Kamaru Usman isn’t too concerned about what Leon Edwards will bring to the table in their highly anticipated rubber match.
The UFC returns to London, England for the first time in 2023, and in a big way. Headlining this Saturday night’s UFC 286 pay-per-view will be the third encounter between hometown welterweight champion Edwards and rival Usman. Their streak is all tied 1-1, with Edwards last beating his opponent with an all-time headbutt-knockout comeback last August.
Usman first went on the scoreboard in December 2015 against Edwards, winning a three-round unanimous decision. The five-round rematch tended to be an identical outcome after a bumpy opening frame eventually led to a nightmarishly perfect shot from Brits’ best. Therefore, Usman is not sold that he was defeated by the better fighter in the rematch.
“Yes, you have a lot of tape,” Usman told Morning Kombat. “All these people or all these fighters have to watch and study all these tapes and try to beat you with what they studied. If they’re able to do that, if they have the ability to study your tape and go out there and shut it all down and do that, they’re the better fighters. You deserve to be a champion anyway. You can’t stop it If they have the ability to trump what they see on tape, they’re the better fighters anyway.
“Well the problem is you can watch as much tape as you want. A lot of people can see me and say, ‘Oh wow, he’s got a decent gas tank.’ But until you’re locked in this cage with me and actually feel it, you have no idea. This individual felt it twice and melted it twice. He hasn’t shown me anything that would make me believe he’s a better mixed martial artist than me, other than a fifth-round Hail Mary.”
Though Usman fell from his spot with just a second career loss in 22 fights, it was more of a weight lift than a lingering negative.
The former champion recalled how easier life was before he reached the top of the mountain and hit the LA Fitness gyms ahead of his first title fight with Tyron Woodley. Usman could just be “normal” and not be bothered by all the extra attention that came with being one of MMA’s biggest and best stars.
Usman, 35, is still fully prepared to reclaim the title this weekend, but his recent beltless stretch hasn’t been the deep, dark hole many may think.
“I was over it on the way to the hospital that night,” Usman said of the loss. “When you feel that sense of relief, it’s just like all the expectations, all that and all that… You just hear it all fading away.
“That’s how I enjoy the sport. The sport wasn’t that much fun with all the noise. I love the position I’ve been promoted to and I cherish it because I know that’s what comes when you really try hard like I’ve done over the years. But it wasn’t necessarily as fun as the ride.”
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The Edwards Headbutt Guide.
The first London show.
Summary of Bellator 292.
Anatomy of UFC 286 Ep. 1.
Gaethje behind the curtain.
War Room: Edwards vs. Usman 3.
damn morning MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck talks about where Kamaru Usman is going after UFC 286.
Instantly iconic duo.
take your time
Healthy Kai and Merab.
Worth a try.
A wild McGregor appears.
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Levan Chokheli (11-2, 1 NC) vs. Michael Lombardo (13-3, 1NC); Bellator 294, April 21
Tyrell Fortune (12-3, 1 NC) vs. Sergei Bilostennyi (10-2); Bellator 294, April 21
Cris Lencioni (10-3) vs. BlakeSmith (7-3); Bellator 294, April 21
Anthony Adams (9-3) vs. Sharaf Davlatmurodov (18-4-1); Bellator 294, April 21
Danny Sabatello (13-2) vs. Marco Breno (15-2); Bellator 294, April 21
David Franklin (5-1) vs. Kasim Aras (7-1); Bellator 295, April 22nd
Ilara Joanne (11-6) vs. Brun Ellen (6-4); Bellator 295, April 22nd
Mads Burnell (16-5) vs. Justin Gonzalez (14-1); Bellator 295, April 22nd
Miranda Maverick (13-4) vs. Jasmine Jasudavicius (8-2); UFC 289, June 10
There’s a good chance I counted Usman wrong, but I think this third time will be in Edward’s favor. Anyway, I’m expecting a great fight.
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