UFC 286: Edwards vs. Usman Main Event Prediction
UFC 286: EDWARDS VS. USMAN MAIN EVENT PREDICTION – Usually the momentum in trilogy fights is with the fighter who won their second meeting, but this weekend the winner still comes in as a +200 underdog.
Welterweight champion, Leon Edwards, will attempt to silence the doubters who are calling his title-winning effort back at UFC 278 a fluke.
Former welterweight king, Kamaru Usman, looks to reclaim the gold that was once his and return to the top of the heap.
Can Edwards cement himself as the welterweight champion? Or will Usman prove that the last fight was a minor slip up and once again sit on the 170lb throne? Read on for how these two match up and who you should be backing with your money.
It feels like Edwards was shouting from the rooftops for a title shot for a long time. It was hard to deny him considering his last loss came at the hands of the champion. He had also gone on a 10-fight winning streak spanning over 6 years.
When the opportunity came knocking, he pulled victory out of the fire in a fight that he was likely going to lose by decision in a minute’s time. A beautiful jab to high kick combination landed on the money and sent the former welterweight king tumbling.
Strength in Striking
Edwards is a very well-rounded mixed martial artist, but his strength is his striking. He throws in solid combinations, always remains balanced, and shows great footwork.
His grappling is often overlooked, but he is very confident in his ability to land takedowns and have good control from on top. He surprised many when he opted to take high level BJJ black belts Gunnar Nelson and Rafael dos Anjos to the mat in the opening round of their fights.
Edwards is also the only fighter to ever record a takedown against Kamaru Usman. He uses all aspects of martial arts to win his fights, but it’s obvious his striking is the strongest part of his game.
With his sixth title defense and the chance to tie Anderson Silva’s record for most consecutive UFC wins (16) within reach, Usman fell just a minute short at UFC 278.
I’ve widely regarded Usman as the best active fighter in the world during his run and he would show why after each performance. He only lost his second ever professional MMA bout then went undefeated for just under nine years.
He showed a better version of himself each time out, especially in the striking realm which culminated in his highlight reel knockout over Jorge Masvidal, something no fighter had ever been able to do to Masvidal before.
Fast Pace Fighter
Usman’s combination of wrestling, cardio, and setting a high pace has drowned opponents in the past. No one came close to him in those realms other than Colby Covington and even he was too much for Covington in their two meetings.
We saw Merab Dvalishvili showcase a similar style last weekend. If Usman goes back to his roots this weekend, we could see a similar performance. Maybe not 40+ takedown attempts, but takedowns, pressure, and solid top control.
Can Usman Rebound?
It will be interesting to see how Usman rebounds from his first UFC loss. Former welterweight great, Georges St. Pierre, rebounded with two big wins before he rematched Matt Serra. Anderson Silva unfortunately broke his leg in his rematch with Chris Weidman.
That is some elite company to compare Usman, but he would’ve been talked about amongst those names if he remained undefeated in the UFC to end his career. I think it is still possible for him to achieve that status if he can put together another couple victories while ending his career as the champion.
It’s hard to overlook the dominance Usman has enjoyed in the 39-ish minutes that he’s seen against Edwards. His dominant wrestling style, cardio, and pace was difficult for Edwards to keep up with.
It will be easier for Usman to shore up the mistakes he made in their last meeting; whereas, Edwards still has to drill his takedown defense and get ups. I’m certain he did his best in the first two meetings in preparation for those fights. The the last fight showed that it doesn’t matter how much he tries to improve, he will always get stuck under Usman.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Usman go the boring route here and have a fight similar to the first Jorge Masvidal fight. Usman could cage-push for 90% of the fight, impose his will, and land enough damaging blows for the judges to see it in his favor.
Some may not be comfortable taking the chalk on a fighter that just got knocked out in his last fight against the same opponent he faces this weekend, but there are few fighters that deserve exceptions.
We made an exception for Tatiana Suarez a couple weeks back coming back from an extensive lay-off due to injuries. We made an exception for Jon Jones at the beginning of the month, we now make another exception this weekend for Kamaru Usman.