Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the pay-per-view (PPV) market later TODAY (Sat., March 18, 2023), as UFC 286 goes down from inside The O2 in London, England. The headlining act will feature a trilogy fight as Welterweight champion, Leon Edwards, will put his belt on the line against Kamaru Usman, the man he took it from seven months ago at UFC 278. In the co-main event, Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev collide in what is sure to be a hard-hitting affair.
How To Watch/Stream UFC 286
Start Time (United States)
- ESPN+ PPV main card: 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT start on ESPN+ (order it here).
- “Prelims” undercard (late): 3 p.m. ET / 12 p.m. PT start, streaming online via ESPN+ and simulcast on ESPN2 in the United States.
- “Prelims” undercard (early): 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT start, streaming online via ESPN+ and simulcast on Fight Pass in the United States.
There’s nothing like a trilogy fight to break a tie in a rivalry that dates back eight years. Usman initially defeated Edwards in Dec. 2015 in what was “The Nigerian Nightmare’s” second fight inside the Octagon (Edwards’ fourth). Seven years later, “Rocky” got his revenge, pulling a rabbit out of his hat in a fight he was losing 1-3 going into the fifth round. With one minute remaining in the fight, Edwards delivered the head kick heard around the world, flattening Usman to win the 170-pound strap (highlights). Now, the two men will tango in the third (and possible final) fight between them to see who the best Welterweight on the planet really is.
Despite getting knocked out in the rematch, Usman is still high on confidence going into the event because he was, after all, winning the fight in all facets of the fight game, so there is really no reason for him to go in deflated. Edwards, though, feels that “The Nigerian Nightmare” is on his way out of the fight game and he is more than happy to hammer another nail in his combat coffin.
It will all come down to who has made the best adjustments over the last few months. Usman has shown that he has some ever-improving striking to go with his outstanding wrestling, but Edwards, it seems, is always being overlooked when it comes to his standup game. The British brawler is on a 10-fight win streak and hasn’t tasted defeat since his loss to Usman, and he isn’t ready to give up his title before he can truly enjoy life as champion. People seem to be counting out Usman based on on the rematch outcome, which tends to happen when a fighter is coming off a devastating knockout. That’s why this is a huge fight for both men, but more-so for Usman because one more loss could lead to a downward spiral, or even possibly retirement.
Usman can take this fight to the ground seemingly anytime he wants to, but I just don’t see him doing that because his ego might get the best of him and he won’t be content with squeaking out a decision. On the contrary, he wants to put an an exciting performance while getting a convincing finish. But he has to be careful to not get too overzealous because Edwards has the confidence, the belt and the hometown crowd’s energy behind him.
Yes, Jack Shore is coming off a loss — the first of his career — but I am a bit perplexed by the match up against Makwan Amirkhani. That’s because Amirkhani is coming off a knockout loss to to Jonathan Pearce and has lost four of his last five fights. Prior to his upset loss to Ricky Simon, Shore had won 16 straight and his first five fights under the UFC banner. I would have much rather seen “Tank” get paired up with someone not mired in such a big slump.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
Gunnar Nelson was originally set to face Daniel Rodriguez before “D-Rod” pulled out of the fight for undisclosed reasons. As a result, Bryan Barberena agreed to take the fight. It’s been a whole year since we’ve seen “Gunni” in action, snapping his two-fight win streak with a win over Takashi Soto in March 2022. It was a smart move on Barberena’s part to take the fight, especially since he is coming off a submission loss to Rafael dos Anjos. So, if he can take out Nelson it will help him erase the memory of the defeat and earn him some points with matchmakers.
Nathaniel Wood was forced out of his scheduled Featherweight showdown against Lerone Murphy with a gnarly leg injury, and was ultimately replaced by UFC newcomer, Gabriel Santos. Michal Figlak suffered an undisclosed injury and had no other choice but to withdraw from his fight against Chris Duncan. As a result, Omar Morales agreed to step in on short notice. Morales is hoping to snap his two-fight losing streak and spoil Duncan’s UFC debut in the process.
As we mentioned earlier, Chris Duncan finally got his chance at the big show after two stints on Contender Series. The former Bellator veteran has an impressive 9-1 record, while his foe — Omar Morales — is in dire need of a win after losing two straight and three of four overall. Kudos to Morales for taking the fight, but he needs to procure a win if he wants to remain a UFC fighter ... even if he did the promotion a solid.
Former Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) Featherweight contender, Gabriel Santos, will attempt to run up his undefeated record to 11-0 when he battles Lerone Murphy, who is equally as hot, coming into the event with an 11-0-1 record, including going 4-0 inside the Octagon. That said, Murphy hasn’t competed since Nov. 2021, so it remains to be seen if
cage corrosion ring rust will be a factor.
In short, someone’s “O” is going to go in this battle of rising prospects.
Former Cage Warriors Middleweight champion, Christian Leroy Duncan, is bringing his talents and his undefeated (7-0) record to the eight-walled cage against Dusko Todorovic, who is an even 3-3 since making his way out of Contender Series. Duncan is a finishing machine, stopping six of his seven opponents, three in the first round.
Sam Patterson and Yanal Ashmoz will face off in a Lightweight scrap that will feature two talented prospects looking to make some noise in a hurry. Patterson is 10-1-1 and is riding a six-fight win streak. His submission win over Vinicius Sacchelli Cenci on Contender Series was good enough to earn him a UFC contract, and now wants to make the most of it against a former Professional Fighters League (PFL) veteran. Ashmoz is 6-0 in his young combat career, with five of those victories coming by way of stoppage, three knockouts and two submissions.
Jafel Filho continued his finishing ways when he got the opportunity to show off his skills on Contender Series, submitting Roybert Echeverria to earn a contract. It was his fifth straight stoppage victory. In fact, he has finished 13 of his 14 fights, so he is all business and no fluff once the cage door slams shut. Standing in his way is Muhammad Mokaev, who is undefeated (9-0, 3-0 inside the Octagon). Mokaev has shown he’s got the goods to make some noise on the big stage, so if Filho can stop his momentum he will make an immediate impact.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
Veronica Macedo has had a tumultuous run so far inside the Octagon, coming up short in four of her five opportunities. Her opponent, Juliana Miller, is only four fights deep into her professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career. While it may seem like the promotion is giving Macedo a layup, it is anything but because Miller has finished all three of her opponents.
Ludovit Klein seems to be picking up some steam after he lost two in a row, earning back-to-back wins against Devonte Smith and Mason Jones. Jai Herbert, meanwhile, has been rather inconsistent when it comes to racking up the wins inside the Octagon, going 2-3 so far during his run. Something has got to give when they throw down in a Lightweight bout.
In the Flyweight division, Jake Hadley will face Malcom Gordon, who is coming off a loss to the aforementioned Mokaev, bringing his record to 2-3, which has prevented him from making any kind of impact. Hadley, meanwhile, is just 1-1 so far in his young UFC career, stumbling out of the gates in his debut bout against Allan Nascimento. He turned it around in his sophomore effort against Carlos Candelario and now looks to build on that momentum against a five-fight UFC veteran.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
There was a time when Joanne Wood was considered a potential title contender by some. In all reality, she never really mustered up enough wins together to be put into that conversation. Over the last two years, Wood has dropped three in a row and is a paltry 1-4 in her last five fights. Now, the soft-spoken scrapper faces a do-or-die situation going into her fight against Luana Carolina. Speaking of which, Carolina will look to bounce back herself after getting knocked out by Molly McCann more than one year ago.
Interest Level: 8/10
UFC 286’s co-main event is easily the favorite to steal the show and come away with post-fight bonuses because it will feature two of the most exciting and violent fighters at 155 pounds as Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev will go blow-for-blow.
Gaethje is just 1-2 over his last three contests and was last seen getting choked out by former division champion, Charles Oliveira, at UFC 274 (highlights). Currently holding the No. 3 spot in the division, Gaethje needs a win here to avoid falling out of the Top 5 and drifting away further from title contention. But, this is an even bigger opportunity for Fiziev, who has won six straight fights, three via knockout. If Fiziev can make a statement here he could find himself in the Top 5 since it will be the biggest win of his career to date.
In the women’s Flyweight division, Jennifer Maia and Casey O’Neill will meet in the center of the cage. Maia snapped her two-fight losing streak by getting passed Maryna Moroz in Nov. 2022. That helped her stay in the Top 15, but she will have a tough challenge ahead of her as she faces a rising, undefeated contender in O’Neill. At 9-0, 4-0 UFC, O-Neill is outside of the Top 10 looking in, but could make major waves if she can get through a former title contender.
Kicking off the PPV main card will be a hard-hitting Middleweight affair between Roman Dolidze and Marvin Vettori. Dolidze is on the rise after winning four straight to improve his UFC record to 6-1, inching closer to the Top 5. Vettori eventually reached a title fight after putting together five straight impressive wins, but came up short against former champion, Israel Adesanya. He tried his luck at Light Heavyweight and defeated Paulo Costa in his subsequent outing, only to lose to Robert Whittaker in his move back down to 185 pounds.
This is a crucial fight for both, but Dolidze has a big opportunity to make a huge jump in the rankings because defeating a former title challenger will raise his stock and, in most cases, take that rankings spot. “The Italian Dream” is ranked No. 4, so for Dolidze it’s a win-win situation all the way around. For Vettori, it’s his chance to remind the division why made it to the big dance and is prepared for a statement-making performance.
Enjoy the fights!
Full UFC 286 Fight Card:
UFC 286 PPV Main Event On ESPN+:
170 lbs.: UFC Welterweight champion Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman
UFC 286 PPV Main Card On ESPN+ (5 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Rafael Fiziev vs. Justin Gaethje
170 lbs.: Gunnar Nelson vs. Bryan Barberena
125 lbs.: Jennifer Maia vs. Casey O’Neill
185 lbs.: Roman Dolidze vs. Marvin Vettori
UFC 286 ‘Prelims’ Card On ESPN2, ESPN+ (3 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Makwan Amirkhani vs. Jack Shore
155 lbs.: Chris Duncan vs. Omar Morales
155 lbs.: Yanal Ashmoz vs. Sam Patterson
125 lbs.: Jafel Filho vs. Muhammad Mokaev
UFC 286 Early Prelims Card On ESPN+ (1 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Lerone Murphy vs. Gabriel Santos
185 lbs.: Christian Leroy Duncan vs. Dusko Todorovic
125 lbs.: Malcolm Gordon vs. Jake Hadley
125 lbs.: Luana Carolina vs. Joanne Wood
155 lbs.: Jai Herbert vs. Ludovit Klein
125 lbs.: Veronica Macedo vs. Juliana Miller
*Fight card, bout order and amount of fights remain subject to change.*
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 286 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN2/ESPN+ at 3 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 286: “Edwards vs. Usman 3” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.