The Ultimate Fighting Championships is hosting its fourth 2023 major fight card with UFC 286. UFC 286 will occur across the pond at the 02 Arena in London, England, on March 18. This is the promotion’s third trip to England over the past 12 months.
The trilogy of Kamura Usman-Leon Edwards for Edward’s welterweight championship belt headlines the stacked 15-bout card. A lightweight event between Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev is the co-main event.
The following are my best bets for UFC 286. The action gets underway at 1 p.m. (ET) with the early preliminaries on ESPN+. Fans can watch the preliminaries at 3 p.m. on ESPN+ and ESPN News while the main draw begins at 5 p.m. (PPV).
Leon Edwards vs. Kamura Usman, welterweight title fight
Reigning welterweight champion Leon Edwards puts up his belt against No. 1 contender Kamura Usman in this main event tilt. Edwards (20-3-1, 12-2-1 UFC) and Usman (20-2, 15-1) are meeting for the third time. Edwards knocked Usman out in the last minute of the fifth round of their Aug. 30 fight to win his first UFC title.
Edwards, who grew up in Birmingham, England, is the first Jamaica native to hold a UFC belt. The 31-year-old earned the promotion’s performance of the night bonus with his victory over Usman and is unbeaten in 11 straight fights. Just three fights during this stretch have ended before the final bell.
Usman is coming off his first loss as a UFC member, snapping a 20-fight win streak. The Nigerian Nightmare, the former No. 1 ranked pound-for-pound fighter, has earned four performance of the night bonuses and one fight of the night performance.
Expect Edwards and Usman to go right after each other in what should be a tense and captivating fight. While there are questions surrounding each competitor, I like Usman to win here. Usman dominated most of the fight before getting stunned by Edwards, and I expect that to happen here with a different outcome.
Prediction/Best Bet: Kamura Usman to win (-245)
Other Bets: Fight To Go Distance (-175)
Usman to win via decision (-115)
Casey O’Neil vs. Jennifer Maia, women’s flyweight
This women’s flyweight bout features two competitors looking to improve their ranking in the division. O’Neil (9-0, 4-0) enters the octagon ranked No. 12 on the promotion’s chart, while Maia (20-9-1, 5-5) is No. 12.
O’Neil was dominant in her first three UFC bouts, although she struggled slightly in her last outing, earning a split-decision victory over Roxanne Modaferri last February. The 2021 Rookie of the Year, who tore her ACL in April, earned her lone performance of the night two outings ago after knocking out Antonina Shevchenko in the second round.
Maia snapped a two-match losing streak with a unanimous decision win over Myrna Moroz on November 19. The 34-year-old has been inconsistent throughout her career with the UFC. She has earned performance of the night once.
Maia is a well-rounded and physical fighter who does much of her work from a close distance. But I like O’Neil here. The 25-year-old Scotland native is skilled on her feet and the ground.
Best Bet/ Prediction: Casey O’Neil to win (-170)
3-legged Moneyline Win Parlays (-156)
Jack Shore (-500) over Makwain Amirkhani
Juliana Miller (-450) over Veronica Macedo
Muhammed Mokalav (-850) over Jafel Filho
Other Best Bets:
Chris Duncan (-115) over Omar Morales
Ludovit Klein (-195) over Jai Herbert