A rematch of a bout that featured one of the most incredible finishes in UFC history headlines UFC 286 on Saturday in London.
England’s Leon Edwards (20-3) will have the home-crowd advantage at 02 Arena when he faces Nigeria’s Kamaru Usman (20-2) in the evening’s main event in a UFC welterweight title matchup.
The meeting is the third between the pair.
Usman, a 35-year-old who fights out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., won a unanimous decision when both were UFC newcomers in 2015.
In their UFC 278 rematch, Usman was cruising in his title defense before Edwards stunned the MMA world by knocking Usman cold with a perfect head kick in the final minute of the fifth round to claim the title via knockout.
Both competitors have experienced sterling UFC careers. For Edwards, 31, the 2015 loss to Usman was his last. He has won 10 straight since, with one no-content thrown in. Usman’s defeat at UFC 278 was his first in 16 UFC fights.
Saturday’s bout should answer two big questions: 1. Was the head kick a fluke? 2. How will Usman respond after being so brutally knocked out for the first time in his career?
“He was winning the fight, but who cares?” Edwards said at media day. “It goes down as you go out cold, head shot and that’s all that matters. When it’s all said and done, winners win, and even on my worst day, my worst performance, I still knock you out.”
The evening’s co-feature bout is an intriguing lightweight matchup in which former interim titleholder Justin Gaethje (23-4) of Colorado takes on Rafael Fiziev (12-1) of Azerbaijan.
Gaethje is known as one of the sport’s most exciting fighters and has earned UFC’s post-fight bonuses on 10 occasions. However, he has dropped two of his past three fights, and in Fiziev, he meets an opponent who has all the looks of a real contender fast rising the ranks. Fiziev has won six straight bouts, three via knockout.
–Field Level Media