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Monday Morning Hangover: What’s next for Kamaru Usman after latest Leon Edwards loss at UFC 286?

UFC 286 provided combat sports fans with a great night of fights this past weekend (Sat., March 18, 2023) inside The O2 in London, England. While there were several fighters celebrating their victories, there were just as many left feeling the post-fight blues.

Among them was Rafael Fiziev, who was busted open by Justin Gaethje during their epic three-round war that saw “Ataman” come up short on the judges’ scorecards (recap here). And the allegedly “greased” Casey O’Neill, who suffered the first loss of her mixed martial arts (MMA) career at the hands of Jennifer Maia.

But, which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now a few days removed from the show?

Kamaru Usman.

Coming into his trilogy fight against current Welterweight champion, Leon Edwards, Usman was high on confidence despite getting knocked out in their rematch seven months ago (see it again here). And he had every right to feel that way. After all, “The Nigerian Nightmare” did have a dominant win over “Rocky” in the first meeting, and he was — for all intents and purposesup on the scorecards going into the final round of their second fight.

Still, all that was in the past and Usman was looking forward to a future as UFC champion once again. Unfortunately it was not to be, because once the scorecards were tallied, Edwards went home with a majority decision, going up 2-1 in their great rivalry.

The contest was close, to be fair, and Edwards didn’t dominate the fight. While “Rocky” had enough moments to win the judges over, there were several in the MMA community who felt “The Nigerian Nightmare” had done enough to get the belt back. But, the only opinions that matter were the those of the three judges sitting cageside.

“A special thank you to my management, family, friends, and fans. I appreciate each and everyone of you. Wasn’t my night but as always we go back to work. Congratulations Leon Edwards, great work,” Usman said in a post-fight tweet.

As I mentioned earlier, the fight could have gone the other way and there probably wouldn’t have been much uproar — except from the English fans — so Usman can hold his head up high. Despite the two straight defeats, Usman, 35, does not appear to be washed and/or on a decline after suffering the devastating knockout loss back in 2022.

As far as what could realistically be next for the former 170-pound champion, that’s a bit tough to decipher at the moment. Edwards will likely face Colby Covington next, while Jorge Masvidal and Gilbert Burns will fight one another at UFC 287, and a fight between Belal Muhammad and Shavkat Rakhmonov is reportedly in the works.

So, if we look at everything that is on deck in the stacked 170-pound weight class, the only fighter remaining without a dance partner is Khamzat Chimaev, who is undefeated (12-0, 6-0 UFC). The question is whether or not UFC matchmakers would actually book this fight — which at one time people were salivating for — now that Usman is on a two-fight skid.

It’s a weighty decision for a Dana White and Co.

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.

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