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UFC 286: Edwards vs Usman 3 - Mar 18 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿


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Back in London at the O2 for the trilogy decider…

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PPV MAIN CARD
Leon Edwards©️vs Kamaru Usman - Welterweight Title 

Justin Gaethje vs Rafael Fiziev

Gunnar Nelson vs Bryan Barberena 

Jennifer Maia vs Casey O’Neill

Marvin Vettori vs Roman Dolidze 

ESPN PRELIMS 
Jack Shore vs Makwan Amirkhani

Chris Duncan vs Omar Morales

Sam Patterson vs Yanal Ashmoz

Muhammad Mokaev vs Jafel Filho

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS 
Lerone Murphy vs Gabriel Santos

Christian Leroy Duncan vs Dusko Todorovic 

Jake Hadley vs Malcolm Gordon 

Joanne Wood vs Luana Carolina

Jai Herbert vs Ludovit Klein 

Veronica Hardy vs Juliana Miller

 

Poster looking like a £20 note 🤣 Very top heavy show this. Under the co-main it looks like a Fight Night but there’s stuff to like scattered throughout the card. I like it. Certainly wouldn’t have paid the extortionate ticket prices I saw floating about though. If it was in Birmingham then I probably would but factoring in travelling to London, hotel costs and all that, nah. Oh this is on BT Sport Box Office as well by the way but at least it’s on our timezone. According to UFC’s website, the main card starts at 9pm.

 

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Leon Edwards vs Kamaru Usman 3 tops the bill. This is surely the biggest fight the UFC have ever put on over here, right? The only one I can think of that comes close is the Rampage Jackson vs Dan Henderson fight all the way back in 2007 with it being the big UFC vs Pride title unification match just months after Pride shut down. That was huge at the time. But even still, this feels even bigger given the history between them, how their last fight ended, Usman’s previous status of being right near the top of the pound-for-pound list and just the fact that Edwards is one of our own. It’s the biggest fight the UFC will have ever done on UK soil and it’s all because of that mad and magical night back in August.

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Nobody saw that shit coming. I remember seeing some people predicting Edwards might win but you always get that. Nobody was predicting him to knock Usman out cold with a headkick though. And in a fight he was less than a minute away from losing on the scorecards. It was absolutely mental. To pull that out in the last minute of a title fight, against one of the greatest fighters in Welterweight history, was legendary stuff. It wasn’t the fight of the year but when you look back at 2022, it was definitely the ‘moment’ of the year. Nothing beats it. And it’s not like Edwards had been known as a big finisher going in, which made the way the fight ended even more shocking.

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That picture tells the story right there. I’m gonna rewatch it and review it in here before this rubber match. Obviously I’ve seen the finish a million times by now but I haven’t watched the whole fight back since it happened. There was the usual bollocks from some twats calling it a fluke. The fact the kick came in the 5th round of a fight Edwards was losing was always gonna bring some of that silliness. But he was looking to set that up the whole fight, attacking the legs and body to gradually bring Usman’s guard down. Edwards was just waiting for that opening and when Usman dropped his hands and ducked in at the end of the 5th round, Edwards was on it like a shot and whipped that kick up there. It wasn’t a fluke. He didn’t throw that kick just to throw it for the sake of it. It was calculated and videos came out after the fight of Leon and his team planning for and drilling the exact headkick that ended up winning him the title.

It was such a cool moment seeing Edwards win. And I like Usman. Nothing against him but it was incredible to see Leon pull that win off. A man who trains just a few miles from where I live knocked out one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport! Unbelievable. And when you know the backstory of Leon’s life, his Dad being murdered, his Mum struggling on her own to bring the kids up, getting involved in gangs and crime himself. He’s said a few times that it was his Mum who triggered his initial interest in getting into the sport and turning his life in a positive direction. The story goes that when Leon was 17, his Mum spotted a MMA gym in Erdington (my sister lives there!) while waiting for a bus and not only convinced him to give it a go, she scrimped and saved the money to pay for his membership. So to see the backstage footage of him calling her after winning the title and breaking down on the phone was a pretty powerful moment.

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Apparently, since winning the title, he’s opened up a restaurant for his Mum to run.

“It was good to give back to my mum, just to be able to do that for her. She’s always mentioned it since I was young that she wanted to open a restaurant. People ask me ‘what did I splurge on after my fight’ but I’ve already got everything I need. So I got that for my mum and that made me happy, she enjoys it and it’s doing well.” - Leon Edwards

So they’re 1-1 now. It seems like a lifetime ago now since Usman outpointed Edwards in their first fight in 2015. They were on the prelims that night! They’ve both came a long way since and this couldn’t be further from prelim fodder. This is for all the marbles. The title, the bragging rights, the legacy, who gets the last say in the trilogy. The lot.

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It’s gonna be very interesting to see how Usman comes back from that knockout. He’d never been knocked out before that night, was on a 19 fight winning streak and had successfully defended the title 5 times. He beat Colby Covington twice, Jorge Masvidal twice, Gilbert Burns, Tyron Woodley, Rafael Dos Anjos, Demian Maia and Leon Edwards along the way. Just an amazing run. And he was well on his way to beating Edwards again before that history making kick landed. Usman’s been fairly quiet since the loss. He appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast a few months ago and came across really well but, aside from that, he seems to have kept a low profile. What I took away from his appearance on Rogan’s podcast though, was how well he seemed to have handled the loss. There was zero bitterness or excuse making. He gave Leon his credit, vowed to be better next time and then dipped out of the limelight. I think he’ll be back strong. People are talking like he’s shot or something but, again, he was winning that last fight with Edwards before that kick connected. It’s not like he’d looked bad in the fight before that or had shown signs of declining or whatever. The first time he lost in his career he came back and won 19 fights in a row and a UFC title. He’ll be more motivated than ever to get that gold back. But you have to wonder how much longer he’ll be able to go at this level. He turns 36 years old in May and there’s been reports that his knees have been a mess for a while now. And there were strong doubts at one point that he’d even make it to this fight due to a nagging hand injury. There were talks of Edwards defending against Jorge Masvidal or Belal Muhammad instead. Usman’s in though.

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Back at the O2 in London. I’ll be honest, I was a bit disappointed that they’re going to the O2 again for this. Are they ever going anywhere but London again? Within days of Edwards winning the title in August, talk started up of doing the trilogy decider against Usman in the UK. Dana was all over it saying they were gonna shuffle some cards around and make it happen, he was on about stadiums and all sorts. I remember Cardiff being mentioned a lot, which would’ve been cool if they were doing a stadium show. And maybe I’m being selfish but…Birmingham? It’s only Leon’s home city after all. They haven’t been here since 2011, for fuck’s sake! If Leon Edwards winning the title can’t force them back to Brum then I’ve given up on them ever coming back. Granted Brum wouldn’t have been some huge stadium show but neither is the O2. If they were just gonna do a normal arena it should’ve been Birmingham. It’s his actual hometown. Bitterness aside, it should be a pretty special night. Fair play to Usman for being willing to come over to the UK to try and get the belt back. I’m sure a lot of dominant former champions would’ve complained about that but I’m sure I read that Usman specifically said he wanted to do it in the UK. He’s out to prove a point.

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Can’t bastard wait. How does this go? I’ll be honest, as much as I’d love to see Edwards get that moment of winning the trilogy, in the UK, and cementing himself as the proper champion, I favoured Usman going into the second fight and I’m kind of still leaning that way now. You just know he’s gonna leave no stone unturned in training camp for this. He can’t afford to lose two straight to the same man. And what better way to get redemption than to win this fight, win the trilogy, reclaim that UFC gold and do it in Edwards’ backyard? But a part of me is thinking Edwards might just do it again now. Usman was saying all the right things in the immediate fallout of the loss but once the cage door shuts is that loss gonna fuck with him mentally? Does Edwards have the psychological edge now? They’re both gonna have to make adjustments. Then there’s the x-factor of the crowd which could push Leon more or does the pressure get to him? This will probably be the first real pro Leon Edwards crowd. Which is pretty sad really that it’s taken him volleying Usman’s head and becoming champion to finally get some love. Even on one of the past UK cards he got booed. And don’t get me started on the glory hunting Yanks who suddenly became Edwards fans after the last fight. I expect this’ll be a different, bigger and much more positive reaction than Leon has ever experienced so it’ll be interesting to see if that effects his performance at all. I’ll leave it there. Could bang on about this fight all day. As I type this I’m about 51/49 in favour of Usman redeeming himself and winning the series 2-1 but because of how that last fight ended, because of that one kick, I think there are a bunch of variables that could play into this rubber match now. Fascinating stuff.

 

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Justin Gaethje vs Rafael Fiziev is this card’s ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** and I can’t wait for it. I know this was the obvious pick and I’d usually try and highlight something below the co-main but sod it. This is just one of those pairings that gets everyone buzzing the second it’s announced. As far as I know this is a 3 round fight but I’d love to see them given 5 rounds. Fuck it. They’ve done it before for certain non-title co-headliners and this feels like one that warrants it. They mightn’t need more than 3 but I like the idea of them having 25 minutes to play with just incase. I think the extra couple of rounds would make this even more interesting because Fiziev seems to warm up as the fight goes deeper. Whatever the case, it’s gonna be bags of fun this one.

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We haven’t seen Gaethje since he lost to Charles Oliveira in May. That’s two failed title shots in his last 3 fights now so he’s out of the race for the time being. That Oliveira fight was nuts though. About as good as a 3 minute fight gets and he certainly had his moments in there. Just didn’t go his way and once it hit the ground and Oliveira got his back, it was a wrap. Of course, Gaethje had that barmy FOTY candidate with Michael Chandler before that. There aren’t many fighters in the history of MMA who have been as consistently exciting to watch as Gaethje. His fights with Dustin Poirier, Eddie Alvarez, Tony Ferguson and Michael Johnson were ridiculous. As were his couple of wars against Luis Palomino in WSOF (now PFL) years ago. Just an absolute lunatic. He’s 23-4 now and still in the mix at the top of the Lightweight division due to the number next to his name. He’s currently ranked #3 so a couple of big wins and, depending on who’s the champ at the time, there’s a way back into title contention for him. I just don’t know though. His style isn’t one that typically lends itself to a long career and he’s already probably got a longer run than he should’ve done out of it. He’s insanely tough but I get the feeling that’s gonna run out on him soon like we’ve seen with Tony Ferguson.

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Fiziev’s a different cat. He’s not the wildman Gaethje is but he’s dangerous as fuck on the feet and, you know Gaethje, that’s where this fight is gonna play out. Fiziev put together a 39-8 record in Kickboxing before making the jump over to MMA. He first caught my attention when those clips and gifs started doing the rounds of him doing his Matrix lean back to avoid headkicks. Loved that shit. He got stopped in a round by Magomed Mustafaev in his UFC debut, a blip on his record that seems to have been completely forgotten now because he’s put together a sweet 6 fight win streak since. Along the way he racked up wins over Marc Diakiese, Renato Moicano and Bobby Green. In late 2021 he finished Brad Riddell with a nasty spinning kick to the dome. Then in his last fight in July he scored his biggest win to date when he knocked out Rafael Dos Anjos in the 5th round of their main event.

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I remember people actually crying early stoppage at the time but RDA was absolutely bollocksed, especially when that shot on the ground connected. He was 100% done. The ref just saved him further damage. The thing was though, Fiziev didn’t look overly impressive in that fight. I said at the time, I think he was fortunate to get that late knockout because his performance might’ve got some criticism if he hadn’t. It was kind of glossed over because of how it ended though and it’s looked at more favourably as a result. Regardless, he got it done in the end. And although I didn’t think he set the world alight before the KO, he still stopped RDA. That’s something the likes of Usman, Edwards and Covington couldn’t manage up at 170lbs. So there’s still positives to take from it. Fiziev’s ranked #6 so a win here would give him a nice boost up the pecking order and should land him another big fight against another top name in the division. Not really sure about this one. My initial gut feeling was that Fiziev wins just because he’s the sharper more experienced striker. But Gaethje has a knack for dragging opponents into slobberknockers and then it’s anyone’s. And if it’s only 3 rounds I think that might actually favour Gaethje because he won’t have to conserve energy and can just go balls to the wall. Love this fight. Probably am slightly leaning towards a Fiziev win though. I just have this feeling Gaethje might be about to go on the downswing and Fiziev might just be catching him at the right time.

 

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Gunnar Nelson vs Bryan Barberena is a good solid fight. It was originally going to be Gunnar against Daniel Rodriguez but D-Rod dropped out. This is a more than decent replacement. Seems like an age ago now but there was quite a lot of buzz around Gunnar at one point, wasn’t there? Anyone remember that? Back when he was a teammate of Conor McGregor during McGregor’s initial skyrocketing to the top. Gunnar was this stoic badass grappler that many thought had a bright future in the Welterweight division. It fizzled out though. I remember his loss to Demian Maia in particular feeling like it completely ruined the bit of an aura he was building up. Gunnar was coming up as this grappling phenom and then Maia just pulls rank on him and shows him who the Daddy really is. Gunnar had a couple of semi decent wins after that but seemed to fall off the face of the earth after his loss to Gilbert Burns in 2019. Just vanished for 3 years before finally returning on last year’s London card and beating Takashi Sato on points. I recall him looking pretty good in that one, especially considering the layoff, but I think the ship’s sailed on him making much of a splash at the top end of 170. This is a fight that should favour him though. On paper at least. Barberena’s hard as nails and game as fuck. The fact he’s taken this fight on short notice, jumping in against another strong grappler after being submitted by Rafael Dos Anjos in his last fight, just tells you the mentality of ‘Bam Bam’. The man’s fearless. Never looks for the easy route. He was coming off the two biggest wins of his career going into that RDA fight as well. He beat Matt Brown and Robbie Lawler in back-to-back bangers last year before getting throttled by RDA in December. I think Gunnar is a more winnable fight for him than RDA but still not an ideal matchup for him stylistically. Barberena does well when he’s in with guys who will stand and brawl with him. That’s not Gunnar.

 

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Jennifer Maia vs Casey O’Neill is just there really but it’s alright in that it’s a bit of a test for O’Neill. Maia isn’t that good but she’s a little tank, she’s strong and she’s gone the distance with Valentina Shevchenko. O’Neill is undefeated at 9-0 but she still seems quite green at the moment. She did beat Val’s sister Antonina Shevchenko a while back but that isn’t the strongest win. And in her last fight she only managed a split decision win over a Roxanne Modafferi who was retiring. As you can probably tell, I’m not that convinced yet. And now she’s been out a whole year since that Modafferi win. Not the best. I don’t exactly have high expectations for this.

 

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Marvin Vettori vs Roman Dolidze is one of my favourite fights on this card. Didn’t even know this was booked until just now. They both seem a bit nuts so why not pair them off against each other, I guess? Vettori is a proper meatheaded twat. No getting away from it. That photo that was everywhere a while back of him wearing his Venum shorts back to front said it all. He’s not the full shilling. Not a bad fighter though. He’s been outclassed when he’s stepped in with the likes of Adesanya and Whittaker but wins over Paulo Costa, Kevin Holland and Jack Hermansson isn’t bad going. And he showed in the Costa fight especially that he’s up for a scrap with anyone. That was a really good fight. He’s a knob though. He’s said a few goofy things over the years but most recently he’s joined the growing list of tragic figures who put that Andrew Tate cretin on a pedestal. There’s little more cringe at the moment than seeing grown men calling someone who’s been done for trafficking women “Top G”.

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That’s how Dolidze’s last fight ended. Loved the way he used the leg to trap Hermansson for the ground and pound finish. He’s developing a bit of a habit of that now. He knocked out Phil Hawes in his previous fight and that all started with him briefly using a leg lock and then when they got up, Hawes was gimpy kneed and ended up getting flattened with a punch. I’m starting to like Dolidze. He got off to a bit of a lukewarm start in the UFC but he seems to have found his feet now. He’s 12-1 with 10 of his wins inside the distance and he’s now on a 4 fight win streak with POTN bonus winning finishes in his last 3. The Hermansson win was his best yet and this is a step up from that so it’s a good opportunity for him to catapult himself up the ladder. Vettori’s mixed with most of the top 185ers and he’s never been finished, so if Dolidze can put him away it’ll be a big statement.

 

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Jack Shore vs Makwan Amirkhani is gonna be an interesting one just because it’s the first time we’re seeing Shore since he suffered his first defeat at the hands of Ricky Simon back in July. Simon subbed him via arm triangle in the second round. Shore was 16-0 going in and had been looking really good. The main talking point going into his fights had become about card placement. In his 6 fights in the UFC, he’d never been on a main card. Always the prelims. The question would always come up why he wasn’t getting any higher up the card. Then the Simon loss happened and here he is still on the prelims.

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I’d like to see him get back to winning ways here. Seems a good guy and he’s only just turned 28. It was his first loss, not the end of the world. What’s interesting about this is not only to see how he rebounds from that first loss, he’s also moving up to Featherweight. He did compete at 145 early in his career but the bulk of his success, the Cage Warriors title and all that, came at Bantamweight. Looking forward to seeing how he does at 145. Amirkhani is a guy Shore should beat quite comfortably, I reckon. He’s not awful but he’s not had the best of UFC runs. Pretty much every time he’s tried to step up a level, he’s lost. I think this one goes the same way.

 

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Chris Duncan vs Omar Morales. Don’t know. It’s Duncan’s debut and I’ve never seen him fight before. He’s Scottish and he’s 9-1, 8 inside the distance, mostly knockouts. He’s coming off a quick KO win on DWCS in August. Looking at his record the only name I recognise is Viacheslav Borshchev and ‘Slava Claus’ knocked him out on a DWCS show in 2021. Morales is Venezuelan with a 11-3 record. He’s been in the UFC for a few years now and isn’t much cop. Coming off back-to-back stoppage losses and he’s 37 years old. If Duncan has anything about him he should have a successful Octagon debut here, I reckon.

 

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Sam Patterson vs Yanal Ashmoz. Not a clue on this. Never seen either fight before. Patterson is British but he hasn’t taken the typical route most UK fighters do these days of going through Cage Warriors, winning their title and then jumping to the big show. He’s fought most of his career in the Brave promotion. He’s 26 years old with a 10-1-1 record and 9 finishes. Got a submission win on DWCS back in September and here we are. Ashmoz is Israeli and unbeaten at 6-0 with 5 finishes. His last fight was in PFL last March and he won by decision. Not much else I can find on him. Neither sound like bad signings, be worth a look.

 

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Muhammad Mokaev vs Jafel Filho is a bit of an odd one. Mokaev’s been talked about as one of the most promising up and comers on the roster since he made his UFC debut a year ago. He breezed through Cody Durden in less than a minute that night and really couldn’t have dreamed of a more perfect introduction to the big stage. Since then he’s beat Charles Johnson on points and submitted Malcolm Gordon. Only 22 years old and undefeated at 9-0-0-1, there’s definitely potential there. I’ve felt like some have been a bit harsh with the criticism and expectations on him so far at times. You have to take into account his age and he’s still very much a work in progress. But he is very vocal so he kind of opens himself up to the critics. He’s always talking about being the youngest UFC champ, smashing everybody etc. Part of me likes the confidence but I do get the impression he’s starting to believe his own hype a bit. I can’t help thinking he’s gonna talk himself into an arse kicking before too long. He was going back and forth with Amir Albazi on Twitter recently, I think he’s biting off more than he can chew there. That’s a fight I don’t think ends well for him at this stage. But the choice of opponent here is a bit strange. He’s 3-0 in the UFC now and now they’re putting him against a guy making his debut? To be fair, Filho’s not got a bad record. He’s coming off a stoppage win on DWCS in September and he’s 14-2 with 13 finishes. There’s nothing much else out there on him though. Just feels like a step sideways or even backwards for Mokaev. Maybe the matchmakers have realised he’s not quite ready for a proper step up yet. Then again, maybe Filho is a step up and I just don’t know it yet. We’ll see. After the initial buzz and spectacular squash match debut though, I think the UFC brass are gonna take it slow with Mokaev now. Probably a smart move really.

 

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Lerone Murphy vs Gabriel Santos has just been chucked on the card a week out from the show. Not sure why this has been thrown together so late in the day but whatever. Nice to see Murphy get on the card. He was supposed to fight Nathaniel Wood, which would have been a cool little UK vs UK domestic clash, but Wood withdrew. Murphy’s pretty much the forgotten man as far as UK fighters go. He’s shown flashes of real potential but there’s just been such a lack of activity that he’s built up no momentum.

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That was the last time we saw him. October 2021 at UFC 267 in Abu Dhabi. He knocked out Makwan Amirkhani with a vicious knee. It felt like the kind of win and finish that might finally kickstart a run for him but he’s been on the shelf ever since. He’s only fought 3 times in nearly 3 years. Not the best. He’s 31 years old now and still unbeaten at 11-0-1. The lone blemish being a split draw against Zubaira Tukhugov in 2019. Hopefully he can finally stay active and kick on with his career now. Santos might be a rough return fight though. He’s 26 years old, also undefeated, 10-0 with 7 finishes and is the LFA Featherweight champion.

 

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Christian Leroy Duncan vs Dusko Todorovic has my attention. Of the UK fighters making their UFC debut on this card, this is the one I’m most interested in. Christian Leroy Duncan is 27 years old out of Gloucester. Undefeated at 7-0 with 6 finishes and is the Cage Warriors Middleweight champion. I’ve only really seen clips but his striking looks good and whether he goes far or not, at the very least he should be a fun addition to the roster.

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Just as big a reason for me being into this fight though, isn’t just CLD’s debut, it’s who they’ve matched him up with. Serbian slugger Todorovic doesn’t play around. He’s 28 years old with a record of 12-3 and 11 finishes. He’s come up short a few times and been stopped a couple of times but Todorovic brings it. He’s coming into this fight off a FOTN winning stoppage win over Jordan Wright in October. Pretty much the perfect debut opponent for Duncan on paper because he’s aggressive, he’ll hold up his end of making it entertaining but he’s also beatable and has been stopped a few times. Should be fireworks however long it lasts.

 

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Jake Hadley vs Malcolm Gordon is another solid fight in the Flyweight division. Hopefully Hadley makes weight with no issues. He did last time, in fairness. It’s just ever since that controversy on DWCS, I’m just expecting him to fuck up somehow. I’d like to root for him being a fellow Brummie. There’s just something quite unlikeable about him though. I can’t take to him. He looked good in his last fight, to be fair. Submitted Carlos Candelario back in November and it was a real nice all around performance. Much better than his debut. He’s 9-1 now with 7 finishes and had won titles in a bunch of different promotions before signing with the UFC. He’s another guy who’s had a bit of beef online with Mokaev so that could be a good little domestic rivalry down the road. Hadley’s got Malcolm Gordon to get past first thought. Gordon was also Mokaev’s last opponent so it’ll be interesting to compare Hadley’s performance against him to Mokaev’s. Gordon is Canadian, former TKO champion and has a record of 14-6. Haven’t been overly impressed with him though. Hadley should be winning this really.

 

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Joanne Wood vs Luana Carolina is nothing to write home about but I’m a fan of Joanne Wood though so it’s at least a fight I’m a little bit invested in and I’m gonna be rooting for her. One of the most likeable people on the roster for me. Although I could swear she retired after getting submitted by Alexa Grasso in her last fight. Looking it up now she just said she needed to “take time away”. It’s probably time to start thinking about packing it in though. She’s coming off 3 straight losses now and was subbed in her last 2. She’s always been inconsistent but at 36 years old, she’s not gonna be making significant progress or improvements either. It’s gonna be a shame if she ends up retiring without ever even getting a shot at UFC gold but I think it’s clear that it’s passed her by now. Always got time for ‘Dr Kneevil’ though. The results don’t always go her way but she does some cool shit with her strikes.

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That can’t have been fun 😬 this is a fight she should be winning, in my opinion. Luana Carolina isn’t much good. I get the impression Wood is pretty well liked behind the scenes and they’re trying to get her a win here with it being in the UK. But I’m never confident when it comes to picking her to win. We last saw Carolina getting knocked dead by Molly McCann’s spinning elbow on last March’s London card. Now a year later, almost to the day, she returns to the scene of the crime at the O2. I feel bad but I’m fully hoping she gets twatted again. Can’t go against Kneevil.

 

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Jai Herbert vs Ludovit Klein should be an entertaining standup battle. Herbert came into the UFC as Cage Warriors champ but it hasn’t gone too well for him so far. They did him no favours, to be fair. He got Trinaldo and Moicano his first 2 fights in and got finished in both. He‘s picked up wins over Khama Worthy and Kyle Nelson since but the most notable fight so far for me was his corker against Ilia Topuria on the London show last March. Topuria’s looked a total beast in every fight I’ve seen so far and, although Herbert did get knocked out by him, he gave Topuria a proper fight before that. There was one headkick he landed and I honestly don’t know how Topuria survived it. It was brutal. He’s never gonna be a contender in the UFC’s 155 division, it’s just not happening. But he’s got some good striking and he’s always a welcome addition on these UK cards for me. Klein’s cut from similar cloth as well. 19-4 record with 16 finishes, has some nasty headkicks of his own from what I remember and he’s coming off a points win over Mason Jones. Genuinely think this could end up being a bit of a darkhorse show stealer.

 

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Veronica Hardy vs Juliana Miller is pure filler. Of course, Hardy fought in the UFC a few years ago as Veronica Macedo. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll probably know she’s been with Dan Hardy for a while now and in her time away they got married recently.

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All these years out of the cage and Dan’s still punching. She’s lovely but sadly that means fuck all in the cage and I’ve never really rated her as a fighter. I didn’t even know she was still on the roster. I don’t know if she was there all along and just inactive or if they let her go and rehired her for some reason. Either way, she’s got an abysmal 6-4-1 record and hasn’t fought since a decision loss against Bea Malecki in 2020. The most noteworthy thing about her return is that hubby Dan is gonna be cornering her. Which will be the first time he’s been involved in any capacity with a UFC event since they let him go. Juliana Miller is 3-1 and I’ve only seen her fight once but just based on that, I think she ragdolls poor Veronica here. Miller beat down and stopped Brogan Walker to win TUF over the summer and she looked a bit of a handful on the ground. I think it’s ending in tears for the Hardys myself.

 

That’s your lot. 

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Edited by wandshogun09
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Great write up again! Any time Gaethje is in there is a special event. Its impossible for this man not to have a fight of the year candidate every time he fights.

Leon is a 2/1 dog in the betting, which I think isnt long enough. Admittedly, I havent watch the fight since it happened, but my memory of it is that Usman absolutley dominated the entire thing. He was in complete control for the duration, and making it look so easy that even when Leon was a few seconds from landing the KO kick, the commentators were all saying hes given up, and was happy to take the decision loss. I do remember thinking why he wasnt really going for it at the end of R4 and into R5, when it was clear hes was losing. The perfect head kick sort of disguises the fact that even for all of R5, he wasnt desperately trying to slug it out with Usman. Had the kick not landed, we would all be wondering why he didnt go for it more. Usman as a 2/1 favourate seems very generous.

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Lot of the undercard fighters look like generated characters for UFC 4.

 

Daniel Rodriguez has to be the poster child for the shite MMA tattoos thread don't he? A cage tattoo...1986...a fucking kiss on his cheek??

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Another great write up, Wand. I really wish it was happening in Brum for you. Hopefully me and my neighbour are going halves on this on Box Office. 

I only remembered recently that I actually saw a Leon Edwards fight live on the prelims of UFC 204 in Manchester. It might've cost a kidney for a ticket for the London fans this time, but at least they don't have to be in the arena at 3 in the morning like we did. 

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Looks like Daniel Rodriguez is out of the Gunnar Nelson fight. Gunnar posted something hinting at a change to his fight. And now Bryan Barberena’s tweeted this…

Gunnar vs Barberena is a nice substitute if true. And not even that much of a change for Gunnar, to be honest. Barberena and D-Rod aren’t that different style-wise really. Might be wrong but I think they’re even both southpaws. Basically the same fight for Gunnar, although I think Bam Bam’s definitely a bit more wild and unorthodox. 

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Posted (edited)

Not like he ever looks out of shape but Usman looks in ridiculous nick for this one. Him and Gaethje being in camp together aiming to peak for the same night is surely gonna be a big boost for both as well. 

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Edited by wandshogun09
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Updated the opening post with the (hopefully) final bout order. One week out now. Any of you going to this? I really wanted to but just couldn’t justify the ticket prices.  

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i'd love to go again, but the comfort of watching at home wins out.

I really like the card. Feels like the UFC can chop and change a little on these UK card and still be left with a strong offering of domestic fighters. Three decent debutants here too.  I'll be watching this live from 5pm, can't wait.

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I'll be in Eastbourne that weekend but unfortunately don't have the time to make the trip up to London for it. If I did I probably would have checked out tickets and then had a different reason for not going.

Hoping to get lucky and catch it in a pub rather than have to pay the box office fee. I won't hold my breath on finding anywhere showing it though. 

There's quite a lot of fun to be had on that main card alright. 

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1 hour ago, WeeAl said:

There's quite a lot of fun to be had on that main card alright. 

I like the prelims as well on this one. Even the early Fight Pass ones hold some interest for me with Lerone Murphy’s return, Christian Leroy Duncan’s debut, Jake Hadley, Joanne Wood and Herbert vs Klein which should be a really fun striking battle. Then Shore and Mokaev further up along with a couple more debuts. I actually think the Fight Pass prelims might be better than the televised ones myself.

And obviously the main card is good stuff. Only fight not doing it for me out of the 5 is Casey O’Neill vs Jennifer Maia. The other 4 are quality. The focus has been, and will be, almost entirely on Edwards vs Usman 3 and understandably so. But it’s sinking in now that we’re just days away from Gaethje vs Fiziev as well and I can’t wait for that one.

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