Last Updated Mar 18, 2023, 5:59 PM

UFC 286: Edwards vs. Usman 3 Picks, Predictions, Odds

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The UFC Welterweight Championship is on the line once again as Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman face each other for the 3rd time under the UFC banner this Saturday at O2 Arena in London! The co-main event will see two striking machines Justin Gaethje and Rafel Fiziev in what is expected to be an absolute banger of a fight in the lightweight division!

The entire card is expected to have 15 fights on tap with action expected to begin with the preliminary matches at 1:00 p.m. ET before the main card starting at 5:00 p.m. ET.

Listed below are my UFC 286 Picks, Predictions and Best Bets.

Let's get it on!

UFC 286: Edwards vs. Usman 3 Best Bets

  • Edwards-Usman: Fight to Go the Distance (-167)
  • Rafael Fiziev by KO/TKO/DQ (+143)
  • Bryan Barbarena to Win (+300)
  • Vettori-Dolidze: Fight to Go the Distance (-179)
  • Chris Duncan to Win (+100) 

Odds per FanDuel - Subject to Change

UFC 286: Edwards vs. Usman 3 Picks & Predictions

The UFC 286 main card is expected to start at 5:00 p.m. ET.

UFC 286: Edwards vs. Usman Picks

Champion Leon Edwards is listed as an underdog for Saturday's fight. (Getty)
  • Welterweight Championship
  • Leon Edwards +198 Kamaru Usman -250

Pound-for-pound. Headshot, dead! That was the story of the fight the last time these two fighters faced each other. Usman proved why he was ranked number one on the pound-for-pound list at the time, dominating the majority of the fight with his wrestling, but Edwards finished it with an incredible head-kick KO in the last minute of the 5th round. This was definitely one of the most exciting finishes to a title fight we have ever seen, but Usman is right back at it and attempting to retake the title.

Kamaru Usman was the UFC Welterweight champ from March 2019 until August last year, making 5 title defenses and establishing himself as the number 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC. Usman is known as a wrestling machine, with superhuman cardio and suffocating pressure. He averages 3.01 takedowns per 15, but his striking has also gotten a lot better over the years, and he has earned a total of 9 KO/TKO wins in his career. 

Edwards has been in the UFC since 2014 and finally earned himself a title shot in August. Despite starting off well, he got out-grappled and out-pressured for 4 rounds before turning in that nasty head kick to win the championship. The fight was at high elevation, and despite not having the wrestling credentials of Usman, Edwards was able to land a takedown, and hold his own on the ground. This time, the fight will be in his home territory and with the home crowd behind him, we should see a much closer fight. 

The bookmakers still favor Usman to regain the crown, but at -250 odds, and with the flashes we saw out of Edwards last time out, I’m not so sure it should be so one-sided. I expect to see a much closer bout, and it will likely go to a decision. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Edwards isn’t holding any value at +225 at Marathonbet, but I’m picking a safer option here. 

Best Bet: Fight to Go the Distance (-167)

UFC 286 Gaethje vs Fiziev Picks

Justin Gaethje has lost two of his last three UFC fights. (Getty)

Lightweight Bout
Justin Gaethje +186 Rafael Fiziev -235

The co-main event will feature Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev trying to take each other’s heads off in the Lightweight division. Perfect! This is exactly what we need before, what is likely going to be, a grappling match in the main event. 

We all know what Justin Gaethje does and what he can do. 23 wins, 4 losses, 19 KO/TKO career victories, what else do I need to tell ya’? The guy lands 7.46 strikes per minute but also absorbs 7.85. He has never attempted a takedown in his entire UFC career and hates wrestling because it gasses him out. His words, not mine. Both of his title fights against Nurmagomedov and Oliveira were submission losses. He is 34 years old now and has taken a lot of damage throughout his career due to his poor striking defense. 

For Rafael ‘Ataman’ Fiziev, this will be his 8th appearance under the UFC banner, and after facing that initial loss in his debut, he is on a 6-fight winning streak. Bobby Green, Brad Riddell, and RDA have been his latest 3 opponents and he beat the latter two by KO. At 30 years old, Fiziev is just entering his prime and with 8 of his 12 career wins coming via KO/TKO, it’s safe to say he is a lethal striker in his own right. He has a lot of power in his shots and although volume isn’t his preferred way to win, he likes investing in body shots, which is something that can be a very useful weapon against Gaethje. 

We have seen some footage of Gathje practicing wrestling leading up to this fight, but I don’t see how this would benefit him. Yes, he was a D1 wrestler in college, but he has made it clear so far that he doesn’t like doing it in MMA, and I fear he will only gas himself out given Fiziev’s takedown defense. Regardless, I expect Fiziev to earn another TKO victory here against an opponent who doesn’t have the same chin he used to. 

Best Bet: Fiziev by KO/TKO/DQ (+143)

UFC 286 Nelson vs. Barbarena Picks

Bryan Barberena will enter Saturday's fight as a healthy underdog. (Getty)

Welterweight Bout
Gunnar Nelson -400 Bryan Barberena +300

Gunnar Nelson returned to the UFC after a 2-and-a-half-year hiatus to defeat Takashi Sato via unanimous decision. He was 1-3 before taking that break and coming off a loss to Gilbert Burns and is now looking to complete the comeback at age 34. He looked great last time out, but it was against a fighter that was already struggling to get his hand raised in the UFC beforehand and is now 1-4 over his last 5 fights. That said, Nelson’s grappling credentials must not be overlooked, as a fighter with a 3rd-degree black belt in BJJ under Renzo Gracie and 12 career submission wins. 

Bryan Barbarena has been fighting under the UFC banner since 2014 and currently holds an MMA record of 18-9. Not impressive to say the least, but he was on a 3-fight losing streak before facing RDA back in December. And here is where his biggest problem is. Whenever fighters are able to get Barbarena to the mat, it’s game over. We know that Nelson is a great grappler but he lands 1.86 takedowns per 15. 

Barbarena is a great volume striker who also has some solid power behind his shots, earning 11 career KO/TKO wins. He lands almost 6 strikes per minute and is by far the better striker in this one. The only thing we need to happen is for Barbarena to stuff a few early takedowns and we have a great underdog pick at +310 odds. I cannot stress enough the importance of using small stakes in this one. The return is generous, but we are going with Barbarena to get it done as a huge underdog. 

Best Bet: Bryan Barbarena to Win (+300)

UFC 286 Vettori vs. Dolidze Picks

Marvin Vettori has seen 11 of his 13 UFC fights go the distance. (Getty)

Middleweight Bout
Marvin Vettori -295 Roman Dolidze +225

The 4th-ranked fighter in the Middleweight division Marvin ‘The Italian Dream’ Vettori is looking to get back into the title conversation and is in need of a bounce-back win. He is coming off a unanimous decision loss against Bobby Knuckles in September and is now facing a rising star of the division in Roman Dolidze. 

Vettori had an unsuccessful title attempt 2 years ago against Israel Adesanya but bounced back in October of 2021 with a win against Paulo Costa. He didn’t look very good in his latest bout against Whittaker, but we all know what he is capable of, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him bounce back here. Vettori has great cardio, striking volume and wrestling. Though his takedown stats have taken a hit in his recent fights, he was fighting the best fighters in the division and we should see this change tonight.

For Dolidze, it’s been an incredible 2022,  winning all 3 of his fights via KO/TKO and getting performance of the night bonuses in each. He has been very impressive so far and is coming off an incredible TKO victory over Jack Hermansson. He has proven that he is a very dangerous fighter off his back and he has a lot of power behind his strikes. But his takedown defense has been an issue so far, as well as his cardio. As dangerous as he is in the early minutes of fights, his intensity tends to drop off when he can’t get the job done, and if this fight goes to a decision, Vettori has the upper hand. 

But I don’t like the odds next to Vettori’s name here and I think they should be a lot closer. That said, I still expect to see Vettori’s cardio and durability give him the edge and get his hand raised at the end. He isn’t a finisher and I expect this to be a decision win. 

Best Bet: Fight to Go the Distance (-179)

UFC 286 vs Duncan vs Morales Picks 

Lightweight Bout
Christian Duncan -108 Omar Morales -118

For the final best bet of the event, we are turning to the prelims in the Chris Duncan vs Omar Morales fight. The bookies expect a close fight between these two, but I’m giving the edge to the younger and more aggressive Duncan. 

Omar Morales started his MMA journey later than most, but at 37 years of age, he has made a nice career for himself. However, he has lost 3 of his last 4 fights and is coming off a TKO loss against the prospect Uros Medic. That was almost a year ago and whilst he has had time to recover, I don’t think the long layoff will benefit him that much. Morales struggles when facing younger and more aggressive fighters, and I don’t think he has the volume or KO power to get the job done in this one. 

At 29 years of age, Duncan is just making his first steps inside the UFC and this will actually be his UFC debut, not counting his 2 fights in DWCS. He got his chance in the UFC after beating Charlie Campbell by KO back in August, and you can bet this young dog will be hungry to take the win tonight again. Aggressive is the best way to describe Duncan, landing 7.10 strikes per minute along with 4.18 takedowns. His style of fighting might end up hurting him in the long run if he doesn’t improve his striking defence, absorbing 7.94 per minute, but in this fight, I expect his pressure, cardio and explosiveness to help him get the job done. 

Best Bet: Chris Duncan to Win (+100) 

UFC 286 Betting Odds

UFC 286 Main Card Odds
Leon Edwards +198 Kamaru Usman -250
Justin Gaethje +186 Rafael Fiziev -235
Gunnar Nelson -400 Bryan Barberena +300
Jennifer Maia +142 Casey O'Neill -176
Marvin Vettori -295 Roman Dolidze +225

UFC 286 Preliminary Card Odds
Jack Shore -590 Makwan Amirkhani +390
Christian Duncan -108 Omar Morales -118
Sam Patterson -320 Yanal Ashmoz +235
Muhammad Mokaev -900 Jafel Filho +520

UFC 286 Early Preliminary Card Odds
Lerone Murphy -176 Gabriel Santos +142
Christian Duncan -215 Dusko Todorovic +164
Jake Hadley -350 Malcolm Gordon +255
Joanne Wood -188 Luana Carolina +146
Jai Herbert +136 Ludovit Klein -174
Juliana Miller -460 Veronica Macedo +320

Odds per FanDuel - Subject to Change

UFC 286 Betting Resources

UFC 286: Edwards vs. Usman 3 Odds
Date: Saturday, March 18, 2023
Network-Time: ESPN+, ESPN, PPV, 1:00 p.m. ET
Venue: O2 Arena
Location: London, England

UFC 286 Betting Trends

As of Friday morning, BetMGM is providing bettors with the opening and current odds, plus the betting and handle percentages for the UFC 286 main card bouts.


UFC 286 Best Bets Video:

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