The time has finally come and we are about to witness another historic fight at the height of another UFC Pay-Per-View card. UFC 286: Edwards vs. Usman 3 will conclude with a trilogy fight following an impossible comeback over one of the division’s greatest all-time fighters. The new UFC Welterweight Champion Leon “Rocky” Edwards will defend his strap for the first time as No.1-ranked contender, former P4P No.1, and former champion Kamaru Usman fights to earn his belt back. It’s a historic trilogy you won’t want to miss! Check out our UFC odds series for our Edwards-Usman 3 prediction and pick.
Leon Edwards in 20-3 in his career and has gone 12-2 in the UFC. He has one of the UFC’s highest active win streaks at 10 fights, with his last loss coming to Kamaru Usman in 2015. He’s been on a historic run that he capped off with an improbable last-minute headkick knockout of Kamaru Usman in their last fight to win the Welterweight belt. Fighting in front of his home of England, Edwards will have the confidence of a champion knowing he can put this rivalry to rest by winning the rubber match. He’ll be the slight underdog given the circumstances of their last meeting. Leon Edwards stands 6’2″ and has a 74-inch reach.
Kamaru Usman is 20-2 in his fighting career and has gone 15-1 in the UFC. He has the second-highest number of consecutive wins in UFC history at 14 fights in welterweight. He is often regarded as the greatest of all time at 170 and has been one of the most dominant fighters the UFC has seen. Usman was one minute away from retaining his title and winning his 15th consecutive fight before falling victim to one of the most perfect head kicks we’ve seen in the octagon. For the vast majority of that fight, however, Usman was winning by a substantial margin and clearly breaking the spirit of Edwards. His hope is that he can replicate his dominance and limit making a crucial mistake that cost him last fight. Kamaru Usman stands 6’0″ with a 76-inch reach.
Here are the UFC Odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
UFC 286 Odds: Leon Edwards-Kamaru Usman 3 Odds
Leon Edwards: +196
Kamaru Usman: -260
Will the Fight Go the Distance? YES: -156
Will the Fight Go the Distance? NO: +122
How to Watch Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman 3
TV: UFC PPV
Stream: ESPN+ UFC PPV
Time: 5:00 p.m. ET/ 2:00 p.m. PT (Main Card)
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Why Leon Edwards Will Win
The main feedback from Leon Edwards’ camp is that he was the same skilled fighter but this time, with the confidence of a champion. Beating Kamaru Usman and getting over that mental hump of winning a belt has shown to be a massive confidence boost for Edwards and he’ll be carrying it with him into this fight. Fighting at home in front of the English crowd will also be a big boost as Edwards has prided himself on training in his home England. Knowing he has the ability to not just win, but also finish Usman will be the biggest factor in Edwards’ energy heading into this fight.
The elephant in the room for Edwards remains rounds 2-5 of the first championship fight. Leon Edwards came out strong with his striking, took Usman down for the first time in his career, and threatened with back control to win the first round. There’s no question that if he can sustain that fighting for the entire fight, he’ll be able to beat Usman in a decision. However, Usman wore on Edwards a great deal for the remainder of that fight. Leon Edwards was all but broken heading into the final round as his gas tank wore against the pressure of Usman, getting hit with big combinations down the stretch. Had it not been for the inspired work of his corner, Edwards would have never found that kick in the final minute.
Edwards will have a clear game plan in this fight. He was too focused on stopping the wrestling in the last fight that he underestimated to prolonged striking attack of Usman. In this one, Edwards will have the confidence knowing he can hold his own on the ground, but will have to avoid falling into the suffocating game of Usman that he experience in the last fight. Look for Edwards to come out aggressive with his striking. If he can hurt Kamaru to the legs and compromise the takedowns, he’ll have the chance to land bigger shots on Usman’s chin.
Why Kamaru Usman Will Win
Many fans worried about the willingness of Kamaru Usman to get back into action so shortly after a devastating knockout, but the former champion feels as though he was fighting the perfect fight and made a singular mistake that cost him everything. He’s fully aware that this is how the fight game goes and is very hungry to become the challenger once again in his career. Usman has the confidence knowing he handled Edwards in their first meeting, and he’s very confident in knowing how the last fight went given the circumstances.
Trevor Wittman has been working closely with Usman and building a strong camp around him and teammate Justin Gaethje. When the two are training for respective fights together, they bright out an extra toughness in the sparring that Wittman loves to see from his fighters before a title challenge. Their camp will continue to build upon the things that made them successful in the first championship fight. The wrestling of Kamaru Usman will certainly be a heavy factor in this one. While he saw success in the striking his last time out, it was his tendency to stay standing at the end of the fight that ultimately got him knocked out. If his body allows for it, look for Usman to chase takedowns relentlessly.
The biggest question for Usman will continue to be his knees and age. He’s had a lifetime of wrestling and his time in the UFC has accelerated the deterioration of his knees. There’s stories that he has to walk backwards down stairs and can’t stand on cement too long, so it’ll be interesting to see how his knees hold up heading into another five-round title fight with a full training camp. Look for Usman to be conservative and look for the takedown as the moderate favorite here.
Final Leon Edwards-Kamaru Usman 3 Prediction & Pick
This fight is extremely close, closer than the betting lines may suggest. Kamaru Usman will certainly be confident in his ability to replicate most of what happened during the last fight. This time, I predict he’ll be much more active in the wrestling and it may look like a dominant decision if he’s able to stay on top of Edwards. However, I think that Edwards’ confidence is just too high right now. If there was more value on Usman, he’s be a solid pick given he’s won the majority of the eight rounds the’ve faced each other. However, it’s always worth to bet on the champion as an underdog. Look for Edwards to be much more crafty on the ground when the eventual takedown comes.
Final Leon Edwards-Kamaru Usman 3 Prediction & Pick: Leon Edwards (+196)