UFC Tips: The 3 best bets for UFC 286 in London – including Edwards v Usman

Seán Taylor looks ahead to a huge night of fighting in London.


UFC Tips

Leon Edwards v Kamaru Usman 3: Leon Edwards to win
Marvin Vettori v Roman Dolidze: Roman Dolidze to win
Justin Gaethje v Rafael Fiziev: Will the fight go the distance? Yes

UFC 286 – 02 Arena, London
TV: BT Sport 1, BT Sport Box Office 

Leon Edwards v Kamaru Usman 3: Leon Edwards to win 

Saturday, 23:15

On the face of it, these prices may look a little strange given Edwards head kick KO of Usman back in August. In reality, Usman was three rounds to one when he was KO’d in the fifth round. Edwards started the fight brilliantly, making use of his superior striking and even landing a takedown on Usman. He took Usman’s back and looked in control. 

What transpired afterwards from Edwards was strange. He looked flat from the second round onwards and totally gassed after the third round. Edwards is a relatively similar price to that first second fight which makes sense given how the fight played out. That being said, I think there’s enough juice in the price that if Edwards can show more of that form from the first round, then he’s a very live underdog here.

Even during his flat rounds, he did have enough success with his combination striking to make me think that with the fight being in London, and crucially not at altitude, he’s less likely to have any cardio issues so can maintain his output for a longer period.

The question for Usman and Trevor Wittman is, what do you change about your gameplan from the second fight? Arguably nothing. Don’t get hit with a head kick. Even that raises its own interesting angle. Now that Edwards knows he can find the kill switch on Usman, this fight takes on a whole new complexion. For the Nigerian Nightmare, that’s his first time being knocked out and how does that affect him mentally? It will be a totally different experience and feeling in the cage for him now he’s been knocked out. 

Fighters often talk about feeling less pressure and expectation after a loss or knockout. I don’t buy that; I think that’s a copy and paste line that gets trotted out. It’s in the same realm as ‘best camp ever’ amongst others.

Ultimately, I think there are enough intangibles to make me want to swerve Usman’s current price of 4/11 as well his method of victory props and back Rocky to defend his belt on home soil.

Marvin Vettori v Roman Dolidze: Roman Dolidze to win 

Saturday, 21:15

This is an intriguing all European match-up between two fighters who are probably at different points in their careers. We know what we’re going to get from Vettori at this point. Former UFC fighter turned analyst Dan Hardy excellently describes him as the meathead brown belt that nobody wants to grapple with. He’s not the most skilful striker or BJJ practitioner ever, but he does everything with a pig-headed ignorance that makes him awkward and annoying to fight. 

The gameplan to beat him has been laid out by Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker and is out there to see. Implementing has generally been more difficult for fighters below their level.

The stats would say these two are quite similar. Dolidze lands slightly more takedowns and attempts double treble the number of submissions. Vettori lands more but also gets hit more. I think Vettori is a pretty one-dimensional fighter. I come back to the pig-headed ignorance; he won’t change up his gameplan if things are not going his way. 

Vettori may be the more active of the two, but Dolidze is the cleaner striker and will love working knees and elbows from the clinch (do yourself a favour and check out his clinch knee knockout of Kyle Daukaus). Even if Vettori does land takedowns, Dolidze landed some impressive elbows from bottom position against Phil Hawes and worked it into a couple of submission attempts.

The price at the time of writing look massive to me and I’d be very sweet on this one.

Justin Gaethje v Rafael Fiziev: Will the fight go the distance? Yes 

Saturday, 22:45

I’ve had my fingers burned with Justin Gaethje props before. He’s a talented striker who will take two shots just to land one big one, tough as nails and a granite chin. Like many fighters, he may be too tough for his own good and it will have to catch up with him at some point in his career. When it catches up with him will only be know with the benefit of hindsight.

Given that, we can only presume his chin is in perfect working order for now. I love this fight. It’s going to be a stand-up fight between two high level strikers who will stand no further apart than kicking range. Despite his striking becoming more refined throughout his UFC career, Gaethje’s fights still tend to be chaotic, with the Chandler fight being particularly mental.

Fiziev is a coach at Tiger Muay Thai which should tell you plenty about his stand-up skills. Three of his six UFC bouts have gone the distance while Gaethje has only gone the distance once, that being the aforementioned Chandler fight. 

13/8 about this fight going the distance looks a little on the chunky side to me. Gaethje’s chin is solid barring a kill shot from Fiziev. ‘The Highlight Reel’ is arguably as dangerous as ever when he’s hurt. Over 1.5 rounds is priced at 4/9 and this makes the odds on going the distance look disproportionate. Given the chin and technical skills both and it being three rounds, I’m happy to have a play at a big price.

UFC 286 Betting Tips

Leon Edwards v Kamaru Usman 3: Leon Edwards to win
Marvin Vettori v Roman Dolidze: Roman Dolidze to win
Justin Gaethje v Rafael Fiziev: Will the fight go the distance? Yes 

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change




What do you think?