The UFC returns to London, England for the first time in 2023, and in a big way. Headlining this Saturday night’s UFC 286 pay-per-view will be the third encounter between the hometown welterweight champion Edwards and his rival Usman. Their series is all tied up at 1-1 with Edwards last besting his adversary this past August with an all-timer comeback head kick knockout.
Usman first went ahead on the scoreboard in December 2015 against Edwards, winning a three-round unanimous decision. The five-round rematch was trending toward an identical result after a rocky opening frame ultimately led to a nightmarishly perfect shot from the U.K.’s finest. Therefore, Usman isn’t sold that he was bested by the better fighter in the rematch.
“Yes, you have a ton of tape,” Usman told Morning Kombat. “All these people or all these fighters have all this tape to watch and study and try to defeat you with what they’ve studied. If they’re able to do that, if they have the ability to study your tape and go out there and shut everything and do that, they’re the better fighter. They deserve to be champion anyways. You can’t stop it. If they have the ability to trump what they see on tape, they’re the better fighter anyways.
“Now, the problem is, you can watch as much tape as you want to. A lot of people can see me and say, ‘Oh, wow, he has a decent gas tank.’ But until you are locked in that cage with me and you actually feel that, you have no idea. This individual has felt it twice, and he has melted twice. He’s shown me nothing to let me believe he’s a better mixed martial artist than I am — besides one Hail Mary in the fifth round.”
Although Usman has fallen from his perch with just a second career loss in 22 bouts, it’s been more of a weight lifted than a lingering negative.
The former champion recalled how simpler life was before reaching the top of the mountain, going into LA Fitness gyms ahead of his first title shot with Tyron Woodley. Usman was able to just be “normal” and not be bothered by all the extra attention that wound up coming with being one of MMA’s biggest and best stars.
The 35-year-old Usman is still fully prepared to recapture the title this weekend, but his recent stretch without the belt hasn’t been the deep, dark hole that many may think it was.
“On the ride to the hospital that night, I was already over it,” Usman said of the loss. “When you feel that sense of relief, it’s just like all the expectations, all the this, and all of this ... You just hear it all quiet down.
“It makes the sport fun for me. The sport wasn’t necessarily as fun with all the noise. I love the position that I ascended to and I appreciate it because I know that’s what comes when you really put in the work like I did over the years. But it wasn’t necessarily as fun as the journey.”
Retort. Francis Ngannou responds to Jon Jones, Dana White: ‘I wanted that fight, but where was Jon Jones at the time?’
Boxing. Canelo Alvarez defends title against John Ryder in his first Mexico fight in more than a decade
Look at “Rocky” now.
The guide to Edwards’ head kick.
The first London show.
Bellator 292 recap.
Anatomy of UFC 286 Ep. 1.
Gaethje behind the curtain.
War Room: Edwards vs. Usman 3.
Heck of a Morning. MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck discusses where Kamaru Usman goes after UFC 286.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Instantly iconic duo.
Rampage Jackson and Bob Sapp in Thailand pic.twitter.com/rH3aVQ29Bi— Bloody Elbow (@BloodyElbow) March 14, 2023
Taking their time.
UFC-USADA test history update for March 13 — Conor McGregor still hasn't been tested this year (Just FYI — he could be back in the pool and just not tested yet)— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) March 14, 2023
Other notable test histories for 2023:
Jon Jones — 7 times
Kamaru Usman — 6 times
Leon Edwards — 2 times#UFC286
Thank you all for your support and kind words. An old injury resurfaced. This happened to me earlier while preparing for Rizin 28. God's plan is always better than ours. Alhamdulillah, I'll be back stronger.— Tofiq Musayev (@Tofiq__Musayev) March 14, 2023
Wholesome Kai and Merab.
Worth a try.
A wild McGregor appears.
Too much Sexy.
Hey guys working on a new secret project. Shoot me some questions you’re most interested in !— Robert Whittaker (@robwhittakermma) March 15, 2023
Tyrell Fortune (12-3, 1 NC) vs. Sergei Bilostennyi (10-2); Bellator 294, April 21
I very well may be wrongly counting out Usman, but I think everything is in Edward’s favor this third time around. Either way, I expect a great fight.
Yesterday’s poll got screwed up... please go back and vote again! Thanks as always for reading, friends.
Who wins this weekend?
This poll is closed