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UFC 286 Prelim Card
Women’s flyweights open the action as Veronica Macedo faces Juliana Miller. Miller is a heavy favorite to come out on top.
Jai Herbert takes on Ludovit Klein in a lightweight tilt. Klen is favored to get the victory over the England native.
Joanne Wood takes on Luana Carolina in a women's flyweight encounter. The more experienced Wood (formerly Calderwood) is a European fan favorite and should emerge victorious in this scrap.
Flyweights are also in action as Jake Hadley battles Malcolm Gordon. Expect Hadley to get a comfortable victory.
Christian Leroy Duncan faces Dusko Todorovic in a middleweight encounter that should be a brawl. Duncan is favored to come out on top and maintain his undefeated record.
Lerone Murphy clashes with Gabriel Santos in a featherweight bout. It's a close one between two undefeated fighters, but Murphy is just about favored to win.
Exciting flyweight Muhammad Mokaev takes on Jafel Filho. Mokaev is undefeated in his 10 bouts and is the #12 ranked and expected to keep his unblemished record against the Brazilian.
Lightweights collide as Sam Patterson faces the unbeaten Yanal Ashmov. The UK fighter is favored to hand Ashmov his first career defeat.
Chris Duncan faces Omar Morales in a lightweight tilt. It should be a competitive fight, but oddsmakers are giving Morales the slightest of edges.
The featured prelim is a featherweight bout between Jack Shore, ranked #14, and Makwan Amirkhani. Shore is heavily favored but we all know to never count Mr. Finland out of a fight.
UFC 286 Main Card
Vettori (18-6-1) v Dolidze (12-1)
A big middleweight encounter opens the card as Marvin Vettori, #4 contender, battles Roman Dolidze, #9 contender. The powerful Italian is coming off a unanimous decision defeat to Robert Whittaker in September. Overall, the former title challenger has lost two of his last three and will be looking to embark on a winning streak again. Dolidze, meanwhile, is 6-1 in the UFC and currently on a four-fight winning streak.
His most impressive win was against Jack Hermansson who he faced on short notice in December and ended up getting a TKO. This should be a relatively competitive affair, however, oddsmakers are leaving heavily on Vettori returning to the win column.
Maia (20-9-1) v O'Neill (9-0)
Top 15 ranked contenders Jennifer Maia and Casey O’Neill collide in a women’s flyweight bout. Maia recently snapped a two-fight losing skid with a unanimous decision win over Maryna Moroz in November.
O’Neill, on the other hand, remains undefeated in her professional career and is 4-0 in the UFC. The Australian’s most recent win was a split verdict over Roxanne Modafferi. The odds are close, but O’Neill should come out on top over the Brazilian and maintain her undefeated record.
Nelson (18-5-1) v Barberena (18-9)
Welterweight veterans collide as Gunnar Nelson clashes with Bryan Barberena. Nelson is always a fan favorite in the UK and returned to the win column with a unanimous decision victory over Takashi Sato in March last year. It was his first win in over three years and the Icelandic grappler be looking to make it two in a row.
Barberena recently saw his three-fight winning streak snapped following a submission defeat to former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos in December. Prior to that, Barberena earned impressive wins over Matt Brown and former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler. I like Nelson to emerge victorious in this encounter and find his way to a submission before the fight is over.
Gaethje (23-4) v Fiziev (12-1)
Don’t miss a second of this bout! It’s an explosive co-main event between Justin Gaethje battles Rafael Fiziev. “The Highlight” is the #3 ranked fighter and hasn't competed since a first-round submission defeat to Charles Oliveira in their vacant lightweight title fight in May last year. Prior to that, "The Highlight" bounced back from his submission defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov with a Fight of the Year unanimous decision win over Michael Chandler.
Fiziev, ranked #6, is coming off his most impressive win by KO’ing former champ Rafael dos Anjos in July. That victory made it six wins in a row for the Azerbaijani striker who also holds notable victories over the likes of Renato Moicano and Brad Riddell.
Gaethje will have to land a big punch early to get the energetic Fiziev out of the cage, but odds are the American gets tired as Rafael turns up the pace for a unanimous decision.
Edwards (20-3, 1NC) v Usman (20-2)
The main event sees a trilogy fight between current welterweight champion Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman. The UK fighter earned revenge from their first fight by inflicting Usman’s first-ever defeat in the UFC with a dramatic come-from-behind fifth-round head kick knockout. Overall, “Rocky” is unbeaten in 11 fights since getting outpointed by Usman back in December 2015.
As for Usman, it's now his turn for revenge. The question is if he can do it. Unlike Edwards, he wasn't outpointed, but brutally knocked out which could affect him mentally in the standup.
He also turns 36 this year with plenty of mileage in the tank. That said, he was certainly winning the rematch up until the fifth round. Edwards claims he was not at his best, dealing with the altitude in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Oddsmakers agree as the safe money is on Usman becoming a two-time welterweight champion, but I see the value betting on the local fighter to shock the world again!
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About Ryan O’Leary
Ryan O’Leary is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist and commentator. The Swedish-based writer is the founder and editor at MMAViking.com, which is the premier source for Nordic mixed martial arts news since 2008.