Leon Edwards continued his rocket ride to the top of the UFC welterweight division by taking a dominant decision over former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos at UFC on ESPN 4 on Saturday in San Antonio, Texas.
Dos Anjos opened aggressively, immediately pressing forward, but Edwards timed him well and scored a quick takedown. He wasn’t able to mount a lot of damage while on the ground, but Edwards was in the dominant position and landed a few punches and elbows that got dos Anjos’ attention before the Brazilian worked his way back to the feet.
With time winding down on the opening round, dos Anjos attacked Edwards’ lead leg with low kicks, looking to slow the Englishman down. It was a solid game plan, but Edwards countered most of dos Anjos’ attacks with some cutting elbows.
Dos Anjos continued to be effective with his low kicks to Edwards’ lead leg, even dropping him with it at one point in the second round. Edwards, however, did more visible damage with his ever-sharpening elbows, opening a deep cut over dos Anjos’ right eye.
Edwards really caught fire in the third round, as he started to use his jab with greater effect, setting up some blistering combinations with his lethal elbows consistently cutting dos Anjos’ attacks short.
Dos Anjos kept pressing forward in the final two frames, but Edwards continued to outpace him with combinations and remained just far enough out of range that the former lightweight champion couldn’t land the power shot he needed to put an end to the fight.
After five full rounds, Edwards was awarded an overwhelming unanimous nod from the judges, and immediately took aim at a fighter with whom he’s had a backstage beef.
“I’m on an eight fight win streak in one of the hardest divisions in the sport. There’s a weasel called Jorge Masvidal, accept the fight and let’s do it, you’re not on my level. Let’s make this fight happen, me and Jorge Masvidal,” Edwards proclaimed.
"I want one more fight before the end of the year, the little weasel Jorge Masdival, I’d love to get him, if not, give me the rematch against Kamaru Usman, he was the last guy to beat me four years ago and I’d love my rematch so let’s make it happen."
Edwards and Masvidal got into a physical altercation backstage at UFC London, where Masvidal threw on Edwards and drew blood. Of course, Edwards would also like to get another shot at welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, who holds a victory over him, but his attention is all-in on Masvidal, whom he would like to fight later this year.
Walt Harris continued his climb up the UFC heavyweight ranks with a stunning 12-second knockout of Aleksei Oleinik. Almost as soon as the fight started, Harris launched a flying knee that nailed Oleinik. He followed with a left straight that put Oleinik down and out.
"It feels amazing. I've been working my tail off for these moments," Harris said after the fight before calling for a spot on the UFC 242: Nurmagomedov vs. Poirier fight card on Sept. 7 in Abu Dhabi.
Controversial former NFL player Greg Hardy continued to stake his claim in the UFC heavyweight division by making quick work of Juan Adams on Saturday night.
The two big men traded jabs early, but Hardy struck the first big blow with a hard right hand. Adams shot a single-leg takedown, but Hardy stuffed it. Adams wouldn’t let go of the leg as they hit the canvas, so Hardy pummeled him with punches until the referee stepped in and stopped the fight at 25 seconds of the first round.
“Calling my name comes with consequences. Taking me down comes with consequences,” Hardy said after the fight.
The victory was his fifth in six professional fights, all coming by way of knockout. Hardy’s only defeat in the Octagon has come by way of disqualification.
New Zealander Dan Hooker was the first fighter to put a stamp on the night with his first-round knockout of Texas-born James Vick. Though Vick had been doing well to start off the fight, putting Hooker on the backfoot early with his striking, it was Hooker that landed the punch that put Vick on his backside. Hooker then hovered over Vick and rained down punches until the referee stopped the fight.
The first nine bouts of the UFC on ESPN 4 fight card all ended via a judges decision. Hometown favorite Alexander Hernandez earned a unanimous nod over Francisco Trinaldo, but humbly stated after the fight, “That fight could have went either way. I’m not afraid to admit it.”
Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovkski and Ben Rothwell opened the main card with a bloody affair with both main barely able to stand following their three-round heavyweight battle. Having gone winless in his last four fights, 40-year-old Arlovski earned a unanimous decision victory and proclaimed himself ready for whomever is next.
UFC on ESPN 4: Dos Anjos vs. Edwards Full Results
Leon Edwards def. Rafael dos Anjos by unanimous decision
Walt Harris def. Aleksei Oleinik by knockout (flying knee and punch) at 0:12, R1
Greg Hardy def. Juan Adams by TKO (punches) at 0:25, R1
Dan Hooker def. James Vick by knockout (punches) at 2:33, R1
Alexander Hernandez def. Francisco Trinaldo by unanimous decision
Andrei Arlovski def. Ben Rothwell by unanimous decision
Alex Caceres def. Steven Peterson by unanimous decision
Raquel Pennington def. Irene Aldana by split decision
Klidson Abreu def. Sam Alvey by unanimous decision
Jennifer Maia def. Roxanne Modafferi by unanimous decision
Ray Borg def. Gabriel Silva by unanimous decision
Mario Bautista def. Jin Soo Son by unanimous decision
Felipe Colares def. Domingo Pilarte by split decision