MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC 286, a five-round UFC welterweight title bout between champion Leon Edwards and former champ Kamaru Usman. The event takes place on Saturday, March 18 at The O2 Arena in London, England.
Kamaru Usman (-240)
Usman (20-2) is the former UFC welterweight champion. With a 15-1 record in the Octagon, the 35-year-old Nigerian is one of the sport’s all-time greatest fighters. He has beaten the likes of Jorge Masvidal, Colby Covington, Gilbert Burns, and Rafael dos Anjos, not to mention he has a previous win over Edwards. He is the best wrestler in the welterweight division, has unlimited cardio, and he has power in his hands. Overall, he is one of the most well-rounded MMA fighters we’ve ever seen.
Leon Edwards (+200)
Edwards (20-3, 1 NC) is the UFC welterweight champion. The 31-year-old Brit has had a tremendous UFC career overall, beating the likes of Usman, Nate Diaz, dos Anjos, Donald Cerrone, and Bryan Barberena over the years. He is a terrific striker and we have seen him score some blistering knockouts over the years. We’ve also seen that he has solid grappling skills and excellent cardio. He is one of the best welterweights in the world and he proved it when he won the belt. However, watching that fight back again, he was pretty close to losing if not for landing a last-minute head kick. Good for Edwards for getting the job done, but will he be able to pull off another upset?
Fight Breakdown: I think this fight is going to play out similarly to the second fight between these two, only this time, Usman gets his hand raised. Although it was amazing to witness the head-kick KO by Edwards, the fact is he was about a minute away from losing a clear decision in that fight. Usman’s wrestling was a major problem for him, and I doubt Edwards can clean up his takedown defense enough in the last seven months to make a difference. Edwards is certainly a great fighter in his own right, and he proved it by winning the championship, but his takedown defense is not elite, and Usman can exploit it. Barring another Hail Mary, look for Usman to win the decision this time around and get his belt back. Then, it will be interesting to see who he will fight next time.
Prediction: Kamaru Usman via decision