UFC 286 was an incredible event that saw Leon Edwards (21-3) defend his Welterweight Championship in a highly competitive main event against Kamaru Usman (20-3). Judging seemed to be a factor throughout the card, with surprising decisions in multiple fights. Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev went to battle in a lightweight contest that earned Fight of the Night honors. Gaethje entered this matchup as a betting underdog but defeated the rising contender Fiziev in a memorable back-and-forth fight.
Also on the UFC 286 Main card, Gunnar Nelson (19-5) submitted Bryan Barberena in the first round and Marvin Vettori (19-6) defeated Roman Dolidze by unanimous decision in a very hard fight to score.
(C) Leon Edwards (21-3) Def. #1 Kamaru Usman (20-3)
In the main event of UFC 286 British champion, Leon Edwards defended his title on home soil against heated rival Kamaru Usman. Edwards took the belt from Usman last August with a come-from-behind head kick knockout in the fifth round. Behind significantly on the scorecards in that fight Edwards pulled off a miracle and entered this contest as a (+220) underdog at online sportsbooks.
In round one Edwards started strong punishing Usman with leg kicks and jabs at distance while circling away. Usman pressed forward looking to land powerful punches on the inside and push his opponent into the fence, but couldn’t find the takedown he was looking for. Edwards controlled round one, defending takedowns and outpointing Usman on the feet. In round two Usman began to urgently attempt takedowns as he dragged Edwards to the ground near the beginning of the round.
While in control on the ground, Usman was unable to land damaging blows or find a submission. Edwards scrambled to his feet with under two minutes in the round and was hit with punches to the body and head near the fence as he returned to his feet. Usman was the aggressor in round two and evened the fight at one a-piece on my scorecard. Round three was the most pivotal round of the fight.
Edwards started strong landing a straight left hand followed by a knee that momentarily dazed Usman forcing him to shoot for a takedown. Usman secured the takedown and had control while Edwards was pushed up against the fence. When Edwards attempted to stand, Usman was about to drag him back down but Edwards egregiously grabbed the fence so he wouldn’t fall. Veteran referee Herb Dean had no choice but to deduct a point.
Point Deduction and Championship rounds
The point deduction in round three seemed to be a costly error at the time, putting Edwards behind on the scorecards. This was the right call by the official Dean who deducted a point before giving a warning. Usman lost a significant positional advantage that had to be addressed. While Dean did deduct a point from Edwards he did not return the fight to the ground and restarted the contest standing up. Edwards finished strong on the feet and may have done enough to even the round. Round four was very close as Usman pressured Edwards landing hard right hands again securing a takedown near the end of the round. Edwards was landing the cleaner shots on the feet, establishing a body kick and left hand that seemed to find the mark all fight.
Going into the final round I had Leon Edwards down one and needing to win the fifth for a draw. In round five Usman was unable to find a takedown and seemed to be slowing down. Edwards turned up the volume and had his best round of the fight. For the first time all night, Edwards was the aggressor and walking down Usman. Outpointing Usman in the Fifth round Edwards gave himself a chance going into the judge’s decision. After five rounds Edwards had out-landed Usman 123 to 113 in total strikes but was taken down four times, giving up five minutes and three seconds of ground control. As Bruce Buffer announced “(48-46, 47-47, 48-46) AND STILLLL” the London crowd erupted out of surprise and congratulations for their fellow countryman. Edwards will face number one contender Colby Covington next according to Dana White.
#3 Justin Gaethje (24-4) Def. #6 Rafael Fiziev (12-2)
In the Co-Main Event of UFC, 286 top ten ranked 155-pounders Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev entertained MMA fans across the world. This ended up being one of the best fights in recent months. Both Gaethje and Fiziev put their body on the line absorbing damaging blows to land their own. Gaethje entered this contest off his title defeat to former champion Charles Olivera as a (+210) underdog at online sportsbooks. Fiziev was riding a six-fight win streak and had knocked out respected contenders Renato Moicano, Rafael Dos Anjos, and Brad Riddell during that stretch.
Fiziev looked extremely sharp and quick at the beginning of the round. Gaethje took his time initially, although he started to land damaging leg kicks that left swelling on his opponent’s leg. Fiziev pressured Gaethje throwing a dynamic flying knee that landed clean. Fiziev followed up with a three-punch combination only to get caught with a big right hand coming in. Gaethje continued to land leg kicks at the end of the first round hoping it would take a toll on Fiziev as the fight went on.
In round two Gaethje stood his ground with the accomplished kickboxer Fiziev. Beginning to beat him at his own game. The leg kicks that Gaethje had landed in the first round started to take effect in rounds two and three. As the fight progressed the movement of Fiziev seemed to slow down. Gaethje was able to avoid most of the power punches of Fiziev and counter with thunderous right hands that busted open the left eye of Fiziev. Significant bleeding and swelling on the face of Fiziev could not have helped things with the judges as Gaethje won a Majority Decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28).
#6 Marvin Vettori (19-6) Def. #9 Roman Dolidze (12-2)
Starting the UFC 286 main card Marvin Vettori took on Roman Dolidze in a matchup of top ten Middleweights. Vettori is a fourteen-fight veteran of the UFC whose only losses in the promotion were to former champions Israel Adesanya and Robert Whitaker. Dolidze is an intriguing prospect who has good ground skills and one-punch knockout power in his hands. Dolidze had finished his last three opponents by knockout coming into this contest.
In Round one Dolidze came out extremely aggressive looking to land fight-ending punches. Vettori got on his bicycle and retreated around the cage throwing jabs and kicks to keep Dolidze away. Vettori held a speed advantage throughout the fight but was having to put himself in danger to land punches. Dolidze is an accomplished grappler but never attempted to take the fight to the ground over three rounds. Vettori was able to outland Dolidze 106 to 71 in total strikes but seemed to be more damaged. After the fight, Vettori was bleeding and appeared to take the most punishment. All three Judges awarded Vettori the fight by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
UFC 286 Prelims:
The UFC 286 prelims contained multiple finishes and were highly entertaining. Jiu-Jitsu specialist Gunner Nelson defeated Bryan Barberena in the first round. Barberena was taken down quickly by Nelson and survived off his back for almost two minutes but was eventually submitted with an Armbar. Also on the prelims, undefeated Featherweights Lerone Murphy and Gabriel Santos went to a hard-fought decision. Murphy is an English striker who has impressive cardio and excels in volume striking. Murphy briefly out-landed Santos 115-87 on the feet but was taken down five times over three rounds. Santos had four minutes of ground control over the contest but it seemed to not play a factor on scorecards as Murphy won a unanimous decision in his home country (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
The UFC will return next weekend with an all-action Main event between Marlon Vera (20-7) and Cory Sandhagen (15-4). This Fight Night card starts at 6 p.m. CST from San Antonio, Texas.
For the latest sports news visit Fantom Sports Industries. Follow us on Twitter via @Fantom_sports. Like us on Facebook via Fantom Sports Industries. Subscribe to our YouTube channel via Fantom Sports. Subscribe to our Newsletter! Shop Fantom Sports Industries Merch.