MMA Preview – Leon Edwards vs Kamaru Usman 3 at UFC 286
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LEON EDWARDS VS KAMARU USMAN FACTS
When is UFC 286? Saturday 18th March, 2023 - 19:00 (Prelims) 21:00 (PPV - £19.95)
Where is UFC 286? The O2 Arena, London (UK)
Where can I get tickets for UFC 286? Click here to buy tickets for UFC 286
What channel is UFC 286 on? BT Sport 1
Where can I stream UFC 286? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT Sport website
For viewers in the United States, the event will be shown live on ESPN+ and you can sign up for access as part of a Disney Bundle here!
LEON EDWARDS VS KAMARU USMAN LOWDOWN
The champ Leon Edwards (20-3(1)) headlines the 14th UFC card in London and the UK faithful get to see the first ever UFC title defence in the city. We all know what happened back in August when Edwards took on the pound-for-pound best and snapped the 19-fight win streak with a picture-perfect head kick 24 minutes into the fight. The Brummie avenged his loss back in 2015 which is his only loss in his last 14 bouts.
Kamaru Usman (20-2) had forgotten what it felt like to lose and certainly did not know what it felt like to get sparked out cold. He went into that fight after defending his title against the likes of Colby Covington (2019 and 2021), Jorge Masvidal (2020 and 2021) and Gilbert Burns (2021) to deservedly sit on top of the pound-for-pound podium. He has spent some time on the sidelines after getting surgery on his hand and now he flies over the pond with vengeance on his mind.
LEON EDWARDS VS KAMARU USMAN PREDICTION
The start of their second clash was intriguing with Usman getting taken down for the first time in his career losing the first round. However, the next three rounds were typical Usman, popping the jab and subduing Edwards in the clinch and taking him down to assume 10 minutes and 36 seconds of control time. He landed 83 significant strikes to Edwards’ 55 but the only one of those that mattered was the glorious head kick.
Usman probably felt Edwards’ wrestling was not as good as Covington’s and his striking was not as dangerous as Masvidal’s. Whether he got complacent or knew the fans would continue calling him a boring fighter, or whether Edwards’ set-up was just that good, his sixth title defence slipped through his hands.
You have to expect he will not make the same mistake here. His legacy is at stake and if he has to make this fight a snooze-fest, he will. So, Edwards not only needs to be drilling his takedown defence, but also practice on pulling a different rabbit out the hat.
An important factor in their last fight was that it was at altitude in Salt Lake City and Edwards has much better cardio than it appeared. His clinch, trips and sweeps are exceptional and Usman is going to have to work harder to gain any control this time around.
We expect Edwards to focus on his long-range striking and in particular his body and leg kicks. He will oblige in the clinch and time his sweeps while having that vicious elbow corked on the exit. We expected to see Usman’s missile straight-right hand more in the first meeting and after surgery, we would be very surprised if his game plan evolves around that. Instead, we expect Usman to close the distance and try and smother Edwards like a wet blanket.
At this point, they have seen everything they have to offer. So, we feel it will come down to the game plan on the night and there is no one better than Trevor Wittman and co to devise a match-winning strategy.
Usman needs an immaculate performance to grind out a decision and we feel he has a different motivation within him to make that happen. However, can you count at a prime Edwards on home soil after that perfect knockout?
Prediction: Usman via Decision - CLICK HERE FOR PARIMATCH'S WELCOME OFFER (BET £5, GET £30 IN BONUSES!)
Value bet: Edwards to win