UFC 286 predictions

Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman are about to resolve one among the extra difficult trilogies in fight sports.

When Edwards and Usman clash in Saturday’s UFC 286 critical occasion, this could well admire been over seven years since their first battle, a not ceaselessly ever talked about unanimous determination make a selection for Usman that marked the starting of his UFC occupation in earnest. This could well presumably entirely admire been seven months since Edwards ended Usman’s impossible welterweight title reign with a fifth-round head kick that not a soul could well presumably admire viewed coming.

It took nine wins for Edwards to fabricate his case for a 2nd battle with Usman, a stretch of success that used to be dwarfed by Usman’s championship bustle that established him as, at worst, the 2nd-entirely welterweight in UFC historic past. Edwards’ upset despatched Usman tumbling down the MMA Battling Pound-for-Pound chart, nonetheless will that make a selection entirely be remembered as a blip in Usman’s story if “The Nigerian Nightmare” bounces aid and wins the sequence? Is Edwards poised to herald the next generation of the embellished welterweight division or will it return to web online page quo?

The co-critical occasion has its elegant part of questions as nicely, nonetheless the glorious one is “my goodness how freaking impossible is this matchup?” That’s honest correct, Rafael Fiziev is getting his shot at a top 5 opponent and it’s arguably primarily the most fun doubtless chance: The inimitable Justin Gaethje.

Gaethje has twice challenged for the undisputed UFC lightweight title and held on to a top web online page in the rankings seemingly eternally, so here is Fiziev’s likelihood to in actuality shake up the division. All he has to live is make a selection a striking battle with one among the scariest punchers to ever step into the octagon.

In other critical card action, Gunnar Nelson takes on Bryan Barberena in a battle of welterweight veterans, one-time flyweight title challenger appears to be like to be to protect her ranking against the returning Casey O’Neill, and Marvin Vettori locations his inhuman sturdiness up against the sizzling Roman Dolidze.

What: UFC 286

The put: The O2 in London

When: Saturday, March 18. The card begins with a six-battle early prelims piece on ESPN+ at 1 p.m. ET, with continuing coverage of the four-battle prelim card on ESPNews and ESPN+ starting at 3 p.m. ET. The 5-battle critical card begins at 5 p.m. ET and is available exclusively on ESPN+ pay-per-stare.

(Numbers in parentheses reward standing in MMA Battling’s Global Rankings)

Leon Edwards (1) vs. Kamaru Usman (2)

All of us noticed the equivalent thing at UFC 278.

Leon Edwards vastly stunned Kamaru Usman with a takedown in the first round. Usman recovered and used to be in championship develop for the next three rounds, racking up 10-9s across the board on the scorecards. He used to be on his design to a determination make a selection and a sixth consecutive a success title defense until Edwards kicked him hard in the head. These are the info.

Objectively talking, we now admire got a form of evidence that Usman is the next fighter than Edwards. Subjectively talking, the Edwards vibes are thru the roof and that’s why I’m deciding on to stare the 2nd battle as a changing of the guard. That’s honest correct, I’ve got Edwards taking this one.

Usman has had colossal success coming forward and inserting stress on Edwards, one thing he’s carried out in several of his standout performances. I take into the narrative that Edwards didn’t adjust nicely to the altitude in their first battle, which took location in Salt Lake Metropolis, and that the dwelling cooking in London will present a vital enhance to his efficiency. It’s the little issues that could well fabricate the entire distinction in an elite matchup esteem this.

Edwards’ takedown defense will furthermore need to be on level, which isn’t that unprecedented of a advise giving the strides that Edwards has made with his wrestling since he first fought Usman in 2015. I’ll be vastly stunned if Usman manages to ground Edwards for 25 minutes.

The glorious X factor need to be Edwards’ self perception. No longer elegant the boldness that comes with being a shimmering fighter — that undoubtedly used to be never in doubt — nonetheless the boldness in shining that if he lets his hands (and toes) glide, he can damage Usman. That miraculous knockout needed to admire modified Edwards’ mind put of abode entirely and erased any doubt that he must be the aggressor on this third battle.

Edwards received’t be pronounce to let the action advance to him, he’ll assault with force, work his design to a determination victory, and silence any doubts as to who’s the entirely welterweight in the enviornment at this time time.

Steal: Edwards

Justin Gaethje (5) vs. Rafael Fiziev (6)

One thing has got to supply with Justin Gaethje in the end. Is Rafael Fiziev the actual person to fabricate “The Highlight” seek human? He has the tools for it.

Fiziev is an authority and controlling range, a foremost skill to admire when Gaethje is bearing down on you with those ham-hock fists of his. We know Gaethje can bag hit too and though he’s able to competent defense, it’s his granite chin and iron will which admire carried him thru some of MMA’s most memorable brawls. He can’t be beat blow-for-blow and Fiziev wisely received’t strive to live that.

The put Fiziev will bustle into grief is when Gaethje starts mixing up his body work and leg kicks. I in actuality admire issues about Fiziev’s defense too, so if it comes the overall manner down to who’s going to fracture first, I will gape Gaethje chopping him down thru the first half of of the battle sooner than pouring on the stress in Round 3.

Then the fun in actuality starts. With Gaethje cooking, Fiziev would possibly be tested esteem he never has sooner than and I seek files from him to acknowledge to in model, catching Gaethje with a counter and then landing the develop of spectacular strike that entirely he can to send Gaethje to a moderately knockout loss.

Steal: Fiziev

Gunnar Nelson vs. Bryan Barberena

There are paths to victory here for Bryan Barberena, nonetheless none of them are namely convincing.

Barberena is as not easy as they advance and his punching energy is rarely any shaggy dog story. Then again, he’s never been known to be a one-shot finisher and that’s an discipline when going thru Nelson, an evasive striker who not ceaselessly ever wades carelessly into hazard. He’ll frustrate Barberena into making the first switch.

As fun as it’s to hunt Barberena elegant birth up throwing hands, it’s unlikely he’ll get unprecedented success against Nelson, who will take care of him to the mat as rapidly as doubtless. Barberena’s takedown defense is downhearted and his submission defense will entirely final for see you later as Nelson wears him down.

Nelson by submission is the grisly bag here and I’m going with Nelson discovering the fabricate in Round 2.

Steal: Nelson

Jennifer Maia (11) vs. Casey O’Neill (13)

Stress, stress, stress.

Stress on Jennifer Maia to sigh that she’s easy a top 10 flyweight. The 13-year conventional has struggled against the entirely of the entirely at 125 pounds if she’s to abet a bunch next to her establish she’s going to need to fend off one among the division’s hungriest challengers.

Stress on Casey O’Neill to suppose that she’s the chief of the next generation of flyweight challengers, not Erin Blanchfield or Manon Fiorot. MMA Battling’s 2021 Rookie of the 300 and sixty five days has been out of action since February of final year as she recovered from a torn ACL and there’s no guarantee that the 25-year-worn will proper away return to develop when she makes her return Saturday.

Stress is the establish of the game for O’Neill to make a selection here and proceed her climb to the pinnacle. O’Neill prides herself on her relentless waddle and if she brings that to the cage tonight, this could well be extra than Maia can take care of. Maia could well presumably exercise her grappling to slack this one down and force O’Neill to suppose that she can adapt while coming off of an damage, nonetheless O’Neill has an athleticism edge that can bail her out of any grief on the mat.

I’m absolutely confident that O’Neill takes a determination in her toughest check to this level.

Steal: O’Neill

Marvin Vettori (5) vs. Roman Dolidze (14)

Roman Dolidze has been on a heck of a bustle with four straight wins and three straight finishes. There’s one immense mission though: I’m undecided Marvin Vettori can be executed.

“The Italian Dream” could well very nicely be the UFC’s leading zombie for the time being (apologies to Chan Sung Jung) as he’s proven that he can admire photography from the entirely middleweights in the enviornment and abet on coming forward. That’s not the entirely system for winning fights, nonetheless it undoubtedly procedure that Vettori isn’t out of it as long as there’s time on the clock.

In Dolidze’s settle on is the reality that Vettori isn’t exactly a finishing machine himself, with elegant a pair of submission victories to his establish since making his UFC debut in 2016. If Dolidze doesn’t ranking one thing spectacular, this normally is a traditional grind-it-out make a selection for Vettori.

I picked against Dolidze all the easiest design thru all of 2022 and he shut me and a very good deal of of others up immense time, coming thru as an underdog in all three of his fights final year. He’ll need to live that again if he hopes to birth out up 2023 by asserting himself as a top 10 contender.

Vettori is classy too not easy for Dolidze to position away, so I in actuality need to glide at the side of Vettori on aspects. But don’t be vastly stunned if Dolidze proves me homely again.

Steal: Vettori


Jack Shore def. Makwan Amirkhani

Chris Duncan def. Omar Morales

Sam Patterson def. Yanal Ashmoz

Muhammad Mokaev (12) def. Jafel Filho

Lerone Murphy def. Gabriel Santos

Christian Leroy Duncan def. Dusko Todorovic

Jake Hadley def. Malcolm Gordon

Joanne Wood def. Luana Carolina

Jai Herbert def. Ludovit Klein

Juliana Miller def. Veronica Hardy

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