One of the biggest trilogy fights in UFC history is upon us as Leon Edwards looks to defend his title against the man he beat to win it, Kamaru Usman, at UFC 286 at The O2 Arena in London. Edwards will have the backing of the home crowd at The O2 as he seeks to shock the world once again. We look at 3 reasons why the Jamaican-born Brit can beat Usman for the second time in a row.
Leon Edwards needed a fifth-round knockout to beat Usman and claim the UFC welterweight championship in their second fight at UFC 278 last year. He was 3-1 down going into the fifth round and produced one of the greatest head kicks and comebacks in the promotion’s history.
“Rocky” did not have his best performance for several reasons, and beating the then pound-for-pound king after one of his worst performances will give him confidence heading into the trilogy fight. Headlining a pay-per-view as the champion on home soil will also give Edwards much-needed confidence.
Islam Makhachev at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi and Alexander Volkonovski at UFC 284 in Australia are perfect examples of how a home crowd can have a positive influence on a fighter’s performance. The British crowd is one of the loudest in the UFC, and they certainly know how to get behind one of their own.
I couldn’t find records of this, but the welterweight champion has been saying that he’s never lost in the UK since this fight got announced, which should give him a lot of confidence against a motivated challenger in “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman.
Fighting At Sea Level
Last year’s fight between Edwards and Usman took place in Salt Lake City which is 4000 feet above sea level. Edwards has insisted that the elimination of altitude as a hurdle will see him replicate his first-round performance from UFC 278 come fight night inside The O2.
I don’t think that fighting at altitude is Leon trying to make excuses as we saw many fighters on the UFC 278 card get tired relatively quickly, which affected their performances. On the other hand, Usman trains at altitude in Denver, Colorado, which is why he was one of the few fighters not affected in Salt Lake City.
I think we will see a better performance from Edwards this time around, which will make for a competitive and exciting fight. I’m backing him to defend his title on home soil (sea level).