Leon Edwards proved his mettle against one of the toughest fighters in the welterweight division at UFC on ESPN+ 5 on Saturday in London, taking the nod over Gunnar Nelson.
On a six-fight winning streak coming into the bout with Nelson, Edwards felt slighted that he wasn’t lined up opposite countryman Darren Till in the main event. He looked good against Nelson and then again called for a move to the top of the division.
Following the usual feeling out process, Nelson closed the gap and put Edwards on the fence and worked to get him on the ground. Edwards kicked him off and quickly got up, but Nelson immediately tied up his legs and returned Edwards to the canvas.
Edwards worked up to his feet, reversed position, and then picked Nelson up and planted him on the canvas. He spent much of the rest of the opening round in control from Nelson’s back in a kneeling position, landing some pot shots from behind.
The second frame was where the fight was won by Edwards.
Nelson kept closing the gap, trying to get Edwards back on the mat, but every time he failed to get Edwards down, he ate a couple short shots.
Late in the second, Nelson shot and Edwards got a half clinch around his neck, pulling Nelson into a hard shot elbow and then tossed him to the canvas. Edwards followed the Icelander down, dropping punches and hammerfists on him, only to run out of time before he could finish the fight.
Nelson knew his back was against the wall in the final frame and fought like it, trying at every turn to put Edwards back on the ground. He ate several more elbows for his trouble, but eventually got the takedown for which he was searching.
Nelson immediately followed by moving to full mount, dropping punches on Edwards for the final minute of the fight, but unable to find an opening to pull the victory away from him.
Two of the judges scored the bout in Edwards’ favor, one at 29-28 and the other 29-27, while a third judge scored it 29-28 in favor of Nelson.
Edwards made no secret of his future plans.
“I’m on a seven-fight win streak now in the hardest division in the sport. I want the winner of the (UFC London) main event; that’s my fight. I don’t know why they got Ben Askren here. I should be Top 5 now,” he told Dan Hardy.
“I’m a great striker. I’m a great grappler. I’m 27 years old and I’m still learning. I want that rematch with (lightweight champion Kamaru) Usman somewhere down the line, that’s what I really want.”