UFC 286 Full Card Predictions

UFC 286 Full Card Predictions


UFC 286 Full Card Predictions


Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

The UFC returns to London, England for the Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman trilogy fight and the rest of UFC 286. After Edwards’ knockout of the year over Kamaru Usman in their last meeting, Edwards is tasked with repeating history and successfully defending the welterweight championship. In the co-main event, Justin Gaethje returns after his loss to Charles Oliveira to try and halt the surging Rafael Fiziev. In this article, I’ll give my picks for every fight and analyze some of the best on the card. 


Main Event: Leon Edwards (20-3) (+200) vs Kamaru Usman (20-2) (-250)

Winner: Kamaru Usman by Decision or KO/TKO

The end of the trilogy is here! The new champion Leon Edwards has not lost a fight since his first with Usman over six years ago. Over that stretch of time, Edwards has taken down many formidable challenges such as Nate Diaz, Rafael Dos Anjos, Vicente Luque, etc. Obviously, his most impressive win was his incredible comeback to take the welterweight championship away. Usman is coming into this fight looking for revenge, as he and the rest of the world were shocked by the end result of that fight. If he can get his belt back, he will become a two-time champion and cement himself as one of the greatest UFC fighters of all-time. 

What Edwards did at the end of the last meeting between these two should not be taken away from him and neither should his showing in round one, but rounds two, three, and four can not be forgotten about. When Usman got Edwards onto his back, he was purely dominant. I expect with the outcome of the last fight on the feet, Usman will look to get the fight to the mat early and often. If he is successful with this strategy, I see no reason why he won’t be able to avenge his last loss and win a dominant decision. I will give Edwards his flowers though, as he does have the advantage on the feet and if Usman strays from the right game plan he could find himself knocked out again. 

Co-Main Event: Justin Gaethje (23-4) (+190) vs Rafael Fiziev (12-1) (-235)

Winner: Rafael Fiziev by KO/TKO or Decision

This co-main event is destined for fireworks and has fight of the night written all over it. After his loss to Charles Oliveira, Justin Gaethje begins a new journey back to a championship shot, and it starts with the red-hot Rafael Fiziev. Gaethje is one of the most entertaining fighters to ever step inside the octagon, and I expect this to be another classic fight. His opponent, Rafael Fiziev, lost his UFC debut but has been unstoppable ever since. Most recently, he defeated Rafael Dos Anjos and is looking to add Gaethje’s name to his long list of victims. 

I don’t expect to see much grappling in this fight as both fighters like to slug it out on the feet, but Fiziev’s technical advantages will be too much for Gaethje to overcome. Gaethje is a perfect opponent for someone like Michael Chandler who will stand in the pocket and trade haymakers, but Fiziev is not Chandler. Fiziev has great footwork and I expect him to move away from the haymakers of Gaethje and will use his sharp body work to wear down Gaethje. Eventually, I believe the combination of bodywork and accurate strikes to the head will earn Fiziev the knockout. 


Fight 13: Gunnar Nelson (18-5-1) (-380) vs Bryan Barberena (18-9) (+290) 

Winner: Gunnar Nelson by Submission or Decision

In the welterweight division, Gunnar Nelson returns for the first time in 11 months to take on Bryan Barberena. Nelson has been very inconsistent in his appearances in the octagon, as he only has fought five times over the last five and a half years. In those last five fights he has a record of 2-3, but his losses are to top contenders like the current champion Leon Edwards and Gilbert Burns. In his last fight back in March 2022, Nelson defeated Takashi Sato and is looking to start an ongoing win streak. The underdog, Barberena, was on a three-fight win streak before being submitted by Rafael Dos Anjos in his last fight. Now he is looking to rebound with a win over Nelson and get back to his climb towards the rankings. 

This is a classic grappler vs. striker fight, with Nelson being the grappler and Barberena being the striker. Unfortunately, for Barberena he is not someone who is great at defending against grapplers and thrives more in fights with other strikers. I don’t expect Nelson to try to stand and trade with Barberena and will try and get the fight to the ground as soon as possible. Once the fight hits the canvas, Nelson will go submission hunting, and it shouldn’t be too hard to find one after Barberena showed little to no submission defense in his last fight. I expect Nelson to find a submission at some point in the fight and come home with the victory.


Fight 12: Jennifer Maia (20-9-1) (+145) vs Casey O’Neil (9-0) (-175)

Winner: Casey O’Neil by Decision

The second fight on the main card features a bout between ranked women’s flyweight contenders Jennifer Maia and the undefeated Casey O’Neil. In her last fight, Maia was able to break her losing streak with a win over Maryna Moroz. Now she is trying to be the first to stop Casey O’Neil and move closer towards a top five ranking. It will be a tough test as O’Neil is undefeated in her MMA career, with three of her four wins being by finish. Whoever comes out on top will move closer to a coveted title shot. 

O’Neil may be one of my favorite picks on this entire card based on value alone. The only thing that I think Maia has on O’Neil is her experience. O’Neil is a very good striker and throws at a very high volume, and what makes that very dangerous is Maia’s poor striking defense. O’Neil should also be able to take down Maia with relative ease, as most of Maia’s opponents haven’t had much trouble getting her to the mat recently. I expect O’Neil to control this fight wherever it ends up and come home with a decision victory. 


Fight 11: Marvin Vettori (18-5-1) (-295) vs Roman Dolidze (12-1) (+237)

Winner: Marvin Vettori by Decision

The first fight on the main card is very interesting as the number nine ranked Roman Dolidze looks to extend his win streak to five and claim a top five ranking with a win over Marvin Vettorri. After defeating Kevin Holland, Vettori got his chance at gold against Israel Adesanya and was unsuccessful, but was able to defeat Paulo Costa his next time out. In his last fight he was given an opportunity against Robert Whittaker but did not end up winning and is now serving as the gatekeeper for Roman Dolidze. Dolidze has been incredibly successful recently as he is currently riding a four fight win streak with three wins by way of KO/TKO. In his most recent bout, Dolidze defeated Jack Hermansson by way of TKO and is now looking to prove he can be a top contender with a win over a former title challenger. 

On the feet, I give the advantage to Dolidze as he has proven he has immense power with the speed to match, but Vettori is a great defender. Along with his good defensive footwork, Vettori also has a granite chin. Vettori also has a decisive grappling advantage, and Dolidze does not possess the best takedown defense. I expect that Vettori will counter Dolidze’s aggressive striking with takedown attempts and rack up control time. I’m not sold on Vettori to win, but I will still take him to win by decision.


Fight 10: Jack Shore (16-1) (-530) vs Makwan Amirikhani (17-8) (+385)

Winner: Jack Shore


Fight Nine: Chris Duncan (9-1) (-115) vs Omar Morales (11-3) (-105)

Winner: Chris Duncan by KO/TKO or Decision


Fight Eight: Sam Patterson (10-1-1) (-280) vs Yanal Ashmouz (6-0) (+225)

Winner: Sam Patterson 


Fight Seven: Muhammad Mokaev (8-0) (-965) vs Jafel Filho (14-2) (+605)

Winner: Muhammad Mokaev by Submission or Decision


Fight Six: Lerone Murphy (11-0-1) (-180) vs Gabriel Santos (10-0) (+150)

Winner: Lerone Murphy by Decision or KO/TKO


Fight Five: Christian Leroy Duncan (7-0) (-230) vs Dusko Todorovic (12-3) (+185)

Winner: Christian Leroy Duncan by KO/TKO


Fight Four: Jake Hadley (9-1) (-415) vs Malcolm Gordon (14-6) (+315)

Winner: Jake Hadley 


Fight Three: Joanne Wood (15-8) (-180) vs Luana Carolina (8-3) (+150) 

Winner: Luana Carolina by Decision


Fight Two: Jai Herbert (12-4) (+165) vs Ludovit Klein (19-4) (-200)

Winner: Ludovit Klein by KO/TKO or Decision


Fight One: Veronica Hardy (6-4-1) (+345) vs Juliana Miller (3-1) (-470)

Winner: Juliana Miller


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