takedown much to the chagrin of the proud London crowd.
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
Final result: Leon Edwards def. Kamaru Usman via majority decision — SEE SCORECARD
AND STILL!!! LEON SILENCES THE DOUBTERS!!!! #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/kPEEGQChss— UFC (@ufc) March 19, 2023
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