What happened in the first two Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman fights? Results from UFC 286 rivals’ path to trilogy
In a sport prone to brutal early eliminations, Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman could end up as two fighters who shared nearly 13 rounds of each other by the end of their trilogy fight at UFC 286.
Welterweight Champion Edwards will face Usman in the headline match in London in an act three that owes part of its intrigue to the unpredictable drama the MMA arch-rivals produced in their second bout.
It was almost seven years between their first two meetings, but they will face off less than seven months after their second fight at a sold-out O2 Arena.
What happened in these fights and what are Edwards and Usman’s overall records? The Sporting News looks back on the brawls.
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What happened in Usman vs Edwards 1?
Usman and Edwards were relative newcomers to their first match, with the British guest in Florida recovering from a loss in his UFC debut and claiming back-to-back wins before the bout.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” had won The Ultimate Fighter five months earlier in the seventh professional fight of his career, and his victory over Edwards in a preliminary card in December 2015 was rarely in doubt.
True to the form he would show as he rose to prominence, Usman relied on takedowns early on. However, in the second round, he tested Edwards’ recovery powers by landing a concussive left, then attempted to end the encounter early.
In a attrition showdown, Usman won the third round on the floor and struck, but Edwards proved his credentials by missing the scorecards and losing unanimously (29-28, 30-27, 29-28).
What happened in Usman vs Edwards 2?
The second bout between the opponents started with a shock as Edwards became the first UFC fighter to score an official takedown on Usman and nearly earned a first-round submission win.
Usman recovered and was comfortably heading for a second success on the scorecards as the fight went into the final minute of the final fifth round, which likely would have meant there was no trilogy fight.
After being outclassed in the previous three rounds, Edwards knocked out Usman with a perfect headbutt to avenge his loss to the same opponent and become a slightly incredulous champion, ending his victim’s 30-month reign with five defenses.
Edwards was entitled to be stunned after bringing a spectacular end to a 14-fight win streak that lasted more than seven years for Usman.
When is Edwards vs Usman 3?
- Date: Saturday March 18 | Sunday March 19th
- Early FIGHT PASS Prelims: 1 p.m. ET | 5pm GMT | 4 p.m. AEDT
- Front matter: 3 p.m. ET | 7pm GMT | 6 a.m. AEDT
- Main card: 5 p.m. ET | 9pm GMT | 8 a.m. AEDT
- Main event: 8 p.m. ET | 12pm GMT | 11 a.m. AEDT (approx.)
UFC 286 takes place in Game 18. The FIGHT PASS Preliminaries begin at approximately 1:00 p.m. ET. Prelims will go live at 3:00 p.m. ET and the main card will begin at 5:00 p.m. ET on ESPN + PPV.
Edwards and Usman were scheduled to make their way to the Octagon around 8 p.m. ET, depending on how long the undercard fights last.
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What is Leon Edwards’ MMA record?
Edward’s father worked in London after buying the family a house in the Aston area of Birmingham while his mother was a cleaner. Tragically for Edwards, who insisted his childhood was “not a sad story” and he was “happy as a kid”, his father was shot dead in a London nightclub when the future MMA fighter was 14 years old.
Edwards was part of gangs and often involved in fights as a teenager. “There were a few things I did during that time that I really regret,” he said.
“It’s hard to believe it was me who did it. It’s like a different life. I don’t like to talk about it. And I try to make it up to them every day.”
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A turning point came when Edwards stopped by a new local MMA training facility with his mother, who decided to get him involved in the sport to keep her son out of trouble.
The idea proved to be a masterstroke: Edwards became the world welterweight champion for the now-defunct British Association of Mixed Martial Arts (BAMMA).
He joined the UFC after making a BAMMA title defense, losing his debut for promotion via split decision to Claudio Silva in Brazil before winning twice and losing to Usman.
Edwards then won 10 straight fights before facing Usman again, including three victories in London to cement his hero status for British fans and victories abroad against Donald Cerrone and Nate Diaz.
“I never dreamed of becoming a top 10 fighter in the world as a kid,” Edwards said, adding that he was “cut for the position”.
“Never. That wasn’t even a thought in my head. Getting to where I am now is f—— crazy. It’s crazy.”
His all-pro record in MMA is now 20-3 and his UFC numbers are 12-2.
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What is Kamaru Usman’s MMA record?
While trying to get the US wrestling team qualified for the 2012 Olympics, NCAA champion Usman was gradually persuaded to pursue MMA as a career. He won gold at the 2010 NCAA Ndivision II National Championships in Omaha.
After being a coach for The Ultimate Fighter in 2011, Usman won the series – and with it a UFC contract – in 2015, beating Edwards unanimously in his first fight for promotion that same year.
Defeating Tyron Woodley at UFC 235 in 2019 earned Usman the welterweight title, which he successfully defended six times in less than three years, including twice defeating Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal on either side of the KO win over Gilbert Burns at UFC 258.
Among his long list of historic accomplishments, Usman became the first Nigerian-born UFC champion, has the most consecutive welterweight wins (15) and was named 2021 UFC Fighter of the Year.
Losing to Edwards in 2022 was Usman’s first in the UFC. His record stood at 15-1 while his MMA career numbers sit at 20-2.
A return to winning ways on Edward’s lawn would be another spectacular achievement in an extraordinary MMA career.