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Nisar Khan


Nisar is the founder, lead writer and CEO of SportingMatrix. He covers all sports from football to UFC and the Olympics. Nisar first started writing on his personal blog back in 2012 and has continued to cover sports ever since. You can find all of his posts below.


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UFC 286: Masterful Edwards asserts welterweight throne on home turf

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Image: Getty Images
There was no "headshot, dead!" this time round but it was a night Leon Edwards will never forget. Headlining a sold-out O2 Arena in the nation's capital, "Rocky" fended off Kamaru Usman over five rounds to truly establish himself as the welterweight king.

Edwards adopted a leg-kick heavy attack to diminish the movement of the former champion, while exhibiting outstanding takedown defence to deny the Nigerian's attempts to control him on the mat to make the first defence of the 170-pound crown.

The two welterweights had a lot to live up to following a thrilling supporting act in which Justin Gaethje bludgeoned Rafael Fiziev for the unanimous decision nod. 

Gunnar drowns "Bam Bam" with ease
Gunnar Nelson def. Bryan Barbarena via submission (armbar), round 1 (4:51)

London appears to be treating Gunnar Nelson quite well these days. The Icelandic submission supremo returned to the site of his most recent victory 12 months ago to dispatch Bryan Barbarena in the first round.

"Bam Bam" knew what was coming but could do nothing to stop it. Nelson closed him down and secured a double leg takedown from the fence, working from half-guard to side control and eventually mounting his opponent. Barbarena could only offer sporadic, fruitless shots from bottom before "Gunni" grabbed his arm and secured the armbar for a submission with a few seconds to spare in the first.

While on paper he was given a chance, Barbarena was dragged out of his depth by one of the best grapplers in the sport. Nelson knew exactly what he had to do to win and wasted no time in getting the job done. Having secured his first win since 2018 a year ago at the same venue, Nelson will now hope to string together some activity and cause some problems for the rest of the division. 

Gaethje plasters Fiziev's face in gory co-main 
Justin Gaethje def. Rafael Fiziev via majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)

As advertised and more, Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev delivered the fight of the night in a three-round classic that saw the American keep his opponent at bay and sustain his hopes for a future title shot.

"The Highlight" cracked Fiziev's calf with a low kick early while Fiziev came back with a solid body kick and a low kick after making some reads. The Azerbaijani fighter had the speed advantage, landing a knee up the middle and a hard overhand right that was shrugged off by the American. Gaethje did warm up towards the end of the first stanza, landing a hard overhand of his own and swinging wildly with some hooks.

Fiziev landed some good body attacks and was able to get attacks off in close quarters but was soon sporting the first significant damage from the contest when an overhand caused a big cut under his left eye. Fiziev was still stringing together combinations however Gaethje would either cover up or eat the shots and then come back with a powerful combination of his own. Fiziev's face was covered in crimson come the end of a second round as Gaethje began to unload.

It appeared to be one apiece going into the third round and it was Gaethje who ultimately pulled ahead to take the fight on the scorecards. After Fiziev landed a solid right hand that appeared to momentarily stun the former interim champion, Gaethje went for a takedown that was stuffed and followed it up with a combination. Gaethje began to get behind his jab which couldn't miss, further bloodying the face of his opponent, before finding the mark with uppercuts also. Fiziev walked forward like a zombie as Gaaethje continued to dish out the punishment, punctuating his performance by landing a takedown in the final 10 seconds.

"Rocky" defends home turf 
Leon Edwards def. Kamaru Usman via majority decision (48-46, 48-46, 47-47)

Leon Edwards put the debate to rest asserting himself as the top dog at welterweight, getting the better of Kamaru Usman over five dramatic rounds in the main event.

"Rocky" set off on the right foot by chipping away at the right leg of the Nigerina. He applied plenty of lateral movement on the outer ring of the cage, switching stances to give the challenger different looks. Usman tried to pin down his foe but was unable to have much luck barring a right hook that grazed Edwards on the exit. The body kicks from the southpaw stance of the Birmingham man were equipped early as he slammed his shin bone towards the midriff of the former champion, with one taking him off his feet momentarily. The first takedown attempt from Usman came late in the first and was rebutted albeit due to a glove grab from Edwards that prompted a stern warning from referee Herb Dean.

The veteran referee was called into action early in the second when Edwards appealed due to Usman advancing before a body kick strayed towards the groin forcing a timeout. In the thick of the second round action, Edwards continued to bank the leg kicks and briefly wobbled the challenger with a knee in the clinch. The Nigerian came back strongly and buzzed the champion with a hard straight right hand and took him down immediately after, unable to sustain any offence in the back mount position. Edwards recovered but would go for a takedown of his own to perhaps recover in which was sprawled. The first head kick came towards the end of the second round but Usman was able to cover up for it. Nonetheless damage was being inflicted by Edwards with more body and leg kicks, and a lovely pull counter left hand.

Usman was able to secure a takedown early in the third stanza only for Edwards to re-establish his base. With Usman still locked around the hips of the champion, he attempted to drag him to the canvas only for "Rocky" to grab the chainlink and stay on his feet, prompting a point deduction from the referee changing the complexion of the contest. A stiff jab followed from Usman who got closer in the third round and showed more aggression, albeit while continuing to eat kicks (and another one to the groin). Leon's defence wouldn't fade though as he once again fended off a takedown at the end of the third.

It was well poised as the championship rounds began with Edwards continuing to ooze calmness and confidence in his rhythm while Usman was beginning to show more urgency, landing a good right hook. Usman briefly lost his balance when both men went for a kick at the same time and shot for a takedown in the subsequent scramble but Edwards was able to get back to his feet and rattle off a left hook in response.

As the fifth round kicked off the consensus was that Edwards was in control however with the point deduction and closeness of the fight everything was up in the air, making for a thrilling finale. Two high kicks were attempted from Edwards and deflected, in addition to a few uppercuts and great shots in the clinch. Usman, breathing heavily - a rare sight considering the patented cardio of the former champion - landed some decent punches of his own and tried to mix in takedowns after the combinations to no avail. Even the times he did get the takedown, he was unable to sustain control as Edwards popped back to his feet. The fight finished with both men trading shots in the centre of the cage as London's O2 Arena crowd went berserk, with the final bell all but suggesting that their champion had kept the belt on home soil.

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SportingMatrix • We Live For Sport: UFC 286: Masterful Edwards asserts welterweight throne on home turf
UFC 286: Masterful Edwards asserts welterweight throne on home turf
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SportingMatrix • We Live For Sport
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