Former welterweight champion Kamaru Usman looks to reclaim the title as he challenges champion Leon Edwards at UFC 286. The event takes place at O2 Arena in London on Saturday (5 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV).
Edwards, ranked No. 7 on ESPN’s pound-for-pound list, defeated Usman by knockout to win the title in August at UFC 278. His last loss was to Usman in December 2015. Usman, No. 4 on the pound-for-pound rankings, holds the record for the longest win streak in UFC welterweight history (15).
In the co-main event, Justin Gaethje makes his return to the Octagon after nearly a year to face rising lightweight contender Rafael Fiziev.
Gaethje, ranked No. 5 in ESPN’s divisional rankings, lost to Charles Oliveira in a fight for the 155-pound title in his last appearance. Fiziev, ranked No. 7, is riding a six-fight win streak.
Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards are all knotted up at one apiece as they head into their third career bout. But it’s a fair question to wonder if Edwards’ knockout triumph will have any residual psychological effects in their third fight.
Usman scoffs at the notions.
“It’s warranted when you’re speaking about ordinary things and ordinary people,” Usman told media about the idea that the knockout may give his opponent a mental advantage Saturday. “… When a trauma like that happens, most people are gonna be disturbed about it. Yeah, that’s when you’re speaking about ordinary people. Leon Edwards and I both know that I am not ordinary. I am extraordinary.”
The mental aspect of this fight is going to be fascinating.
Before the loss, Usman was on track to be one of the greatest fighters of all time, and this rematch offers an opportunity to get right back on track. Much like Georges St-Pierre’s stunning knockout loss to Matt Serra, Usman will have the opportunity to mitigate the blemish on his roster with a dominant performance.
Of course, confidence is a dangerous thing in MMA, and Edwards will likely go into this fight more confident than ever. Even when things aren’t going his way, he is going to know that he has the ability to turn the fight with one strike because he has done it before.
Predictions in this fight are a signal of whether one consider Usman is among the greatest of all time. He has made the case and should be able to get his revenge in this one. Edwards landed a near-perfect kick last time, and that’s a hard method of victory to duplicate.