Check out UFC 286 tips and previews for all five main card fights from London, including the trilogy headliner between Leon Edwards and Kumara Usman for the vacant UFC Welterweight Championship.
UFC 286 Tips – Leon Edwards V Kamaru Usman
- Edwards – 20-3-1 (7 wins by KO/TKO)
- Usman – 20-2 (9 wins by KO/TKO)
- Edwards def Kamaru Usman – Rd 5 KO – UFC 278, August 2022
- Usman lost to Leon Edwards – Rd 5 KO – UFC 278, August 2022
Analysis: Leon Edwards makes his first defence of the UFC Welterweight Championship against the long-serving champ he won it off last August, Kamaru Usman.
It was an unforgettable bout in Salt Lake City. Usman appeared headed for his sixth straight title defence by unanimous decision, until Edwards unleashed a head kick in the last minute of the fifth round to snatch the belt. The KO ended the seemingly unbeatable Usman’s 19-fight winning streak.
Not that Edwards wasn’t a worthy contender. He arrived at that title challenge on a nine-bout winning streak, winning decisions over the likes of Donald Cerrone, Rafael dos Anjos and Nate Diaz in recent years. Perhaps more remarkable was the fact it was only his second KO/TKO victory since 2015.
The fact remains ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ controlled every facet of their last encounter between Edwards’ early takedown and the shock finish.
Another captivating contest looms but it’s no surprise to see challenger Usman, one of the greatest fighters of the past decade, as a $1.41 favourite. Edwards is yet to suffer a knockout or submission victory in his career, though, so Usman will probably have to go the distance to regain the belt.
Tip: Method of Victory – Usman by Points @ $2.15
UFC 286 Tips – Justin Gaethje V Rafael Fiziev
- Gaethje – 23-4 (19 wins by KO/TKO)
- Fiziev – 12-1 (8 wins by KO/TKO)
- Gaethje lost to Charles Oliveira – Rd 1 submission – UFC 274, May 2022
- Fiziev def Rafael dos Anjos – Rd 5 KO – UFC on ESPN, July 2022
Analysis: A vital showdown between two top-six lightweight contenders.
Third-ranked Justin Gaethje is the better credentialled fighter and has squared off most of the division’s big dogs. But he’s a $2.93 underdog.
After wins over Donald Cerrone (2019) and Tony Ferguson (2020), Gaethje fought Khabib Nurmagomedov for the Lightweight Championship but lost by second-round submission. Bouncing back with a decision over Michael Chandler, Gaethje received another title shot but lost by first-round submission to Charles Oliveira.
Kazakh Rafael Fiziev has been making plenty of noise in and out of the octagon, going on a six-fight winning streak since losing on UFC debut back in 2019. Three of his last four victories have come by knockout, stopping REnato Moicano, Brad Riddell and – in July 2022 – Rafael dos Anjos to earn three Performance of the Night bonuses.
An absolute barnburner looms and I’ll take Gaethje’s vast experience to pip the charismatic Fiziev’s dangerous striking ability.
Tip: Result – Gaethje @ $2.93
UFC 286 Tips – Gunnar Nelson V Bryan Barberena
- Nelson – 18-5-1 (4 wins by KO/TKO)
- Barberena – 18-9 (11 wins by KO/TKO)
- Nelson def Takashi Sato – Unanimous decision – UFC Fight Night, March 2022
- Barberena lost to Rafael dos Anjos – Rd 2 submission – UFC on ESPN, December 2022
Analysis: Gunnar Nelson will be looking to parlay the familiar surrounds of the O2 Arena into a second straight victory in the welterweight division against American Bryan Barberena.
Iceland’s Nelson emerged from a rough 1-3 run – including defeats in his previous two matches – and a two-and-a-half year layoff to beat Takashi Sato by unanimous decision in London last March.
The experienced Barberena’s three-fight winning streak, which included a TKO victory over Robbie Lawler in July last year, was halted by a second-round submission loss to Rafael dos Anjos in December.
It’s a contest between Nelson’s wrestling prowess and Barberena’s superior striking. Nelson, the $1.25 favourite, boasts 12 submissions in his 18 career victories.
Tip: Method of Victory – Nelson by Submission @ $2.20
UFC 286 Tips – Jennifer Maia V Casey O’Neill
- Maia – 20-9-1 (4 wins by KO/TKO)
- O’Neill – 9-0 (3 wins by KO/TKO)
- Maia def Maryna Moroz – Unanimous decision – UFC Fight Night, November 2022
- O’Neill def Roxanne Modafferi – Split decision – UFC 271, February 2022
Analysis: Jennifer Maia (eighth) and Casey O’Neill (12th) are both looking to this bout as a springboard for climbing up the women’s flyweight rankings.
Experienced Brazilian Maia has fought for the title before, losing a decision to current champ Valentina Shevchenko. She’s only 2-2 since, though, losing decisions to Katlyn Chookagian and Manon Fiorot early last year before scoring a victory over Maryna Moroz on points in November.
Scottish-born Aussie O’Neill is unbeaten in her nine-fight career, joining the UFC in 2021 and chalking up wins over Shana Dobson (TKO), Lara Procopio (submission), Antonina Shevchenko (TKO) and Roxanne Modafferi (split decision). The 25-year-old is returning to the octagon after 13 months and ring rust may be a factor but she’s the $1.60 favourite here.
Maia has been stopped just twice in 30 fights (one knockout, one submission) and O’Neill is likely to have to go the distance to get the result.
Tip: Method of Victory – O’Neill by Points @ $2,25
UFC 286 Tips – Martin Vettori V Roman Dolidze
- Vettori – 18-6 (2 wins by KO/TKO)
- Dolidze – 12-1 (7 wins by KO/TKO)
- Vettori lost to Robert Whittaker – Unanimous decision – UFC Fight Night, September 2022
- Dolidze def Jack Hermansson – Rd 2 TKO – UFC on ESPN, December 2022
Analysis: Fourth-ranked middleweight contender Martin Vettori is a $1.37 favourite to account for Georgian 34-year-old Roman Dolidze.
Italy’s Vettori is aiming to regroup from two losses from his last three fights, losing decisions to Israel Adesanya (for the UFC Middleweight Championship) and Robert Whittaker either side of his October 2021 points victory over Paulo Costa on light heavyweight debut.
Dolidze is the ninth-ranked contender in the middleweight division and is 6-1 since linking with the UFC in 2020. He was busy last year, knocking out Kyle Daukaus, Phil Hawes and Jack Hermansson all in the space of six months, garnering three Performance of the Night nods.
Vettori only has two knockouts in his career, while Dolidze has seven in 13 career bouts and has never been stopped. I like Dolidze’s underdog value here.