Welterweight contender Leon Edwards (18-3) won his eighth straight fight Saturday night in San Antonio on the strength of a diverse attack, earning a unanimous decision over former lightweight world champion Rafael Dos Anjos (29-12). Scores were 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46 for the Brit.
After the win, Edwards called for two rematches, of sorts. Last March, Edwards instigated an argument that turned into a quick backstage brawl with Jorge Masvidal, after both men had won their respective bouts in London.
Their scrap was brief, but it ended with Masvidal teeing off on Edwards and leaving him bleeding from his face. Edwards’ rival has since further propelled himself to stardom by knocking Ben Askren out in record fashion.
Edwards’ own trajectory at this point is beyond stellar, of course. “Rocky” has not lost an official fight since 2015, to now-UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, by decision.
Edwards called out the new champ after calling out Masvidal. “I feel great,” he began.
“I’m on an eight-fight win streak, one of hardest divisions in sport. [Jorge Masvidal], accept the fight and let’s do it. You’re not on my level. Let’s make the fight happen, me and Jorge Masvidal.”
Speaking of Usman later, Edwards continued, saying, “Give me the rematch. He was the last guy to beat me.” In order to make his case for either fight to be compelling, Edwards had to first beat Dos Anjos, and he did so in impression fashion.
The fight was hotly contested from horn to horn, with the Brazilian scoring often and attempting to score a knockout until the last moments when he tried for a flying-knee strike. Still, as well as Dos Anjos fought, it was the far younger and larger Edwards who managed to stay calm, fight quicker, and land just that much more offense for five rounds.
Throughout the main event, Edwards mixed his attack up, clinching and scoring takedowns when Dos Anjos began finding moments of success on the feet with striking, and also deftly rebuffing all of the Jiu-Jitsu black belt’s own takedown attempts. Edwards landed a long cross and short elbow to the head of his opponent over and again, opening up a bad cut early on Dos Anjos’ right eye.
The 27-year-old also managed to be first on separation from clinch exchanges most of the time and racked up riding time on top on the mat. Dos Anjos was quite effective as well, in spurts, as the two spent almost all of the fight either right in front of one another, trading blows, or pressed up against each other on the fence or on the ground.
Dos Anjos dropped Edwards with a leg kick in the second round after spending much of the first on his back underneath him, and also connected with several hard punches to the body and head in each round.
In the end, however, Edwards managed to out-score Dos Anjos in most exchanges and that led to an advantage on the scorecards for him. The surging title-contender spoke afterward about how significant it was for him to beat a world champion like Dos Anjos.
“I’m still growing, still learning,” he said.
“To compete against a former world champion in [Dos Anjos], I feel I great. I’m proving to the kids from the UK that you can stay in the UK and do it.”
Full UFC: San Antonio Results:
Leon Edwards defeats Rafael Dos Anjos via UD 50-45, 49-46 (twice)
Walt Harris defeats Aleksei Oleinik via first-round KO (0:12)
Greg Hardy defeats Juan Adams via first-round TKO (0:45)
Dan Hooker defeats James Vick via first-round KO (2:33) |
Alexander Hernandez defeats Francisco Trinaldo via UD 30-27 (twice), 29-28
Andrei Arlovski defeats Ben Rothwell via unanimous decision 30-27 (three times)
Alex Caceres defeats Steven Peterson via unanimous decision 30-27, 29-28 (twice)
Raquel Pennington defeats Irene Aldana via split decision 28-29, 29-28 (twice)
Klidson Abreu defeats Sam Alvey via unanimous decision 30-27 (twice), 29-28
Jennifer Maia defeats Roxanne Modafferi via unanimous decision 30-27 (three times)
Ray Borg defeats Gabriel Silva via unanimous decision 29-28 (three times)
Mario Bautista defeats Jin Soo Son via unanimous decision 30-27 (twice), 29-28
Felipe Colares defeats Domingo Pilarte via split decision 29-28, 28-29, 29-28
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