The UFC heads to London, England for a huge undisputed welterweight title fight between long time rivals Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman in their trilogy bout.
The 170 pound contest is a rematch from way back in December 2015 and August 2022, where Usman claimed a dominant decision win over the Brit before Edwards got a win back and won the title with a stunning fifth-round head kick knockout while being down on all the scorecards.
Edwards became just the second British fighter to become a UFC world champion but can he do it again against one of the greatest welterweights of all time? We'll break down the fight here and provide you with our best free UFC betting picks for the fight to see if we can earn you some extra cash.
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UFC 286 Information
- Saturday, March 18th, 2023
- O2 Arena, London, England
- Main card starts 12:00 ET
- Welterweight (170 pounds) championship bout
- 5 x 5 minute rounds
Leon Edwards vs Kamaru Usman
A long awaited rematch in the UFC welterweight division between the reigning, defending champion and one of the very best fighters in the world finally goes down at UFC 286.
Usman claimed the title back in March 2019 with a dominant victory over Tyron Woodley, before successful title defences against Colby Covington twice (one KO win, one decision), Jorge Masvidal twice (one KO win, one decision) and a knockout win over Gilbert Burns.
He was on a 19 fight win streak and was undefeated in the UFC before he ran into Edwards in Salt Lake City most recently, falling one win short of tying the all-time UFC record of consecutive victories. He has a professional record of 20-2 with nine knockouts, one submission and 10 decision wins.
Edwards suffered defeat to Usman back in 2015, but has since gone 11 fights unbeaten with a 10-0-1 record in that time. His most recent win prior to the title win came in a five-round affair against the legendary Nate Diaz, who he dominated for 25 minutes to claim a unanimous decision win.
This will be his first time defending his UFC championship. He has a professional record of 20-3-1 with seven knockouts, three submissions and 10 decision wins.
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Route to victory
This is an incredibly tight fight between two incredibly well-rounded fighters at the absolute peaks of their careers.
Usman has been known to be the best wrestler in the UFC across all weight divisions, with the only contender alongside him being the now-retired Khabib Nurmagomedov, but in recent years his striking game has evolved dramatically too.
"The Nigerian Nightmare" has now developed a striking game that allows him to stand with some of the division's best and even earn knockout wins, while relying on his wrestling as a back-up to fall on if necessary.
He may need that when he comes up against Edwards, who is the far more refined striker and is a fighter that has developed his ground game exponentially since his defeat to Usman back in 2015.
"Rocky" is a sublime kickboxer with lightning fast strikes and good power, as well as picture perfect technique and accuracy that lights his opponents on fire when they get within range of him.
But his wrestling has come on leaps and bounds since the first match between these two and his performance in their most recent fight saw him become the first man to officially score a takedown over Usman, dominating the early grappling exchanges before Usman took over with his wrestling.
And new UFC champion...
Despite all of that being said, it's hard to look past one of the most dominant fighters of his generation in a weight class that he has wiped out, against a fighter he has already handily beaten despite the result last time out.
While that first fight was a long time ago, there are still some things that ring true and did in the second fight between them. Usman is a far superior wrestler and if he can dictate where this fight takes place, then it will be incredibly difficult for Edwards to be able to gather momentum and launch his attacks.
Both men have developed brilliantly in the time since their first fight, but there is a big gap in quality between the opposition that they have fought. Usman has fought exclusively in title fights over the last three years, while Edwards has fought just two full fights since then plus his one round performance against Belal Muhammad and their second bout.
Usman saw the success he had in the first two fights with his wrestling against the cage and controlling Edwards on the mat, and he's likely to try and implement that as early as possible this time around rather than mixing in his striking.
Edwards will gain encouragement from the fact that he got the knockout so late on, and the fact that the fight isn't at altitude this time around should see him manage his cardio better too. But when one fighter can dictate where the fight takes place, it's hard to pick against them.
It was an amazing moment for Edwards to win the title and to get to defend it in his home country is great, but it'll be a short-lived title reign as Usman takes his crown back in London at UFC 286.
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