The UFC returned to London on Saturday for UFC 286, finally delivering on having an English champion defend their title in the British capital.
Michael Bisping got to defend his middleweight title in Manchester, and on Saturday night at the O2 Arena, Leon Edwards would look to do the same in London. The fight had a bigger feel to it thanks to the history between the pair; first meeting in 2015, Kamaru Usman had won a three-round decision over Leon “Rocky” Edwards.
Neither man would lose again until a second fight in August of 2022, a fight that saw Usman comfortably ahead on the scorecards until Edwards put him away with a head kick in the final minute of the fight. A true “Rocky” story if there ever was one.
The rubber match now arrives Saturday, with Usman looking to prove the loss was an aberration — while Edwards aims to underscore that even on his worst night, he was able to beat “The Nigerian Nightmare,” and could again.
In the co-feature, surging lightweight Rafael Fiziev looks to crack the top five of the weight class against former interim champ and two-time title challenger Justin Gaethje. The winner would be poised to jump straight into title contention, though Charles Oliveira vs. Beneil Dariush, going down in May, would potentially produce the next challenger for Islam Makhachev to face.
Our picks our in, our staff have given their take — here’s how we see UFC 286 playing out!
UFC 286’s main card opens with middleweight action, featuring former title challenger Marvin Vettori facing surging Georgian Roman Dolidze. Vettori has essentially lost only to the best, while representing the toughest test yet for Dolidze. Still, of nine writers responding, five sided with Dolidze in a very close call.
Casey O’Neill is a larger favorite to win her fight against ex-flyweight title challenger Jennifer Maia. Seven of nine staff members see “King” Casey taking one step closer to the throne. Gunnar Nelson is likewise a sizable favorite in his welterweight fight with Bryan Barberena, also taking the vote with seven of our writers.
Perhaps the biggest surprise, former interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje is a slight dog in his fight with Rafael Fiziev.
In the main event, our crew does not see Leon Edwards hanging onto his crown — despite fighting at home, all but two of our writers see Kamaru Usman retaking the welterweight title.
Leave A Comment
You must be logged in to post a comment.