For a good amount of time, Kamaru Usman held the UFC welterweight title and the UFC’s top pound-for-pound spot. That all changed at UFC 278 last August with a single head kick from Leon Edwards in the final minute of the fight.
In one fell swoop, Usman’s aura of invincibility was gone. Now, he’s preparing to reclaim his title as he faces “Rocky” for a third time when they headline UFC 286 in London this weekend. Usman says he’s planning on reminding Edwards of his dominating moments, right before that kick landed.
“It’s going to be a little more difficult this time,” Usman said on the Pivot Podcast. “In his head, he forgot what happened four rounds before that. He’s like, ‘I landed the kick, I’m the champ! I’m good.’ But he forgot what happened.
“You forgot that I was taking your soul. So I have to remind him who he is: a guy that’s let somebody take your soul, twice. And I’m gonna take it in London.”
Usman and Edwards are 1-1, with Usman winning a decision in 2015, and Edwards winning by KO in 2022.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” did give props to Edwards’ finishing weapon while acknowledging what he may have done wrong which led to a career-changing outcome for both men.
“Of course, he has a head kick. I know a head kick is coming, blocked the head kick. I drill that, of course, drill it, repetition, repetition so I can see it in my sleep. So, of course, I trained for that.
“But it was just a good kick. It was something that I know that I did wrong… not necessarily wrong. Didn’t do as well. And it was just a beautiful kick. Hats off to him.”
Co-headlining UFC 286 is the return of former interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje, who is coming off nearly a yearlong layoff. He will face number six-ranked Rafael Fiziev, who is coming off a knockout win over former champion Rafael dos Anjos.
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About the author: Milan Ordoñez has been covering combat sports since 2012 and has been part of the Bloody Elbow staff since 2016. He’s also competed in amateur mixed martial arts and submission grappling tournaments. (full bio)