There were many barbs between Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman, which is expected, as the two have a history. In their first outing, “The Nigerian Nightmare” won the bout via unanimous decision, while Edwards avenged the loss to win the welterweight division strap with a 5th-round left high kick KO in the style of legendary Mirko “Cro Cop”. Both fighters speak English well, so UFC 286 press conference was fireworks.
UFC 286 Media Day
The first bombs were thrown between the fighters at the UFC 286 media day, which took place on Wednesday, March 15th, 2023. The event takes place in London, England, so it kicked off a bit earlier. You can re-watch the whole media day on the MMA Crazy channel.
I am aware that the majority of fans prefer UFC 286 media day highlights, so please feel free to check them out on this playlist.
Fresh off his knockout victory, Leon Edwards believes that Kamaru Usman “has to find something to clutch onto” after a brutal fifth-round head kick KO loss. Usman fired back at the Brit, saying “I’ll retire when I’m good, well & ready”.
UFC 286 Co-Main Event
Leg kick specialist Justin Gaethje meets Muay Thai striker Rafael Fiziev in the co-main event of the evening.
Justin Gaethje didn’t talk much about his opponent – Gaethje believes he’s “the most exciting fighter who has ever stepped inside the Octagon”. Rafael Fiziev wants to take Gaethje’s “heart and soul” to earn a title shot.
The Rest of the UFC 286 Main Card
Gunnar Nelson returns after a long lay-off, but he didn’t pay much attention to his opponent Bryan Barbarena. Asked about the upcoming TUF session, “Gunni” says that Conor McGregor will “kick the sh*t out of Michael Chandler”. On the other hand, cautious Bryan Barbarena sees Gunnar Nelson’s bout as “a legend vs legend fight”.
Jennifer Maia believes that Valentina Shevchenko is still “the best fighter in the 125-pound division despite her title loss to Alexa Grasso”. Casey O’Neill believes Alexa Grasso’s upset title win over Valentina Shevchenko makes the division more entertaining.
For Marvin Vettori, the UFC 286 fight against Roman Dolidze is “a bit personal”. Dolidze is unhappy because Vettori shared details of past training sessions.
UFC 286 Preliminary Card
Jack Shore will be making his featherweight debut following his first UFC loss. The Welsh submission expert explained why he decided to move one division up.
Confident Chris “The Problem” Duncan is adamant that “Omar Morales is not of my caliber”, and will get finished.
Sam Patterson says that Leon Edwards showed that “you don’t have to leave the UK for the UFC success”.
Muhammad Mokaev detailed his hotel run-in with Jake Hadley. On the other hand, Hadley ripped “total idiot” Mokaev for an attempted hotel fight.
Joanne Wood doesn’t look too bothered by the move from the UFC 286 PPV main card to early prelims. Ex-basketball player Christian Leroy Duncan says LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant motivated his move to MMA.
Where to Watch UFC 286 Conference?
The UFC 286 press conference aired on Wednesday, February 15th, 2022, and it kicked in the early hours. You can check the highlights and the greatest moments from the UFC 286 presser on The UFC’s official YouTube channel. Check this link for the whole UFC 286 press conference. It will start around 1 PM ET (6 PM CET).
Leon Edwards Is Happy To Fight Ahead Of His Home Crowd
“Rocky” is finally fighting again at his home soil. This time he’s defending the title in his third outing against Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman. It seems to be a very special moment in Leon’s career.
NOTE: ALL THE TRANSCRIPTIONS ARE TAKEN FROM THE VIDEO.
“London, what’s up! Let’s go!,” Edwards yelled on the microphone, “I’m honored to be here. It’s been a long time coming. I worked hard to get here and Saturday night, I’m going to make them proud, for sure.”
Edwards was expected to fight the former division champion Tyron Woodley in his home country of England, but the CoVid-19 pandemic didn’t let his dream come through. But he’s happy to return home under different conditions.
“It’s coming home, it’s coming home,” Edwards said. “It’s going to mean the world. Like you said, it’s been a long time. This is my fourth time I think in front of The O2. I was meant to headline here against Tyron Woodley, and it got pushed back because of COVID.
“Now here we are, March 18 I come back as champion. And still. It’s going to be an amazing experience, it means the world to me. The road I traveled to get here, it was hard, it was tough. No one gave me a chance, everyone counted me out. I built character, and it’s going to be good.”
Edwards Blames Denver Altitude For His Previous Performance
Edwards was on the verge of a unanimous decision loss in his previous fight against Kamaru Usman. Yet, “Rocky” Cro Copped the Nigerian in the dying seconds of round five with a nasty high kick.
Edwards assured everybody that a Denver altitude played a factor in his previous match against Usman. He plans to prove on Saturday that he’s a way superior fighter than Kamaru Usman.
“Saturday night I’m going out there to show off, show out,” Edwards said. “I truly believe that this is my time and Saturday night you will feel that. My last fight, even though altitude played a big part of it, I know he’s improved, I’m not deluded. I truly believe I am better. I just can’t see him coming to the U.K. and taking that belt back home. So let’s go! Let’s go!”
Leon Edwards Imitates Usman's Coach
Also, please take a look at this funny impression of Leon Edwards, who imitated Kamaru's coach. I wonder if he rattled Usman with this move during the heated UFC 286 press conference exchange.
🗣️ "DON'T LET HIM BULLY YOU, SON!" 🗣️
— MMA Junkie (@MMAJunkie) March 16, 2023