Patrick Côté: Leon Edwards will have to be more enterprising and aggressive to hope to defeat Kamaru Usman at


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Kamaru Usman will attempt to defend her welterweight title for the sixth consecutive time on Saturday at UFC 278 against Leon Edwards.

The two fighters reunite seven years after their first date, which Usman won by unanimous decision. At the time, Usman was primarily a wrestler, but today he’s become so complete; he is a good boxer, super tough to deal with, who has the power in his hands. We don’t see him fighting as much as before. With his new coaching staff for a few years, he has probably discovered a new way to train in standing combat. He gained confidence with his hands. When you are as tough a wrestler as Usman, you tend to rely on your wrestling instinct, but now he has added a new string to his he bow that has gotten really strong. He has improved a lot, and quickly. He has confidence and succeeds with his fists; just think of his K.-O. against Jorge Masvidal who is one of the most violent in recent years. He proved his power to him.

Edwards is more of a coach struggling not to get hurt, it seems. He doesn’t really like going through traffic or getting into a blow-by-blow war. This is why it took him so long to get a world title fight. Although everyone says that if he deserves it, the problem is that he is not spectacular, and today you have to know how to sell in the UFC. While it’s technically a rematch between the two headliners this weekend, it’s still a tough sell as a main event on a map.

It will be a tall order for Edwards, but the important thing is that he believes it. Looking at the betting odds and general opinion, we expect Usman to come out victorious hands down.

Edwards is more technical, attentive to detail, but sometimes technique isn’t everything in a fight. You have to know how to shift into second gear and not fight just not to lose. I know it might sound strange to say this when it comes to a guy who hasn’t lost in seven years, but still performs often safe. In his latest outing against Nate Diaz, in June 2021, he almost played a bad joke on him. Edwards had the lead on the scorecards, but as he may have played too cautiously, Diaz nearly put him in the fifth round. At this level, against a guy like Nate Diaz, you have to have the killer instinct, the instinct to finish the fight. It seems to be that aspect that Edwards lacks compared to the champions.

Edwards also said he thought it was the perfect time for him to face Usman as his body was deteriorating after being very active and being involved in tough battles. Usman is returning from wrist surgery, I don’t know if that’s exactly what he is referring to. But either way, Usman is basically an elite, All-American wrestler, and it’s a discipline that does a lot of damage and leaves scars. With mixed martial arts, he adds a layer. At the same time, even though his body is mortgaged, I don’t think he’s more than another, it’s the same for anyone on this level, especially as he gets older.

I think Edwards will have to exert a lot more pressure to hope to win, he will have to get into the fight and stay on his feet. He doesn’t have to go out of his usual style, but be more aggressive and insistent to confuse the opponent. Usually, Usman can expect a somewhat relaxed start to the fight, but Edwards’ strategy should be to start off aggressively, while remaining smart in his attacks. He has to physically impose himself and with his strokes of him to question Usman’s head, who will have no choice but to return to his fight if he is unable to keep up at the fight level on his feet. .

Additionally, Usman said he wanted to try his luck with the light heavyweight to become a double champion. That would mean he would skip a weight class as his friend Israel Adesanya is a middleweight champion. I find it great. He’s trying to get respect in that, but I don’t quite understand what a desire he has. I think it is dangerous. Adesanya himself tried to move up to 205 pounds and was unsuccessful. He is also dangerous if he is already thinking about that kind of thing rather than focusing on Edwards. I don’t think he should spend his energy on him thinking about anything other than what will happen in the short term. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make in mixed martial arts. Even if you are a champion and you are at the top, you cannot help but think that it is a foregone conclusion and that it will be a walk.

An intriguing return

In addition to the final, two other duels caught my attention.

First the one between Paulo Costa and Luke Rockhold, who hasn’t argued for three years. This is a very intriguing fight between two heavy hitters. Both are on two straight losses and Rockhold has two knockouts. particularly violent. It is therefore a big order to cash in on Costa’s strikes. I think one of Rockhold’s weaknesses is that he’s not the humblest guy in the world. He also says he expects to get a world title fight with a win, which I doubt.

You have to have humility in victory as well as in defeat, but in his case, after a setback, he seems to have difficulty sitting down and analyzing what went wrong. He has never fully recovered from the world championship defeat to Michael Bisping in 2016, aside from a win over David Branch. Against the big hitters, I don’t think he has much faith in his chin, and facing Costa won’t make his life easier. I’m curious to see what will happen.

One of the other encounters that interests me is the one between wrestling specialist Merab Dvalishvili and one of the crowd favorites in Jose Aldo, the “King of Rio”. He’s a collide of styles. Aldo is only 35 years old, but we have almost forgotten him for so long that he worked in the UFC, where he was champion for many years. He still has good fights in reserve. He has a three-game winning streak against Marlon Vera, Pedro Munhoz and Rob Font, so it looks like he’s regained some youthful momentum towards the end of his career. Can’t wait to see them in action.

* Audrey Roy interview


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