UFC 286 predictions — Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman 3: Fight card, odds, preview, prelims, expert picks
On Saturday night, Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards will meet in a rubber match for the welterweight championship in the main event of UFC 286. In their previous meeting, Usman dominated the fight before Edwards was knocked out with a blow to the head in the last minute of the 5th round. , ending Usman’s long reign as champion.
Usman has been the best fighter in the previous two bouts, winning almost every moment in both fights, but Edwards’ head kick is the moment that really stands out in their rivalry.
In the co-main event of the evening, Justin Gaethje looks to maintain his status as one of the UFC’s elite lightweights by taking on rising star Rafael Fiziev. The fight promises to be an exciting fight between two powerful fighters with the ability to end the fight at any moment.
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With so much going on Saturday night, let’s take a closer look at the full fight card with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before we get into our staff’s predictions and picks for the PPV celebration part.
UFC 286 fight card, odds
Odds via bookmaker Caesars
- Kamaru Usman -240 vs. Leon Edwards (c) +200 Welterweight Championship
- Rafael Fiziev -230 vs. Justin Gaethje +190, lightweight
- Gunnar Nelson -370 vs Brian Barberena +290 Welterweight
- Casey O’Neal -175 vs. Jennifer Maya +150 Women’s Flyweight
- Marvin Vettori -280 vs. Roman Dolidze +230 Middleweight
- Jack Shore -500 vs Makwan Amirkhani +380 Featherweight
- Omar Morales -110 vs. Chris Duncan -110 Middleweight
- Sam Patterson -280 vs Yanal Ashmoz +230 Lightweight
- Muhammad Mokaev -900 vs. Jafel Filho +600 Flyweight
- Leron Murphy -175 vs Gabriel Santos +150 Featherweight
- Christian Leroy Duncan -210 vs. Dusko Todorovic +175 Middleweight
- Jake Hadley -400 vs. Malcolm Gordon +310 flyweight
- Joanne Wood -170 vs. Luana Carolina +145 Women’s Flyweight
- Ludovit Klein -190 vs. Jai Herbert +160 Lightweight
- Julianne Miller -440 vs. Veronica Macedo +350, Women’s Flyweight
With such a massive main event in mind, the CBS Sports team made their predictions and chose the main card. Here are your picks: Brent Brookhouse (combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (combat sports writer, Morning Kombat co-host), Shaquille Mahjuri (screenwriter), Michael Mormail (producer), and Brandon Wise (senior editor).
UFC 286 Election Predictions
|Edwards (c) vs. Usman||Usman||Usman||Usman||Edwards||Usman|
|Gaethje vs. Fiziev||Fiziev||Fiziev||Fiziev||Fiziev||Gaethje|
|Nelson vs. barberin||Salon||Nelson||Nelson||Nelson||Salon|
|O’Neal vs Maya||O’Neill||O’Neill||O’Neill||O’Neill||O’Neill|
|Carriers vs. Dolidze||Dolidze||Vectors||Vectors||Vectors||Vectors|
|Records to date (2023)
Edwards vs Usman
Campbell: It took Edwards a 10-fight unbeaten streak and a dramatic fifth-round knockout of Usman in their Rocky rematch last summer to finally earn the title of legitimate welterweight contender (and now champion). However, in a moment as inspirational as his stunning headbutt turned out to be, Edwards once again enters the trilogy as a betting underdog. And there’s good reason to believe Usman when he said the loss had more to do with his lack of focus than anything else after dominating the previous three rounds before Edwards ended the fight. Usman, even approaching the age of 36, remains a more dominant wrestler and better mixed martial artist than his British rival and pretty much proved it with the eight rounds in between. With newfound motivation to reclaim the title, expect Usman to do his business as deliberately as possible, supporting Edwards and using the threat of a takedown to open his punch.
Brookhouse: I think that there is a very real chance that Usman will be broken by one blow. We’ve seen a lot of elite fighters get knocked out once and never be the same again, especially later in their careers. However, I just can’t pick Edwards. Prior to this strike by Edwards, Usman had dominated the fight. Edwards looked completely beaten in the corner round after round. What is more likely here? Usman falls victim to a massive one-punch knockout, or does this fight end the same as all of their previous two encounters, except for one second?
Fiziev vs. Gaethje
Campbell: Armed with a six-fight win streak, including three brutal knockouts, Fiziev may be catching the dangerous Gaethje at just the right time after Zyuminka has lost undisputed title bids twice over the past three years. At 34 years old, given the incredible experience gained over recent years as one of the most exciting and barbaric fighters in UFC history, Gaethje’s inevitable demise is likely to come quickly once it begins. Provided that Fiziev can keep his distance from the calculating brawler and shoot from the outside, Gaethje’s lack of commitment to his own wrestling attack leaves him very vulnerable on the stand.
Wise: While it’s true that Gaethje’s damage should catch up to him, getting a fighting brute as an underdog here just seems too juicy to pass up. Fiziev is a versatile fighter, able to strike from a distance. But Gaethje tends to cause a fight in everyone he comes across with sheer will. Just ask Charles Oliveira, who was expected by many to put him on the mat early, but instead decided to get up and trade with the former interim title holder before ultimately scoring a submission. Gaethje has a way of getting fighters to fight his style, and until he’s really finished off by some of the elite still in action, I’ll be on the Punchline’s side to produce again.
Nelson vs. barberin
Campbell: An amazing three-fight winning streak, culminating in his loss to Rafael dos Anjos last December, has given Barberen the confidence (and job security) to put off early retirement at 33. a famous brawler who honed his punches to the point of surprising veteran fighters like Robbie Lawler and Matt Brown. While Nelson is technically a step ahead of Barberena’s recent victories, his own repeated layoffs, including just one fight in the last three years, have tarnished his reputation. Barberena will need to pick up the pace and lure Nelson into the carnage, but he has a gas tank and the will to win the fight thanks to his high volume and stamina.
Brookhouse: Barberena’s fight just isn’t on the level that should be against someone with Nelson’s skills. Nelson is a leg pest with his karate-based punches and this will make Barberena try to attack with big blitzes. Such a leap forward simply opens up opportunities for Nelson to take the fight to the ground, where it becomes a complete inconsistency. Barberena, who came on short notice with the disadvantages he has in wrestling and wrestling, is simply not going to come out of it with a win.