The UFC is returning to London this weekend with an action-packed event with UFC 286, which is headlined by Leon Edwards defending his UFC welterweight title against Kamaru Usman in a trilogy fight. Edwards stunned the world last August at UFC 279 with a final-minute knockout victory over Usman to capture the championship and will be attempting to make his first defense on home soil.
Weigh-in results are in the books and there was only one miss: Malcolm Gordon weighed in at 129.5 pounds, which is 3.5 pounds over the flyweight limit. Presumably, his matchup with Jake Hadley will proceed at a catchweight and he’ll be fined a percentage of his fight money. In a more shocking development, Colby Covington was in attendance and made weight as the backup fighter for the main event tomorrow, although both Edwards and Usman made weight.
Be sure to check out my UFC 286 Quick Preview for more information related to this card. With that out of the way, let’s dive right in with the OddSmokerMMA Picks & Predictions for UFC 286:
Juliana Miller – Miller is 3-1 with a 100% stoppage rate and is the female winner of the most recently completed season of The Ultimate Fighter. She’ll be facing 6-4-1 Veronica Hardy this weekend in London. Hardy, who is married to former UFC fighter Dan Hardy, is 1-4 in the UFC and returning from a three-year layoff. Miller will have 3″ height and 2″ reach advantages in this matchup and appears better everywhere from what she has shown so far in her career. Hardy has a negative strike differential with mediocre grappling numbers, and unless she has heavily improved her game during her time away, will likely struggle against the relentless attack of Miller. I think this fight will end inside the distance, and I think Miller gets the job done via submission or KO/TKO.
Ludovit Klein – Klein is 19-4 with 16 stoppages (eight each method) and has been stopped in three of his four losses. Klein has won two in a row and is 3-2 overall in the UFC. His last four fights have ended in round three or by decision. He’ll be facing 12-4 Jai Herbert, who has ten wins via stoppage and has been stopped in all four of his losses. Herbert will have sizeable 6″ height and 5″ reach advantages, but he only is 2-3 in the UFC so far. Both fighters have slightly negative striking differentials, but Klein has a solid advantage in the grappling, while Herbert has landed zero takedowns in the UFC through five fights. I expect the first round to be competitive, but Klein should be able to take over in this one by mixing his takedown and striking attacks. I think there’s a decent chance that Klein could put away Herbert late, but if not, he should win the decision.
Joanne Wood – Wood is 15-8 with six stoppages and she will be facing 8-3 Luana Carolina on the early prelims this weekend. Wood has lost three consecutive fights and four of her past five overall, but they have all been to very high-level competition. Carolina is 3-2 in the UFC, but has been stopped in both of her losses, including a nasty spinning elbow knockout in her most recent fight. Carolina will be dangerous in the first round, where Wood has been submitted in five of her losses. However, Wood is 11-3 after the first five minutes and will be the more well-rounded fighter in this matchup. I expect Wood to be able to comfortably secure at least two out of three rounds and win this one via decision.
Jake Hadley – Hadley is 9-1 with seven stoppages and his only loss came in his UFC debut. He bounced back in his second fight and will now be facing 14-6 Malcolm Gordon in London. Gordon has 11 stoppage victories but has been stopped himself in all six of his losses. Hadley is six years younger and has over double the striking volume of Gordon. He’ll also be facing Gordon’s 9% takedown defense if he decides to go the ground, where he has five subs in his career. Hadley hasn’t displayed the best takedown defense himself, but if he can dictate where this fight takes place, he should comfortably be able to pick up the stoppage win over Gordon sometime in the early rounds. Four of Gordon’s losses have come via KO/TKO, so don’t be surprised if Hadley hands him a fifth.
Christian Leroy Duncan – Duncan is 7-0 with six wins via stoppage and five of them coming via KO/TKO and will be making his UFC debut against Dusko Todorovic after an impressive run with Cage Warriors. Todorovic is 12-3 with 11 wins coming via stoppage and has been knocked out in two of his three losses (both in the first round). Both fighters possess a lot of power in their striking, but Todorovic eats a high volume of strikes while having very limited ability to escape trouble with only 12% takedown accuracy in the UFC. Duncan will be fighting in front of a local crowd and should be looking to make a statement in this matchup. He has found five of his seven stoppages in the first two rounds, and I expect Duncan to do the same here with another KO/TKO victory.
Lerone Murphy – Murphy is 11-0-1 with seven wins via KO/TKO and has won three straight fights since recording a draw in his UFC debut. He’ll be facing 10-0 Gabriel Santos, who will be making his debut with the promotion after accepting this fight on extremely short notice. Murphy has a lot of power in his striking and has found six of his seven stoppages in the first round. He’ll be fighting in front of his home crowd for the first time in the UFC. Santos is a solid fighter who has faced decent competition on his route to the UFC, but this is an extremely tough spot to make a debut on roughly one-week notice. Murphy has stopped two of his three UFC wins in the first round, and I definitely expect him to find another one relatively early into this fight as well.
Muhammad Mokaev – Mokaev is 9-0 with six stoppages and has gone 3-0 thus far in the UFC. He is one of the more highly touted prospects in the UFC flyweight division, and at only 22 years old, has a chance to potentially break Jon Jones record as the youngest champion in the promotion’s history. He’ll be facing 14-2 Jafel Filho this weekend in London. Filho has 13 of his wins via stoppage and has been submitted in one of his two losses. Mokaev is seven years younger than Filho and is the much more well-rounded fighter. He’ll have a two-inch reach advantage and is absolute takedown machine, averaging 8.88 takedowns per 15 minutes thus far in the UFC. As long as he can avoid the early threat from Filho here, Mokaev should be able to quickly grind away for a relatively easy victory here. I think there’s a decent chance Mokaev can get Filho out of this one sometime in the second or third rounds via sub.
Sam Patterson – Patterson is 10-1-1 with nine wins via stoppage and will be making his UFC debut after earning a contract with a second-round submission victory on DWCS. He will be facing fellow UFC newcomer Yanal Ashmoz, who is 6-0 with five stoppages of his own. Patterson is a very well-rounded fighter with solid striking power and also very dangerous with his submissions, particularly his chokeholds. Ashmoz is undefeated but has only faced opponents with a total of 28 fights combined on their records. He also isn’t particularly active, having only three fights since 2017 and was brought in as a late replacement for another fighter. History usually doesn’t reflect kindly on fighters in similar positions, and I think it’ll be more of the same here with Patterson likely getting the victory in this one via finish.
Chris Duncan – Duncan is 9-1 with eight stoppages and will be making his UFC debut after being signed to a contract following a wild first round knockout during last season. He’ll be facing 11-3 Omar Morales this weekend at UFC 286. Morales has seven stoppages in his career, but has struggled at the UFC level, losing back-to-back fights and three of his past four overall. He’s also been stopped in two of those three losses. Duncan is seven years younger in this matchup and he’s already displayed the power in his striking when he landed the nasty come-from-behind knockout to earn his contract. Morales has largely struggled overall at this level and will need to get this fight on the ground to have his best chance. This is one of the tougher fights on the card to pick, but I think Duncan can get this one done via KO/TKO or decision.
Jack Shore – Shore is 16-1 with 12 stoppage victories and will be making his debut at featherweight as he attempts to bounce back from the first loss of his career. Shore, who is currently still ranked at #15 in the bantamweight rankings, will be facing 17-8 Makwan Amirkhani in London this weekend. Amirkhani has 13 of his wins via stoppage, but he’s also been stopped in half of his career losses with three of them coming via KO/TKO. Shore is six years younger in this matchup and has triple the striking volume of Amirkhani while also being the better grappler. Amirkhani has lost five of his last seven fights with the last two coming via KO/TKO. That doesn’t bode well against a fighter who is moving up in weight to a class he feels more naturally fits him and who will be hungry to avenge their first loss. I expect Shore to have his way in the striking exchanges and think he’ll get this one done inside the distance.
Roman Dolidze – Dolidze is 12-1 with ten wins via stoppage and will be getting his biggest opportunity to date when he faces 18-6-1 Marvin Vettori this weekend at UFC 286. Dolidze has won four straight fights with the last three via stoppage, but he’ll have his hands full with Vettori, who has been a fixture in the division top five in recent years and has never been stopped. Vettori has lost two of his last three fights, but they were both to top level opponents. Dolidze will have slight two-inch advantages in both height and reach and will likely be the more dangerous striker on the feet. However, he only has 33% takedown defense in the UFC, so it will be important for him to control the pace and where this fight takes place against Vettori. While a lot of people talk about the fact that Vettori has never been stopped, most don’t mention that he is only 7-6 in fights that go the distance and has zero stops after the first five minutes. I think Dolidze has a decent chance of getting this one done in a very close, potentially split decision.
Casey O’Neill – O’Neill is 9-0 in her career via with five of those wins coming via stoppage and she will be making her return to the octagon after a yearlong injury layoff. She’ll be facing longtime UFC women’s flyweight fighter Jennifer Maia. Maia is 20-9 with nine stoppages and has faced some of the best competition in the division, but she has gone 5-5 overall in the promotion and has consistently struggled against her tougher competition. O’Neill finished each of her first three UFC wins before winning her last fight via split decision and she landed a whopping 229 strikes in that 15-minute fight. O’Neill will have a 2″ height advantage, as well as a sizeable 5″ reach advantage over Maia. She also has double the striking output and is a solid grappler as well. Maia has never been stopped in the UFC, but I think there’s a solid chance O’Neill can get this one done with a convincing decision.
Gunnar Nelson – Nelson is 18-5-1 with 16 wins via stoppage and 12 of them coming via submission. He’ll be facing 18-9 Bryan Barberena, who is taking this fight on fairly short notice. Barberena has 13 stoppage wins of his own and although he is coming off a loss to RDA, he had won his previous three fights. Nelson, meanwhile, is coming off a win in his most recent fight but had struggled and dropped three of his prior four against very high-level competition. Barberena has a higher striking volume, but Nelson is the slightly more well-rounded fighter in my opinion, and he will likely try to get this fight on the ground and look for submissions. I’m not particularly a fan of the wide betting line here, but I do think Nelson should be able to squeeze this one out via decision or submission.
Rafael Fiziev – Fiziev is 12-1 with a 75% stoppage rate and will enter this fight on a six-fight winning streak when he faces Justin Gaethje in the co-main event of the card. Gaethje is 23-4 with 20 of those wins coming via stoppage. He’s dropped two of his last three fights, but both of those were UFC Lightweight title shots. Both of these fighters are extremely dangerous strikers who are not opposed to a firefight on the feet. While neither of them particularly utilizes takedowns that often, Fiziev has at least shown the ability to land them when needed, while Gaethje has zero takedowns in the UFC and is strictly a power striker. I think Fiziev will be able to better mix his weapons in the striking and to get the fight to the ground if he finds himself in trouble. Gaethje has been stopped in all four of his losses and while he has faced some of the best fighters in the division, he is only 6-4 during his time with the UFC. Fiziev should be able to comfortably secure two rounds on the scorecards for a decision and I think there’s even a decent chance he can get this one done with a KO/TKO stoppage down the stretch.
Kamaru Usman – Usman is 20-2 with ten stoppages and will be trying to reclaim the UFC Welterweight championship from Leon Edwards in the third fight of a trilogy between the two. Edwards stunning last-minute win last August halted Usman’s 19-fight winning streak and the reign of terror the Nigerian Nightmare had held over the division. Edwards is 20-3 with ten stoppages and has won his last ten fights excluding his No Contest vs Belal Muhammad. He’ll be trying to defend the championship on his home soil and will 100% have the crowd in London behind him. However, before his perfectly executed kick at UFC 279, Edwards had been beaten soundly in six out of seven rounds against Usman inside the octagon across their two fights. In fact, Usman landed 50 more strikes and 11 more takedowns than Edwards through the first two fights. While I expect Edwards to look very well and probably better than he did in both of the first two fights overall, I still think Usman will be able to get this one done on the scorecards as the clearly more well-rounded fighter of the two. I wouldn’t be shocked, however, if Edwards can keep this fight close enough for a split decision loss.
My favorite picks of this card are Jack Shore, Muhammad Mokaev, Rafael Fiziev, and Casey O’Neill and my favorite betting underdog for this week is Roman Dolidze. Lerone Murphy and Christian Leroy Duncan are two other fighters who I really like for this one.
Be sure to check on our social media accounts leading up and during the event for all of our recommended betting targets for UFC 286 and how to hopefully get a better return on some of the heavy favorites on this week’s card.
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