Leon Edwards wonders how much Kamaru Usman has changed after losing violently in his most recent fight.
For his sixth defense of the UFC welterweight championship, Usman fought Edwards at UFC 278 this past August. Similar to their first outing, the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ found success with his wrestling against ‘Rocky,’ who was on his way to a second loss to Usman. That was until Edwards threw a head kick that sent the ex-champion to the canvas in a heap with less than a minute remaining in their fight.
An immediate rematch was scheduled, and Edwards and Usman are expected to complete their trilogy at UFC 286 on Saturday. As he heads into his defense, the newly crowned UFC welterweight champion questions whether Usman is the same fighter, especially after returning so soon from his first KO loss.
“For him, the fight was going his way,” said Edwards to BT Sport. “What does he change? The way he fights — the way he fought me last [time] is the way he fights. I can’t see him in this space of five, six months now being a totally different fighter. I just can’t see it happening.
“Maybe [there will be] more heavy wrestling, holding me up against the cage and trying to stifle the striking part a bit more,” continued Edwards. “A knockout affects everyone different. He’s what now, 35, 36 years old? Coming off a knockout and fighting the same guy who’s just knocked him out, so let’s see how he comes back and how he reacts.”
Aside from having the momentum on his side, Edwards says there is another advantage he has against Usman - hometown advantage. The Team Renegade representative expects the crowd to give him a boost, so he feels confident in defeating Usman, again.
“This is my hometown show,” said Edwards. “I’ve never lost in the UK. I use the crowd as energy. I just can’t see how he goes out there and defeats me.”
UFC 286 goes down on Sat., March 18, at the O2 Arena in London, England.
About the author: Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016. (full bio)