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Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman meet for the third time this Saturday at UFC 286. Can Usman reclaim the belt? Ben Rajavuori breaks it down.
ANALYSIS

Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman 3 Best Bet: Can Usman Reclaim the Belt at UFC 286?

On March 18th, 2023, the UFC returns to London for one of the most highly anticipated fights of the year. The trilogy bout between Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman will settle once and for all who the better fighter is. In a bout that is sure to have huge implications for the welterweight division, Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman will go head-to-head to decide the undisputed welterweight champion of the world. Although Edwards came out on top in the last fight to even the series 1-1, the books have Kamaru Usman as a -250 favorite to reclaim the belt.

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Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

When: March 18, 2023,

Time: 5:00 PM EDT / 1:00 PM PST

Where: O2 Arena (ENG), London, England

Where to Watch: ESPN+, PPV

Click here for Edwards vs. Usman odds

Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman Prediction

When these two fighters first met in 2015, Kamaru Usman came out on top in a convincing fashion. His wrestling was too much for Edwards, and Usman won by unanimous decision. Although Edwards has improved since then, so has Usman. With a record of 15-1 in the UFC, including six title fights, Usman was once the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. However, after his second fight with Edwards, which he lost by knockout in the final minute of the bout, Usman fell to fifth in the rankings. Edwards is now just ahead of him in fourth.

Despite the fact that Edwards landed a perfectly placed head kick to win their last fight, it's hard to argue that he is a better fighter than Usman. In their two fights, Usman has at least one takedown in every round, including a total of 11 takedowns in 8 total rounds. Usman's strong wrestling background has translated beautifully to MMA, and he is a master at taking fights to the ground. He averages three takedowns per 15 minutes and keeps his striking average up in the process, averaging 4.55 strikes per minute in the octagon.

Although Usman is known for his brutal pace and grinding style, he has also finished three of his six title fights. However, in this trilogy fight, it's unlikely that he will be looking for a finish. Usman knows he can win rounds by staying busy on top and grinding Edwards down with his wrestling. I predict that Usman will once again take Edwards down and control him on the ground for the majority of the fight.

Of course, there is always a chance that Edwards could land another knockout blow. He proved in their last fight that he had the striking ability to finish Usman. However, it's worth noting that Usman was ahead on strikes in the fifth round of their last fight before Edwards landed the head kick and was winning on the feet until then, up 83 to 55 significant strikes.

One certain thing is that Usman will not let his guard down in this fight. He was about to win on the scorecards in their last fight before getting knocked out, and he will not make the same mistake again. Usman was up 3-1 on all three scorecards and likely was winning the fifth, meaning he would have won 49-46 unanimously without the fluke kick.

In my opinion, the most likely outcome of this fight is a decision win for Kamaru Usman. He has the wrestling advantage and knows how to control opponents on the ground. If Edwards can't stop Usman's takedowns, he will be in for a long night. He hasn't proven that he can stop the takedowns and has been taken down by Usman at least once in every round they have fought.

This trilogy fight between Edwards and Usman is shaping up to be an epic bout, but I think Usman has a much clearer path to victory here. While Edwards has the ability to finish the fight with his striking, Usman will use his wrestling to control the fight, wear Edwards down, and win a decision. Edwards is extremely durable and has not been finished once in his career, so the value is on Usman by decision at plus-odds.

Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman Pick

Pick: Usman by Decision @ +110 Bet $100 to collect $210 FanDuel has the best odds; click here to bet

Article Author

NCAABBoxing/MMAMLBNHL

Ben Rajavuori is a handicapper out of Minneapolis, MN. He has been creating sports content for almost four years now and is an expert in all things NFL, MLB, NBA, UFC, and NCAAB. Ben thrives on diving deep into statistics to find the best angle on every bet. You can follow him on Twitter @WeBeatTheSpread.

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