Much of the speculation surrounding UFC 286’s main event between champion Leon Edwards and former champion Kamaru Usman on Saturday (5pm ET, ESPN + PPV) at the O2 Arena in London revolves around Usman’s mental state.
He was knocked unconscious by a perfectly prepared and executed headbutt by Edwards on August 20 at UFC 278 in Salt Lake City. This loss ended a 19-fight winning streak that spanned nine years and cost Usman not only the welterweight championship but also recognition as the top fighter in the world.
On Saturday they will do it again and settle the score in the rubber match. Usman won the first meeting between them in 2015, but Edwards achieved the more significant win when he defeated Usman at UFC 278.
Usman is a -250 favorite at BetMGM. 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.
Justin Gaethje, who this week dubbed himself the most exciting fighter in UFC history, and Rafael Fiziev, one of the sport’s elite forwards, will face off in a crucial lightweight bout in the co-main event.
Also on the main card is a welterweight bout between Gunnar Nelson and Bryan Barberena and a flyweight tilt with former title challenger Jennifer Maia and rising talent Casey O’Neill. Marvin Vettori and Roman Dolidze face off in a high profile middleweight bout to open the pay-per-view.
UFC 286 tips, predictions
Kevin Iola: Edwards is a world-class striker and can never be ignored, but Usman has the tools to defuse Edwards and pull off a win. I lay the 250 and bet Usman to win.
Markus drum lighter: 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 load. I expect Usman will use a similar strategy to reclaim his title by claiming a win on Saturday.
UFC 286 live tracker
UFC 286 Early Prelims Odds (Start Time 5pm ET, ESPN+)
Welterweight: Leon Edwards (+200) vs. Kamaru Usman (-250)
Lightweight: Justin Gaethje (+200) vs. Rafael Fiziev (-240)
Welterweight: Gunnar Nelson (-375) vs. Bryan Barberena (+295)
Flyweight Women: Jennifer Maia (+155) vs. Casey O’Neill (-185)
Middleweight: Marvin Vettori (-275) vs. Roman Dolidze (+225)
UFC 286 Prelims Odds (Start Time 3:00pm ET, ESPNews/ESPN+)
Featherweight: Jack Shore (-550) vs. Makwan Amirkhan (+400)
Lightweight: Chris Duncan (-115) vs. Omar Morales (-105)
Lightweight: Sam Patterson (-275) vs. Yanal Ashmoz (+225)
Flyweight: Muhammad Mokaev (-800) vs. Jafel Filho (+550)
UFC 286 Early Prelims, Odds (Live Now on ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass)
Featherweight: Lerone Murphy (-185) vs. Gabriel Santos (+155)
Middleweight: Christian Leroy Duncan (-225) vs. Dusko Todorovic (+185)
Flyweight: Jake Hadley (-450) vs. Malcolm Gordon (+340)
Flyweight Women: Joanne Wood (-175) vs. Luana Carolina (+145)
Lightweight: Jai Herbert vs. Ludovit Klein ends in majority tie (29-27, 28-28, 28-28)
Flyweight women: Veronica Hardy def. Juliana Miller by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Source : sports.yahoo.com