Check back in on this post later on to see who won the UFC 286 co-main event, which is going down from the O2 Arena in London, England.
This post will cover tonight’s UFC’s welterweight title fight between the champion, Leon Edwards and the former champ, Kamaru Usman.
Honestly, Edwards scoring that miraculous come from behind head kick knockout to take the belt from Usman in their rematch was one the greatest MMA moments of all time. What’s interesting to see is how each man will respond to what happened that fateful night at UFC 278 back in August of last year.
Edwards has all of the tools to beat anyone on any given day, and now he knows it. This newfound confidence that ‘Rocky’ has been showcasing could very well translate into someone who is more willing to pull the trigger more often inside of the Octagon. I can’t prove this, but confidence might go further in fighting than in any other sport. This could be the start of the Leon Edwards era, but then again, one hard round on his back could also zap every ounce of that swagger.
Chins can’t come back better after a knockout loss, but fighters can. Usman made one big ass mistake when he was less than a minute from defeating Leon for the second time. Without that lone lapse in defense, we wouldn’t be having this trilogy bout in England.
Skill-wise it doesn’t feel like Kamaru has a bunch of things that he needs to fix in order beat Edwards, but how risk-adverse is he going to be? There were several moments in the second fight where Usman was tee’ing off with reckless boxing combos. Is that same sort of aggression on the feet going to be there tonight, or is Usman going to try to put even more emphasis on his grappling? I’m definitely excited to find out!
The early prelims begin at an extra start time of 12:30pm ET/9:30am, PT, immediately followed by the regular preliminary card. Both broadcasts can be streamed on ESPN+. The PPV main card is slated for 5:00pm ET/2:00pm PT, and can be purchased on ESPN+.
Leon Edwards def. Kamaru Usman by majority decision (48-46 x2, 47-47): Welterweight Title
Edwards looked light on his feet to get things going. Usman was slowly pressing forward, while Leon was using his footwork to maintain distance. The bulk of the volume came from the champ, with Kamaru’s output was on the lower side. Leon was cracking liver kicks from his southpaw stance, increasing Usman’s urgency to grapple. The referee called timeout to warn Edwards about sticking his fingers in the gloves of Usman, and then the match was restarted in the center.
We got an accidental cup check within the first minute of the second round, bringing about another brief pause. Edwards went back to the body kick, and Usman just wasn’t seeing it. In an exchange, a big knee from Edwards briefly staggered Usman. The former champ responded with a nice right of his own, followed by his first successful takedown. Rocky was quick to get up, just to botch a takedown of his own. back in open space, Edwards continued to dump his volume from range.
Usman blasted an early takedown in the third round, and then Edwards tried to get back to his feet by grabbing a handful of fence. The ref was all over it and deducted one point from Leon for the infraction. The match resumed in open space, and the fighters traded stiff jabs. Usman was pressing forward, and Edwards connected with another kick to the cup. The fouls were starting to add up. After a short break, Edwards returned to his body kick to try and back off his aggressor. He was also peppering the legs, with very few being checked.
Usman was pressing behind his boxing in the fourth round. Edwards managed to kick out the legs from under Kamaru, but failed to keep him on the ground for more than a moment. Then Usman then started to wrestle, but he wasn’t able to keep Edwards down for more than a second. Both men were simply refusing to concede the bottom position.
Edwards went for his head kick in the opening sequence of the final round, but Usman was ready for it. Kamaru tried to wrestle again, but again was denied. The champion started to let his strikes go again, tagging Usman with more kicks to the legs and body. Again Usman tried to wrestle, and again Leon shut him down.
AND STILL!!! LEON SILENCES THE DOUBTERS!!!! #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/kPEEGQChss— UFC (@ufc) March 19, 2023
2️⃣5️⃣ minutes in the books!— UFC (@ufc) March 19, 2023
Drop those scorecards NOW #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/zPXEkDIpEC
For the final time, we go into the Edwards corner before a HUGE Round 5.— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) March 18, 2023
Can @Leon_EdwardsMMA do it again? #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/AfWm2CWNE3
IT'S TIME ⚡ #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/HIFqlDnPNC— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 18, 2023
THIS SHIT IS PERSONAL #UFC286 pic.twitter.com/hPD7onEiIp— UFC (@ufc) March 18, 2023
About the author: Eddie Mercado has covered combat sports since 2015. He covers everything from betting odds to live events and fighter interviews. He holds a 1-0 record in pro MMA and holds a purple belt in Jiu-Jitsu. (full bio)