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UFC 286 – Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman

Kamaru Usman was on course for a sixth title defense and 16th straight UFC victory last summer. He was the undisputed best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet and about a minute away from another accolade that would thrust him into a discussion of the greatest fighters of all time.

And then Leon Edwards cracked Usman upside the head with a left kick. Less than 60 seconds from certain loss, Edwards fired a Hail Mary, finishing the dominant champion at UFC 278. It was a stunning comeback, the best knockout of 2022, and it earned Edwards the heavyweight title. UFC welterweight. Usman had already beaten Edwards once seven years earlier. But now, with the stakes at their highest, Edwards has evened the score.

Edwards and Usman will meet for the third time on Saturday in the main event of UFC 286 in London. Edwards’ welterweight title — the one Usman held for more than three years — will be on the line. ESPN has Usman ranked No. 4 and Edwards ranked No. 7 in its pound-for-pound MMA rankings.

Edwards (20-3, 1 NC) is undefeated in 11 straight fights. He hasn’t lost since Usman defeated him by unanimous decision in 2015. Edwards, 31, is the first Jamaican-born champion in UFC history and boasts victories over Rafael dos Anjos, Nate Diaz, Donald Cerrone and Vicente Luque.

Usman (20-2) suffered one last loss before the Edwards fight in 2013, just his second career professional fight. The Nigerian-born fighter who trains from Colorado picked up two wins apiece over Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal during his title reign. Usman, 35, defeated Tyron Woodley by unanimous decision to win the championship at UFC 235 in March 2019.

In the co-main event on Saturday, former interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje will take on up-and-coming Rafael Fiziev. Gaethje (23-4), a 34-year-old from Arizona, has won five of his last seven fights, with both losses coming in fights for the UFC lightweight belt. Fiziev (12-1), a 30-year-old Kazakh-born fighter competing in Florida, has won six straight UFC fights.

Also on the card, female flyweight prospect Casey O’Neill returns from knee surgery to face former title challenger Jennifer Maia, Gunnar Nelson takes on Bryan Barberena in a welterweight bout and the former title challenger middleweight title Marvin Vettori meets Roman Dolidze.

Follow Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim recap all the action, or watch the fights on ESPN+ PPV.

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