After the way things ended between these two the last time they shared the Octagon together, you knew an immediate rematch was in order.
Edwards pulled off the stunning last-minute finish at UFC 278, landing a left kick that sent Usman down, turning what was expected to be a unanimous decision victory for the champion into one of the most “Can you believe it!” moments in recent MMA memory.
RELATED: Edwards vs Usman on UFC 286 countdown
Edwards did well in the first frame, surprising Usman with an early takedown to get out of the gates quickly, but ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ stabilized and controlled nearly every second of the next 19 minutes of the fight. Edwards looked beaten, resigned, as Din Thomas, Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier suggested, to losing a unanimous decision, only for Jon Anik to suggest “but that’s not the fabric he’s cut from” a fraction of second before Edwards went high and knocked Usman out.
What makes this fight so fascinating is that the way things ended in Salt Lake City left a bunch of lingering questions about these fighters and this contest, and they will likely be answered on Saturday night in London.
We have no idea how Usman will react after being knocked out and knocked off the welterweight throne, let alone having his long unbeaten streak cut short. And as remarkable as the finish is, will Edwards build on that historic moment or return to the pace and pattern that put him on the scorecards before that final minute?
And what impact will the fighting in London have on each man? Will the partisan crowd take Edwards and push him to be the best version of himself we’ve seen to date? Will Usman succeed in being the ‘road team’ looking to send home fans away with a defeat?
This is a compelling contest even without the UFC welterweight title on the line, and it should be tense and gripping from the start.
Other UFC 286 Main Card Fights
Co-Main Event: Justin Gaethje vs. Rafael Fiziev