The day has finally arrived.
After shocking the world last August, Leon Edwards is out to prove it wasn't a one-off when he shares the Octagon for a third time with former pound-for-pound number one, Kamaru Usman.
Unfortunately there isn't the same level of British interest throughout the card as we were treated to last year, with Arnold Allen, Paddy Pimblett, Nathaniel Wood and Tom Aspinall all out injured and Molly McCann on a break from the sport, but the likes of Jack Shore, Muhammad Mokaev, Joanne Wood and others are all in action in front of a home crowd at London's O2 Arena.
The early prelims begin at 5pm GMT, the prelims around 7pm and the main card around 9pm, with the main event around 10.30pm-11pm.
The event can be streamed via BT Sport Box Office, and you can follow here for all the odds, results and updates throughout the evening.
Latest UFC 286 odds.
|Welterweight||Leon Edwards (c) def. Kamaru Usman||Majority decision (48-46, 48-46, 47-47)|
|Lightweight||Justin Gaethje def. Rafael Fiziev||Majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)|
|Welterweight||Gunnar Nelson def. Bryan Barberena||Submission (Armbar; R1 4:51)|
|Women's flyweight||Jennifer Maia def. Casey O'Neill||Unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)|
|Middleweight||Marvin Vettori def. Roman Dolidze||Unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)|
|Featherweight||Jack Shore def. Makwan Amirkhani||Submission (Rear-naked choke; R2 4:27)|
|Lightweight||Chris Duncan def. Omar Morales||Split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)|
|Lightweight||Yanal Ashmouz def. Sam Patterson||TKO (R1 1:15)|
|Flyweight||Muhammad Mokaev def. Jafel Filho||Submission (Neck crank; R3 4:32)|
Early preliminary card
|Featherweight||Lerone Murphy def. Gabriel Santos||Split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)|
|Middleweight||Christian Leroy Duncan def. Duško Todorović||TKO (R1 1:52)|
|Catchweight (129.5 lbs)||Jake Hadley def. Malcolm Gordon||TKO (R1 1:01)|
|Middleweight||Joanne Wood def. Luana Carolina||Split decision (28–29, 30–27, 29–28)|
|Flyweight||Jai Herbert v Ľudovít Klein||Majority draw (29-27, 28-28, 28-28)|
|Women's flyweight||Veronica Hardy def. Juliana Miller||Unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)|
We saw Justin Gaethje and Marvin Vettori put themselves back in the title picture, with Rafael Fiziev and Roman Dolidze increasing their stock, before Leon Edwards defended his welterweight title against Kamaru Usman in a night that will live long in the memory.
A historic event at the O2 Arena.
Thanks for joining us here, and goodnight!
It was no one-off, it was no fluke; Leon Edwards has defeated one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time not once, but twice.
He did indeed win 48-46, 48-46 and 47-47, winning four rounds with two judges and three rounds with another. It was a phenomenal performance from Edwards.
Edwards is asked about a fight with Colby Covington, which he plays down. Khamzat Chimaev will also be waiting in the wings.
There might not be tonnes of depth in the middleweight division right now, but the top four are all worthy contenders.
Leon Edwards has retained the UFC welterweight title!!!
A terrific fight, and Edwards may have just about held onto his title.
Usman was clearly tiring throughout the fourth and was breathing out of his mouth in the fifth. He's left it all in there and despite taking some decent shots early in the round, has thrown everything at Edwards.
Five close rounds and the fight is extremely tough to call. Edwards 48-46 could be on the cards, but don't be surprised with a draw that will see him retain the title...
Usman isn't quite as busy in the fourth round, and Edwards' relentless kicking may have played a big part.
Both the legs and the body, Edwards is getting to work. It may be that he's looking for two things - to hinder the movement and takedown offence of Usman, and lower the hands to potentially set up the same finish we saw last August.
Wow - Edwards loses a point for grabbing the fence. Usman is looking to haul Edwards away from the fence and take him down, but Edwards holds the cage, and having already grabbed the glove, it's an easy decision for Herb Dean.
Usman protests that he should be given the position back, but Dean points out that a point has been taken instead.
Edwards then catches Usman with a flush groin strike - that's two of those now - and Usman is looking frustrated more than anything. He needs to maintain his composure as he's had some good moments and appears to be growing into the fight.
The point really changes the complexion of the fight, though. They could be level through three, or Edwards could be two up.
Lots more action than the first round, with Edwards undoubtedly wobbling Usman with a big knee after Usman rushed in with Edwards against the fence. The biggest moment of the fight so far, and Edwards' speed advantage is becoming increasingly apparant.
The challenger responded well and eventually secured a takedown, and while he landed a handful of strikes, there was nothing to trouble Edwards, who made his way back to his feet.
Great round for Edwards.
Both men looked a little tentative, understandably so, but Edwards has had the better of the brief exchanges we saw, landing a huge body kick to the liver, which Usman masked well, but surely caught his attention.
Herb Dean warns Edwards for hooking the glove of Usman, but all in all he'll be pleased with his start.
There's so much riding on this one. Kamaru Usman wasn't just the pound-for-pound king; he was being considered amongst the greatest mixed martial artists of all time.
He'll go down as that no matter what happens tonight, but in order to cement his legacy, he needs his title back.
For Edwards, will he go down as a Matt Serra; a champion who caused a huge upset only to drop the belt in the rematch? Or is the middleweight division well and truly his? We'll soon find out.
There is life in the old dog yet! Gaethje was a 2/1 underdog coming into this, but insists he's going to take one more run at the title.
Justin Gaethje wins by majority decision: 29-28, 29-28, 28-28
Lots of credit must go to Rafael Fiziev though. His stature has only increased and he should be back in with another top-5 fighter in the summer. The lightweight division continues to deliver.
WHAT A FIGHT! Can we not have another round?!
An enormous right hand from Fiziev to start the third looked to trouble Gaethje, but he hung in as we've seen him do countless times over his career.
Both men landed great shots throughout the final round but Gaethje certainly poured it on in the closing stages and Fiziev's eyes are a total mess
This fight could go to anyone, but Gaethje may just have nicked it at the death.
We've not quite seen the Gaethje we're used to yet, but the former interim champ lands a brilliant combination which surely gets the attention of Fiziev.
Fiziev meanwhile looks to be targeting the body to slow Gaethje down, but Gaethje's familiar leg kicks are starting to wear on Fiziev, who seems reluctant to put all his weight on it.
All to play for after two rounds.
As dangerous a kicker as Fiziev is, it's the old reliable low leg kick from Gaethje that nearly takes the legs from under his opponent.
Fiziev deals with the kick and while both men are respectful of each other's striking, the power in Fiziev's hands is frightening, but few have the chin of Justin Gaethje.
All in all, a fairly even first round that Fiziev looks to have taken.
In terms of the success-to-entertainment ratio, few rank higher than Justin Gaethje in the UFC. The aptly-nicknamed The Highlight, Gaethje has fought in two title fights as well as winning an interim title, all while racking up bonus after bonus.
How long he's got left in the Octagon remains to be seen, and he's up against one of the UFC's most up and coming stars in Rafael Fizeiv, who's 2/5 to win.
This one has Fight of the Night written all over it.
Watch Laura Sanko and Adam Catterall's preview of the co-main event here.
Tremendous performance by Gunnar Nelson!
There were no huge surprises with Barberena looking a little hesitant on the outside before Nelson eventually lands the takedown, and it's always an uphill battle with such an accomplished grappler.
In the closing seconds of the first round, Nelson sticks an armbar to record the 13th submission win of his career and his seventh in the UFC, meaning he overtakes Chris Lytle and Demian Maia for the most submission wins in UFC welterweight history.
European regular Gunnar Nelson appears in London for the eighth time, with his only defeat in the capital being the split decision loss to a certain Leon Edwards in 2019.
Barberena meanwhile may have made the most relaxed entrance in UFC history, singing and dancing to Deniece Williams's 'Let's Hear It for the Boy' on his way to the Octagon. Interesting approach.
Nelson is 1/4 favourite.
It wasn't really in any doubt, Maia wins with a comfortable decision, marking the first loss on O'Neill's record.
Really impressive performance from Jennifer Maia, who's surely earned a decision victory here.
O'Neill had moments and she landed her fair share of punches, but Maia consistently had the better of the exchanges, and O'Neill never really found a way to trouble her opponent.
Credit to Maia, she's still looking great on the feet with solid combinations throughout that O'Neill simply doesn't have an answer for.
O'Neill lands a couple of nice reminders to her opponent, but she needs a big improvement in the final round if she's to maintain her unbeaten record.
Jennifer Maia's looking very lively in there, staying on the outside but relentlessly targeting the head of O'Neill, who simply can't get out of the way and has a bloodied nose for her troubles.
What you could say in favour of the Australian is that she's occupied the centre of the Octagon perhaps conserving some energy, while Maia has been extremely busy on the outside, pushing an intense pace. If Maia can maintain that, she may be on her way to victory, but it's a big if...
Jennifer Maia and Casey O'Neill look to make their way up the women's flyweight rankings, and following the defeat of Valentina Shevchenko to Alexa Grasso at the start of the month, the division might just have opened up to a number of contenders.
O'Neill is 9-0 in her pro MMA career and is to win.
There are boos ringing around the O2 Arena which feels harsh. The 30-27 may have been generous, but the right man has come away with the decision.
A great fight and both men emerge with a lot of credit.
Marvin Vettori looked to be in trouble at the end of the first round and came off worst when the pair clashed heads, but he's fought shrewdly since. Dolidze landed decent shots in the second and third, but it feels unlikely he's done enough to win the fight.
Either way, he's likely earned a shot at another top-10 opponent.
Dolidze appears to be slowing down somewhat. Largely controlling the centre of the Octagon, but not finding Vettori with as much success as he did in the first.
But Dolidze is a scary man, and Vettori must be mindful of his power. Should it go the distance, it will likely be in favour of whoever takes the final round with the fight likely 19-19 after two.
Right hand, right hand, right hand - Dolidze pours it on and that's a great first round from the Georgian.
There's a brief stoppage for an accidental clash of heads, but Vettori's going to need to find a way to stop Dolidze firing lefts and rights at will.
Marvin Vettori v Roman Dolidze opens up the card in a big fight in the middleweight division.
Vettori's last two middleweight fights have seen him lose to then-champion to Israel Adesanya and then Robert Whittaker. If he still has title ambitions, he needs to win tonight.
For Roman Dolidze, if he can enter the title picture with a win against Vettori, having won his last four fights - with the last three seeing him earn Performance of the Night honours.
2/5 - Vettori
Much, much better from Shore! We've seen Amirkhani start fights well and fade and that happened again here.
Shore suddenly looked twice the fighter. His corner reminded him how much time they've spent drilling head kicks only for him to go the entire first round without throwing one, which he immediately rectified at the start of the second.
Taking Amirkhani down, Shore then passed to the back with Amirkhani forced to tap out via rear-naked choke.
He was successful on the feet with head kicks and jabs.— bet365 (@bet365) March 18, 2023
He opted to finish the fight on the ground against someone who hasn't been submitted in 12 years.
'My jiu-jitsu is as good as anyone in the division'
🏴 Jack Shore makes a statement at featherweight. https://t.co/d38VQBJ6Wy
Jack Shore is in a tougher fight than he perhaps expected. Amirkhani landed a couple of decent punches which got the attention of Shore before a nice level change brought about a takedown for Amirkhani.
Shore kept himself out of danger on the mat, but spent nearly half the round on his back, and he needs a big improvement.
Making the step up to featherweight, Wales's Jack Shore looks to bounce back from his first MMA defeat as he takes on Finland's Makwan Amirkhani in the final prelim of the night.
Shore is 1/6 favourite.
An utterly bemusing scorecard to give al three rounds to Morales, but two judges score the fight to Duncan, and the Scot gets a deserved win on his UFC debut.
A rather underwhelming fight after the two early finishes we've just seen. Duncan was certainly the busier fighter throughout and should have the decision sewn up.
He had Morales pinned against the fence for much of the third round, with the Venezuelan offering little in return. In truth, the pair could probably have been stood up, so little was happening. Eventually, Morales managed to break free but with too little time on the clock.
Decision to come...
A nice recovery from Duncan after a nervy moment at the end of the first. He's dangerous with his striking, and delivers when his corner call for takedowns, but Morales is defending them well.
He's the busier of the two fighters, but Morales is countering well.
It's anyone's fight heading into the final round, with the scorecards quite possibly reading 19-19.
What an opening round! Duncan looked to be getting the better of the opening exchanges, though not by much, until Morales landed some nice shots putting the Scot on the ground, threatening to finish the fight.
Duncan just about managed to get back to his feet, landing a nice shot in return on Morales, who shakes his finger to point out he slipped and wasn't knocked down.
It could've gone either way, but Morales's late flurry might have earned him the round.
It was one of the biggest upsets in UFC history, particularly considering Leon Edwards was well on his way to a unanimous decision defeat.
With an hour to go until the main card, relive that incredible main event from UFC 278.
🗣️ Relive 𝙏𝙃𝘼𝙏 corner talk.— bet365 (@bet365) March 17, 2023
💥 Relive 𝙏𝙃𝘼𝙏 knockout.
👑 Relive 𝙏𝙃𝘼𝙏 crowning moment.
Ahead of UFC 286, we revisit Leon 'Rocky' Edwards' incredible victory over Kamaru Usman.#UFC286 pic.twitter.com/9ijEjawzrF
With a six-inch height difference, the difficulty for Ashmouz was always going to be getting on the inside of the 6ft3in Patterson.
Patterson looked to use the range difference with a low kick which Ashmouz checked, countering with a perfect left hook to the temple. Patterson went down, eating a series of strikes before Marc Goddard eventually stepped in.
Patterson was absolutely out of it, not even realising the fight had been stopped, despite being surrounded by Goddard and his coaching team.
Excellent performance and excellent win for Ashmouz.
Britain's Sam Patterson looks to extend his 10-fight unbeaten streak in his UFC debut against 6-0 Yanal Ashmouz.
Patterson is 4/11 to win, and 10/11 to win by stoppage.
A much better final round from Mokaev, who came out much more aggressive, pursuing a finish, that was until he found himself in a painful-looking kneebar.
Though he didn't seem too concerned by it, his knee was over-extended and bending the wrong way. He eventually managed to free himself and get back to work, eventually locking in the neck crank in the closing stages of the fight.
The after-effects of the kneebar are clearly still being felt, with Mokaev hobbling over to Herb Dean.
Mokaev moves to 10-0 and surely eyes up a top-10 opponent next.
There's an opportunity for Mokaev to make something of a statement here, albeit against a fighter not expected to pose much of a threat, and while he's doing enough to win rounds, his performance so far has been steady rather than spectacular.
Let's see if he ups the pace in the final round.
Jafel Filho briefly threatened a guillotine early in the round, but Mokaev was able to escape easily enough before getting to work on the ground. A solid round for the Brit, who looks a level above his opponent.
Mokaev has shortened from 1/10 to 1/20.
No, there hasn't been an early stoppage - the lights have literally gone out at the O2 Arena, moments before Muhammad Mokaev was due to take on Jafel Filho!
And after a brief interruption, the lights are back on, and we're underway!
And there's been no shortage of action.
bet365's resident UFC contributor Veronica Hardy returned from a three-year absence from the Octagon with a unanimous decision win over Juliana Miller; Joanne Wood snapped her three-fight losing streak with a split decision win over Luana Carolina; Jake Hadley won via TKO 61 seconds into his fight with Malcolm Gordon with a devastating body punch; and Christian Leroy Duncan recorded his first UFC win with opponent Duško Todorović and unfortunate and apparently serious knee injury.
The final fight in the early prelims saw England's Lerone Murphy narrowly out-point Gabriel Santos, winning via split decision.
We'll have updates from the remaining prelims shortly, starting with Muhammad Mokaev v Jafel Filho.
Leon Edwards defends his UFC welterweight title in front of a home crowd at UFC 286.— bet365 (@bet365) March 18, 2023
We've Super Boosted him to beat Kamaru Usman.