Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman 3 Early Preview

Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman 3 Early Preview

Fighting

Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman 3 Early Preview

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Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

On March 18, 2023, the UFC returns to London for UFC 286 which is headlined by one of the most highly anticipated re-matches in recent memory. Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman III, and their second time squaring-off against each other for the welterweight championship. The last time these two met it seemed like after four rounds, Usman was going to be retaining his belt and stay atop the pound-for-pound ladder. Then, lightning struck, and with it came the best UFC moment of 2022. Edwards landed one of the flushest head kicks of all-time, which shut off Usman’s lights immediately and earned Edwards the UFC welterweight championship. In this article, I will be giving a breakdown of each fighter along with my analysis and early prediction for the last fight in the trilogy.

Leon Edwards profile:

Leon Edwards shocked the world in the last fight against Kamaru Usman and extended his win streak to 10. Since May 2016, Edwards has 10 wins, zero losses, and one no contest, with many impressive wins. His last loss came against who else but Kamaru Usman in their first meeting all the way back in December 2015. Throughout his win streak though, Edwards has defeated the likes of Vicente Luque, Bryan Barberena, Donald Cerrone, Rafael dos Anjos, Nate Diaz, and others. Edwards has always been known for his excellent technical striking ability, but what he showed most recently was that his grappling shouldn’t be an afterthought. Edwards was the first to officially record a takedown on Usman and was able to control the round after taking control of Usman’s back. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Edwards use more fakes with his strikes to try and set up a takedown because once he had Usman down, he had no problem controlling him.

 

Kamaru Usman profile:

What is there to say about Kamaru Usman that hasn’t already been said? Since the retirement of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Usman was the most dominant force in the UFC and sat atop the pound-for-pound rankings for an extended period of time. Before his loss to Edwards, Usman was 15-0 in the UFC, and had five successful title defenses. After defeating Tyron Woodley at UFC 235, Usman defended the belt against Colby Covington twice, Jorge Masvidal twice, the second being by a destructive knockout, and a TKO win over Gilbert Burns. Like Edwards, Usman is known for one asset of his game, but in recent performances has shown what makes him a complete mixed martial artist. In a fight where people thought Masvidal stood a chance because of his striking ability, Usman eviscerated him with brutal punches, putting an end to the talk of his lack of high-level striking. In his last time out against Edwards, Usman went back to old faithful and dominated rounds two, three, four, and most of five with his elite wrestling, and it looked like it was going to pay off. Unfortunately for Usman, as time was expiring he was hit with a perfectly timed kick that ended his incredible run. If I were Usman, although I would be disappointed by the outcome, there were a lot of positive things to build off of and I would be going into this third fight with confidence I can get my belt back. 

 

Analysis:

In their first championship bout I predicted that Kamaru Usman would win the fight and up until the last minute I thought I was going to be right. Other than the first round, Usman did everything right, he got the fight to where he could control it and showed his superiority. Now I won’t say that the kick that Edwards landed was a fluke because it wasn’t. He used a beautiful fake to get Usman to duck his head into a perfectly timed head kick, but one moment, as great as it was, isn’t enough for me to forget how the rest of the fight went down. Unless Usman gets caught with another perfectly timed strike like how he did before, or if he is coming in with a lack of confidence he should be able to get his belt back. Usman should come out looking to get the fight to the ground as quickly as possible, wasting little energy on the feet. If he can take the fight to his world quickly and effectively Usman will return to being the welterweight king and spoil the night of the London crowd. 

 

Prediction: Kamaru Usman by Decision 

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