Stephen Thompson expects Kamaru Usman to avenge loss to Leon Edwards at UFC 286

Stephen Thompson can’t ignore the way the rematch between Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman was going before it ended.

Usman (20-2 MMA, 15-1 UFC) was up 3-1 on the judges’ scorecards in his welterweight title fight against Edwards (20-3 MMA, 12-2 UFC) last August at UFC 278 before Edwards rallied to knock him out with a head kick with less than a minute remaining in Round 5. Usman defended his welterweight title five times before losing it to Edwards.

After splitting their first two appearances, Edwards and Usman will face off for a third time in Saturday’s UFC 286 headliner at The O2 in London. Usman had plenty of success with his wrestling in both fights, and “Wonderboy” thinks it’s unlikely that Edwards will be able to pull off another win in the same fashion.

“Well, looking back at the last fight, Usman was winning the majority of the rounds,” Thompson told Submission Radio. “Leon got the first one. It was amazing, because you never saw Usman getting taken down before and controlled on the ground. Leon did that. After that round, it was all Usman up until the point of he got knocked out.

“Now, do I think Leon could set it up again? I do. But on paper I have Usman winning this fight, just because he was dominating the last one until he just wasn’t. And it’s harder to pull something off again for the second time. It’s gonna be very, very difficult.”


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Thompson admits that the knockout loss could affect Usman mentally since he’s never tasted defeat in that fashion before. But stylistically, he just sees Usman prevailing.

“But on top of that, you’ve got to think where’s Usman’s mindset going into this,” Thompson said. “Right? A guy who’s been so dominant in the UFC and getting finished like that, getting knocked out like that, does it mess that mindset up? And you kind of see, you know, his social media presence wasn’t the same as it was before. I don’t know if that has anything to do with it, but that just sticks out to me.”

He continued, I think you’ve got to ask yourself, is his mindset there and is his drive still the same after the way he lost? But from the last fight and the way he was winning it, on paper I’ve got Usman winning it.”

UFC 286 takes place Saturday at The O2 in London. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPNews and early prelims on ESPN+.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 286.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie