Video Credit: UFC and ESPN

New FSM Essential Recap: UFC 286 Edwards vs Usman 3


UFC 286 comes to a close after a chaotic night in the UK!

UFC 286 Edwards vs Usman 3 took place Saturday in the UK.

The UFC continues to dominate 2023 after putting out their fourth major card of the new year with UFC 286. Saturday’s event showcased elite performances and a potential Fight of the Year bout. However, headlining the night, one of UFC’s most anticipated rubber matches was settled as Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman faced Leon “Rocky” Edwards for the welterweight title.

Who would win the rubber match in UFC 286 Edwards vs Usman 3?

Rocky goes the distance to secure his first title defense.

UFC 286 Edwards vs Usman 3 was starting the fans couldn’t wait for the fight!

UFC 286 Edwards vs Usman 3 Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards square off
Photo Credit: Kieran Cleaves/AP

Plenty was said about Leon Edwards (21-3-0) following his last-minute victory in his second fight with Kamaru Usman (20-3-0). After being dominated by Usman for almost four rounds in their fight at UFC 278, Leon managed to land one of the most famous kicks in the history of MMA in the final minute of the fight. The kick secured the belt for Edwards, but it also left Leon open to criticism for the manner in which he won. Considering how the fight was going leading up to the kick, it was easy to make a case that Leon had gotten lucky and that the kick was simply a lap of judgment on Usman’s part. This was the only thing the new champ heard for months. Still, after going the full five rounds in Saturday’s UFC 286 main event and hanging two-straight losses on the career of one of the greatest welterweights of all time, Rocky solidified his status as champion. He left everyone in the 02 Arena chanting one thing, “Headshot Dead.”

The fight began with Bruce Buffer doing what he does best and vamping up the hype with the introductions. Usman did his best to pressure Leon as he approached the U.K. native aggressively during his intro. Still, instead of standing stoic as he did in their previous fight, Leon matched Kamaru’s energy as he gestured with his hand the act of pulling a trigger, referencing the headshot that won him the belt. This was an early sign that, on this night, Rocky wasn’t going to be intimidated.

In the first round, Edwards came out throwing plenty of leg kicks. Knowing Usman’s injury history, specifically the damage in his knees, this was a clever addition to the game plan from Edwards. As the round continued, Edwards threw plenty of kicks to the legs and body of Usman and seemed determined to dictate the pace of the fight. Toward the end of the round, Usman attempted his first takedown and had Leon in a bad position against the fence. Edwards managed to swing Usman off of him, but the fight was stopped as the ref noticed Edwards had hooked his fingers into Usman’s glove, making it easier to have the leverage to escape the position. This would end the round with Edwards receiving a warning for this illegal action.

More drama in UFC 286 Edwards vs Usman 3!

The fight continued to see referee Herb Dean get involved as he was forced to back Usman up after he got a head start to the center of the octagon before the start of the round.

UFC 286 Edwards vs Usman 3 was all fans hoped for in a fight.

UFC 286 Edwards vs Usman 3 Leon Edward delivers a kick
Photo Credit: Jeff Bottari:Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Dean then had to pause the fight after Usman seemed to be kicked in the groin. Once the fight started again, Edwards continued to land shots with his legs, including a flying knee attempt that landed on Usman’s chin, causing the former champ to stumble for a bit. After recovering, Usman charged Leon and managed to score multiple takedowns during the round. Just as he did in their first two fights, Usman became the aggressor.

Usman would continue to chase Edwards around the octagon through to the third round. Usman seemed to regain his old form as he handled Edwards and aggressively yanked him to the mat for multiple takedowns. Leon struggled to stay on his feet, and at one point, Edwards grabbed the fence to avoid being forced to the mat. Herb Dean caught this illegal act and officially docked Leon a point on the scorecards at the end of the round.

In the fourth, Edwards continued to throw kicks and kept his distance as Usman attempted to close the gap. As Edwards landed kicks and began avoiding Usman’s takedown attempts, the U.K. crowd began cheering on their countryman as “Headshot Dead” chants roared through the arena.

The fight continued in this fashion all the way through the fifth round. Usman attempted to take the fight to the ground multiple times in the final period, but Leon was prepared and managed to defend himself against the strength of Usman.

The final horn rang, and the fight went to the judges’ decision. After five rounds, the judges decided Leon had done enough and awarded the fight to Rocky.

After the fight, Edwards was asked who he would want to fight following his first title defense. Just before Leon could answer, the backup fighter for the main event rose from the crowd and shouted his claim for the opportunity. It was Colby “Chaos” Covington, who, after dealing with legal issues due to being attacked outside of the cage by Jorge Masvidal, decided to return after almost two years away from the sport and demanded that he deserved the next shot at the belt. Covington’s appearance at UFC 286 was a surprise to everyone, and his claim for a title shot was even more shocking.

It certainly seems the welterweight division is heating up. With the reign of Kamaru Usman coming to a close, a new chapter opens with Leon Edwards calling the shots. The man who was ridiculed and disregarded throughout his career now stands as the champion who decides the worth of any man who wants a title shot. So whether it’s Covington, Masvidal, Chimaev, or even an Irish former double champ looking to become the first three-division champion in UFC history in Conor McGregor, they all will have to sit back and wait on the decision from the best welterweight fighter on the planet, Leon “Rocky” Edwards.

UFC 286 Edwards vs Usman 3 was a fitting end to the trilogy fight between these two warriors. 

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