March 3, 2024
UFC 286: Edwards vs. Usman 3 – Fights to make

UFC 286 is all wrapped up. Though it did not have the higher pressure thrills of 285, it was a rather gratifying PPV all about. Leon Edwards place on what might have been the most complete functionality of his job to set his rivalry with Kamaru Usman firmly to mattress in the major function, when Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev gave us particularly the war we’d hoped for in the co-major. Toss an additional submission spotlight for Gunnar Nelson in there, and there was plenty of higher amount MMA on screen.

So, is the UFC genuinely heading to shove yet another Colby Covington title shot on us? Is there any clear route for Gaethje back to a shot at the light-weight strap? And who’s the up coming prime prospect that is going to have to tangle with Jennifer Maia to get to the flyweight elite?

To respond to these questions—and a bunch of other stuff—I’ll be utilizing the basic Silva/Shelby combat reserving methodology from the UFC of a long time earlier. That suggests pitting winners from winners, losers versus losers, and equally tenured talent up from a single a further. With any luck ,, by pursuing that product, a couple of these bout ideas will really make it off the webpage and into the Octagon. Now, let us get to the fights!

LEON EDWARDS

A fantastic struggle from Leon Edwards who built a few of modest, elementary adjustments likely into this bout that seem to have finely tuned his sport to beating Kamaru Usman. Initially and foremost, Edwards almost entirely went absent from head strikes for this fight. It’s a strange shift for just about any individual to make in MMA, considering the fact that hanging to the head is the best way to do damage that catches the eye of the judges. But, for Edwards—who has extensive struggled to keep his back off the cage—it proved to a truly outstanding tactic. With much less target on letting his fingers go in a swiftly collapsing pocket, ‘Rocky’ was able to place a lot far more emphasis on his circling footwork, protecting specifically the range he necessary for his kicking recreation.

Extremely sus.
Photograph by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC by means of Getty Photos

The other adjustment, as noted numerous situations all through the broadcast, was his emphasis on usually attacking just one wrist with the two arms just about every time Usman shot in on his legs. The ‘Nigerian Nightmare’’s greatest wrestling not often arrives from a pure, explosive double-leg. He’s at his very best when he drives an opponent to the cage, receives his palms locked, and works by using his excellent upper-overall body strength to rip his foe’s hips off the fence and dump them on the mat. Edwards generally earning guaranteed he managed one wrist ensured that a crucial action in Usman’s takedown approach was usually broken. The outcome was a good deal far more time expended up on his toes, at distance.

Usually, this is the place exactly where I’d speak about how Edwards ought to now be fighting the subsequent clear challenger in front of him. By all legal rights, that would be Belal Muhammad. If almost everything stays the way it is suitable now, nonetheless, that won’t be occurring. At the submit-UFC 286 presser, Dana White uncovered that not only is the advertising wanting to book Muhammad towards top rated mounting prospect Shavkat Rakhmonov, but Colby Covington (who served as surprise backup contender at this celebration) is acquiring the next crack at gold. End of dialogue. As others have currently observed, Covington hasn’t beat a fighter coming off a gain given that RDA in 2018. It’s not the selection I’d make, but it looks Leon Edwards vs. Colby Covington is the struggle we’re heading to get.

KAMARU USMAN

The huge problem to be experienced heading into this fight for Kamaru Usman was, would he tension extra? At UFC 278, Usman stayed on the front foot a whole lot, but his quantity was nowhere in close proximity to what it had been in bouts with Gilbert Burns, Colby Covington, or Tyron Woodley. It felt a bit like the Trevor Wittman-qualified athlete saved Edwards in their very last fight with his lack of regular offensive output. Specially in that 5th round, where by he threw all of 16 strikes in 4 minutes—before receiving brutally KO’d. So with a second probability, at sea level, this was Usman’s time to place his foot on the fuel, suitable? Mistaken.

Thompson even now has a number of wars remaining in him.
Photograph by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

He when yet again retained factors sluggish and careful, giving Edwards sufficient time to ramp up his kicking video game as Usman tried using to stalk into array without having a lot in the way of offense to do the job driving. The final result was a moderately clear loss. Even me scoring this combat a draw meant that I comfortably experienced Edwards successful 3/5 rounds.

So with the title now out of get to for the foreseeable upcoming, who does Usman want to combat? Chimaev’s evidently shifting up, Muhammad is evidently fighting Rakhmonov, Covington’s booked (in addition we have seen that struggle ample)—same with Burns & Masvidal. That leaves just one simple selection. A glaring omission from Usman’s resume: Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson. Thompson’s coming off a large gain about Kevin Holland, the UFC must strike although the iron is even now amazingly sizzling. Thompson vs. Usman is a wonderful substantial-profile next scheduling for the former king.

JUSTIN GAETHJE

Entire credit rating to Justin Gaethje, Rafael Fiziev seemed like he had accomplished his research and arrived out attacking the overall body difficult. He landed tons of kicks from variety, dug with knees on the within, and was pleased to sit down and land massive pictures in the pocket when the time called. But Gaethje created a few outstanding adjustments that saw him stall ‘Ataman’’s momentum and finally start out taking it over late.

We could all use viewing this battle once again.
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Pictures

The to start with adjustment was to begin meeting Fiziev’s pocket entire body strikes with uppercuts. The second was to struggle at the rear of his jab. The very first step certain Fiziev to be much more careful about urgent with genuine conviction. The next saved him firmly on the conclusion of Gaethje’s punches the rest of the way. The stop outcome is a large gain that Gaethje certainly experienced to have if he’s going to make an additional title operate like he would like.

The ‘Highlight’ intimated that he may not have lots of fights still left, so we simply cannot squander them. Regrettably finding there will probably suggest likely by means of a few of males who by now have his variety: Dustin Poirier or Charles Oliveira. If Gaethje’s really lucky, Beneil Dariush will defeat Oliveira and nonetheless won’t get a title shot and he can get that battle (although the two gentlemen are also shut good friends, so that nevertheless might not be a bookable match). If not the only noticeable answer correct now is Poirier vs. Gaethje 2.

GUNNAR NELSON

Bryan Barberena is heaps of exciting, but this was additional or significantly less a walkover scheduling for Gunnar Nelson. The Icelandic fighter pressured his way into an early takedown and at the time he had Barberena on the mat, it was only a issue of time just before this was gonna be all wrapped up. A pair minutes and an armbar endeavor afterwards and the struggle was more than.

Nelson’s evidently extra fully commited to his coaching occupation appropriate now than getting a total time fighter, so we might not see him anytime soon. But when he does occur back, bouts with Muslim Salikhov, the winner of Holland/Ponzinibbio, or a re-booking of the Daniel Rodriguez bout would all be good. Hell I’d really like to see him against Max Griffin or Michel Pereira or Jack Della Maddalena way too. Tons of options. Taking into consideration the unlikelihood he runs back to the cage for a brief return, I’ll say hold out for the winner of Holland/Ponzinibbio. Holland vs. Nelson would be so substantially fun and a rematch of that Ponzinibbio battle feels extended overdo.


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About the author: Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. Host of the MMA Vivisection and 6th Spherical, he has coated MMA and the UFC due to the fact 2013.(total bio)