London’s O2 Arena has quickly become one of the UFC’s most electrifying venues. When current welterweight champion Leon Edwards stunned the mixed martial arts world with his last-minute headbutt KO against Kamaru Usman, it only made sense for England to defend the crown in front of their home crowd. UFC 286: Edwards vs. Usman 3 is scheduled for a robust 15 fights with the main card starting at 5pm ET. The early start time is always a welcome benefit of the London Cards and a nice change of pace for East Coast fans.
Edwards never appeared to be a threat to Usman for the first 39 minutes they spent in the Octagon. Usman easily made a three-round unanimous decision in 2015 and was just a minute away from sweeping the scorecards again. Then, out of nowhere, Edwards’ improbable headbutt changed everything in a matter of seconds. Or is it?
Despite being the welterweight champion of the world, Edwards enters the trilogy fight as a +200 underdog. The odds aren’t as great as the last meeting where Edwards closed just under 3-1, but it’s clear that bettors are pessimistic about the chances of a repeat of the champion.
Kamaru Usman (-250) vs. Leon Edwards (+200)
The residual impact of Usman’s KO is the determining factor in the fight. What’s driving bettors to the window is the million-dollar question of how Usman will react at age 36. I’ve seen enough Octagon time from these two to know that Usman has the tools to win rounds decisively and the cardio advantage to apply his five round wrestling. Are we seeing a new Leon Edwards? Does his career-defining win give him enough confidence to close the gap on Usman? It’s possible, but it also feels like a pretty big leap. As far as probability goes, Usman seems a lot more likely to tighten defensively and get back to his bread and butter here. That’s not to say Edwards isn’t a worthy champion or that his knockout should be remembered as a modern Matt Serra-Georges St Pierre moment, but I’m having a hard time seeing him defeat Usman again or gain enough minutes to taking him home is a decision. A much more methodical fighter after losing his title, St-Pierre used his wrestling to limit his damage vulnerability. I expect Usman will use a similar strategy to reclaim his title by claiming a win on Saturday.
Will the fight decide? (-175)
The uncertainty of betting on the psyche of a professional fighter can make bettors hesitant to choose between the two fighters. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no money to be made. Before the Usman-Edwards 2, many wondered if the second fight would be the same as the first encounter as Usman had improved his punching power significantly during his title run. It lasted 24 of the 25 minutes. Layer in this Usman will almost certainly enter the trilogy fight with a more conservative, defensive game plan focused on top position and control time, and there’s nothing to suggest another break. Edwards has only stopped two fighters by strikes in his last 14 UFC fights, Peter Sobotta five years ago and Seth Baczynski in 2015. There’s fantastic value to be had Kamaru Usman by decision at even money (+100), but if you’re in camp and don’t trust Usman with the knockout then it’s still a good play at this price point to go for the fight for the distance.
Source : sports.yahoo.com