I saved ready for the UFC to show up the promotion for UFC 286. In spite of everything, it’s a hell of loads simpler to advertise the third contest between Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman than their second battle was. There’s really an affordable debate as to who will win this time round. Granted, I’ll be the primary to confess I don’t spend numerous time on the mediums that produce giant volumes of the sorts of promotion I’m referring to. Regardless, I noticed a number of commercials for Jon Jones and Ciryl Gane within the lead as much as UFC 285. I haven’t seen any for UFC 286. Maybe it has to do with the early begin time of UFC 286, given the occasion is going down within the UK. Maybe it has to do with the occasion going down solely two weeks after UFC 285. Almost definitely, it’s a mix of each.
It’s a disgrace the UFC did this contest soiled. Usman was on scale to probably separate himself from the nice welterweights of the UFC’s previous. Many already had him past Matt Hughes. Some even had him on par with Georges St-Pierre. I received’t say it’ll be unimaginable for Usman to achieve the usual of a GSP at this level, however he might want to safe a win right here for that to occur. In spite of everything, the one fighters who’ve held the welterweight strap on two separate events are Hughes and St-Pierre. As for Edwards, he wants a win to ascertain himself as greater than only a cursory champion who scored an enormous upset. Not that it’s a horrible destiny; Matt Serra and Holly Holm have grow to be extra memorable than a number of different champions from UFC previous who managed to realize no less than one profitable protection. However you could be assured each of them would have somewhat added a protection to their resume.
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Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman, Welterweight
It isn’t too arduous to get all the way down to the nitty gritty of this contest. We noticed these two collide simply seven months in the past and Usman was profitable the competition in his trademark grinding style till Edwards landed his Hail Mary head kick that rewrote the historical past of MMA. That’s no hyperbole. A title change is an enormous deal, however a comeback that historic turns into a “Do you bear in mind the place you have been when…” second. Regardless, anybody who is aware of a modicum about both fighter would acknowledge Usman is the superior wrestler by a big margin, which we have been reminded of within the final contest. Usman secured 5 takedowns and maintained positional management for nearly half of the competition. In different phrases, he was profitable till he wasn’t.
To provide a extra sincere take, Usman is likely one of the best wrestlers in the history of the UFC. I don’t imagine he has been on the wrestling drawback in any of his MMA contests. Nonetheless, it could possibly be argued Usman was profitable the standup earlier than he was knocked out chilly. Take out the bottom strikes and Usman nonetheless maintained the placing benefit. He nonetheless maintained the benefit if you happen to take away the clinch placing. I perceive Usman’s standup advantages from the specter of his wrestling. Put Edwards and Usman in a straight kickboxing contest and Edwards is the superior fighter. Nonetheless, the secret is MMA. That takedown risk is actual and it performs into how the standup performs out. We all know what kind of energy Usman can unleash too. Solely two folks have put Jorge Masvidal away with strikes. One was Usman. Solely main MMA stat heads can title the opposite with out wanting it up. Thus, it’s clear Usman has a tactical benefit in just about all the key areas.
The factor is, there are such a lot of psychological points at play going into the third contest. Usman’s solely different profession loss got here 10 years in the past in his second profession MMA battle, a submission. He might attribute that to being younger within the sport. That is Usman’s first main loss. He’d been to hell and again in his first battle with Colby Covington, however he held on and didn’t break mentally or bodily. We all know Edwards broke him bodily within the first contest, Usman’s mind shutting down his physique after struggling extreme trauma. We don’t know if the loss has damaged Usman mentally. It isn’t simply that Usman misplaced. It didn’t occur in a small present on troublesome to seek out grainy footage. He misplaced in essentially the most devastating method on one of many greatest levels potential. In at the moment’s uber-viral world, it has been replayed over and over. Usman can mitigate how typically he sees it, however I don’t imagine he can utterly keep away from it. Will he preserve his confidence? Will he be gun shy? There’s no option to definitively know till they step within the cage.
One other speaking level needs to be Usman’s physique. Whereas Usman is undoubtedly a unbelievable athlete, it hasn’t been a secret that his physique has been falling aside. His knees restrict his skill to coach. Usman has tied himself to some wonderful coaches who’ve been capable of finding profitable workarounds, permitting him to take care of his dominant type. Usman coming off a loss could complicate this situation. Usman’s competitiveness has by no means been questioned; nobody has accused him of dodging opponents. He welcomed rematches with Masvidal and Covington as a result of some have been unhappy with the best way he received in his first contests with them. Will his motivation to regain his belt trigger him to overtrain? Past that, might he find yourself focusing an excessive amount of on one space a lot he ignores different areas? I did say Usman has at all times been related to good coaches, so I imagine this situation could be mitigated on the very least. However Usman is in the end in command of his camp. It’s not like they’re round him 24 hours a day both.
Edwards’ confidence is a troublesome factor to guage too. Now proudly owning a win over Usman, he is aware of he can beat him now. Not saying he didn’t imagine that earlier than, however he is aware of it now. That confidence enhance could possibly be a boon for him. It is also his downfall. Miesha Tate fell in love with being champion greater than being targeted on conserving her belt. Looking back, it wasn’t arduous to see what occurred with Tate given all of the promotional stuff she was doing after she received the title. There’s a robust case to be made that occurred with Usman. Edwards hasn’t been practically as seen as most new champions, so I’m hedging that he’ll be high quality, however it’s arduous to say.
There’s a lot we learn about this contest. Edwards is a extra technical striker with underrated power in his fists. Usman is the superior wrestler. That mentioned, Usman is not any slouch on the ft and Edwards is a greater than competent wrestler and grappler. In spite of everything, he was the first fighter to score a takedown on Usman, not a minor feat. Given the best way their final battle ended, it has created numerous uncertainty that we received’t have solutions to till they step within the cage. Maybe one thing could be gleaned from interviews from each of them, however that has historically been a misplaced avenue, particularly when neither fighter is a provocateur alongside the traces of a McGregor. Weigh-ins could be telling, however this text will likely be submitted earlier than these happen. I’ve tried to run down all of the intangibles that I can right here, however I acknowledge that’s all hypothesis. Occurring what we do know, Usman appears like the suitable choose. Whereas his physique is breaking down, that isn’t what value him. He was coasting and gave Edwards a gap he exploited. Granted, it’s been seven months since they fought, greater than sufficient time for Usman to face a decline given how quickly that tends to set in. With no signal although, I’m not betting on that. As I mentioned a lot earlier within the article, Usman was profitable till he wasn’t. Given the psychological toughness Usman has historically proven, I’m betting this contest will play out similarly with out the surprising end. Usman through determination
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