Leon Edwards vs Kamaru Usman 3 Full Fight UFC 286 London Part I
- Posted on Mar 19, 2023
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Leon Edwards vs Kamaru Usman 3 UFC 286 Main Card Fight Video Part I
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On Saturday night in London, UFC welterweight gold is in jeopardy as Leon Edwards prepares to defend his belt against former champion Kamaru Usman for the first time.
At UFC 278 in August, Edwards defeated Usman by scoring a head-kick knockout with less than one minute to go in the championship round while trailing on all scorecards.
The third iteration of this competition will take place on Saturday's tilt( ESPN+ pay-per-view, with main event walkouts at about 6:55 p.m. ET). Usman won their first matchup, a three-round decision, in 2015.
I'll analyze and forecast the fight card headliner below and use those details to place bets on Edwards and Usman's main match in UFC 286.
I thought it would be a good exercise to compare and contrast my thoughts on this matchup then and going into UFC 286 since I had previously provided an exhaustive breakdown for this fight in August.
Usman still has the advantage of being able to fight behind his jab. Usman consistently outperforms Ewards by nearly two strikes per minute across all fights( and led 83-55 on total strikes, 46-42 on distance strikes at UFC 278) and averages more than a takedown attempt per round( completed five of 12 attempts). I also thought of him as the superior minute-winner occasionally.
The pair's distance striking is competitive. In just one round( 27 to 17 in Round 2), Usman out-landed Edwards at a distance, but he made up the difference in the clinch( 15 to 7 margin) and on the mat( 22 to 6), where Edward was under his control for more than 40% of the fight( 10:36 control time).
With the exception of that exchange, Edwards' takedown defense( career 68%) and counter- grappling paled in comparison to Usman's freestyle wrestling after he was officially knocked out in the first round.
I had anticipated Edwards to have a great deal of success in the clinch, which was possibly his strongest position against weaker opponents. However, after the first round, Usman's strength won out in those situations.
After being knocked out, I anticipate Usman to continue to wrestle and win the trilogy fight. He has a clear advantage if he can catch Edwards, from where it is also completely safe for him to do so.
However, he needs to watch out for Leon's elbows as the two leave the clinch because if Leon was knocked out the last time, I expected him to be clipped.
Additionally, I acknowledged that Usman had a clear cardio advantage the previous time. Aside from the fact that UFC 278 took place in Salt Lake City, at a high elevation, where fighters consistently faded in the third round, I wouldn't anticipate seeing that gap close significantly.
After a hot start, Edwards undoubtedly faded in the middle rounds, so perhaps fighting closer to sea level— as well as having support from his home crowd to give him an extra boost when he needed it— could help to close the cardio gap just enough to change things.
I also brought up Edwards' durability advantage prior to UFC 278, which is now even more obvious. It seemed as though Usman's chin would always be his Achilles' heel as he was rocked at various points during his title fights with Gilbert Burns and Colby Covington. Leon then dispatched him to the afterlife.
That happened just six months ago. I like to see fighters take at least a year off, if not more, after such an embarrassing knockout loss.
Usman's chin might never be the same and he might no longer be able to withstand harm.
And until they enter the cage, it is impossible to determine whether that is the case. Cody Garbrandt and Chris Weidman both immediately come to mind as former champions who were unbeaten in the UFC before suffering several knockout losses in a short period of time. This is speculation, but it is also an idea born out of pattern recognition.
Or Usman's final run might follow in the footsteps of Georges St-Pierre, who overcame a humiliating knockout loss to end his career with 13 wins and GOAT status.
Before facing Usman, Edwards was almost finished by Nate Diaz in the final moments of a resounding victory. I have more doubts about Usman's durability than I did before, but I'm still not convinced about Edwards' chin as a whole. Kamaru also hits as hard as any welterweight.
Even though he is the favorite, the former champion— whom many were speculating as the potential welterweight GOAT— is the subject of most of the question marks. just six months ago, before GSP.