On March 18, in the third head-to-head between Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman, Edwards was able to defeat Usman again, defying the odds despite a crucial point deduction. The UFC 286 main event, held at The O2 in London, resulted in a majority decision victory for Edwards (21-3 MMA, 13-2 UFC) over Usman (20-3 MMA, 15-2 UFC), allowing him to retain the promotion's welterweight title.
During Round 1, Usman demonstrated caution and respect towards Edwards' striking, resulting in low volume. This allowed Edwards to take control of the fight early on. In Round 2, Edwards landed a significant knee, possibly the most notable strike of the fight, around the same time as the crowd chanted his signature line, "Headshot, dead." Despite being momentarily unstable, Usman regained his footing and scored a takedown, followed by landing big punches on Edwards. Eventually, Edwards rose and separated.
However, Round 3 saw a significant, fight-changing moment when Edwards was deducted a point by referee Herb Dean for a flagrant cage grab during an Usman takedown attempt. Throughout the fight, Edwards committed several fouls, including groin strikes and a glove grab, leading to warnings from the referee.
The momentum shifted back and forth as the competitors entered the championship rounds. As time passed, Edwards began to show signs of fatigue, but he fought through it. In Round 4, he found success, and in Round 5, he sent the crowd into a frenzy with some significant strikes.
Throughout the final round, Usman repeatedly attempted takedowns, while Edwards denied each one until Usman was finally able to drag him down with about 90 seconds remaining on the clock. Edwards worked his way back up and separated with around a minute left. However, Usman shot again, much to the displeasure of the London crowd, and continued to pressure Edwards until the final bell.
After the defeat, Usman, 35, told BT Sport that he believed he had done enough to win the fight and that he was not finished. He also showed good sportsmanship by acknowledging Edwards' win, saying, "I've always given him props for everything he's been able to accomplish. He's just like me. It's in his blood. Much respect, London. You've got yourself a great champion and a hell of a guy."
The UFC shared the scorecards on Twitter, revealing that Edwards had won with scores of 48-46, 48-46, and 47-47.