Stephen Thompson believes Kamaru Usman will be the welterweight champion again after this Saturday.
Usman lost his title back in August at UFC 278 with a fifth-round head kick KO loss to Leon Edwards with less than a minute left. Usman was clearly winning the fight but Edwards landed a beautifully timed head kick and now ahead of the trilogy, Usman is once again a sizeable betting favorite.
Not only is Usman the betting favorite, but Thompson – a welterweight contender – expects ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ to reclaim his title in London, England in the main event of UFC 286 on Saturday.
Stephen Thompson on Kamaru Usman
“Well, looking back at the last fight, Usman was winning the majority of the rounds,” Thompson told Submission Radio. “Leon got the first one. It was amazing because you never saw Usman getting taken down before and controlled on the ground. Leon did that. After that round, it was all Usman up until the point of he got knocked out. Now, do I think Leon could set it up again? I do. But on paper I have Usman winning this fight, just because he was dominating the last one until he just wasn’t. And it’s harder to pull something off again for the second time. It’s gonna be very, very difficult.”
Although Stephen Thompson expects Kamaru Usman to beat Leon Edwards at UFC 286, he does worry about Usman’s confidence after getting knocked out. He knows some fighters aren’t the same after a KO loss but he does expect Usman to rebound nicely.
“But on top of that, you’ve got to think where’s Usman’s mindset going into this,” Thompson said. “Right? A guy who’s been so dominant in the UFC and getting finished like that, getting knocked out like that, does it mess that mindset up? And you kind of see, you know, his social media presence wasn’t the same as it was before.”
“I don’t know if that has anything to do with it, but that just sticks out to me. I think you’ve got to ask yourself, is his mindset there and is his drive still the same after the way he lost? But from the last fight and the way he was winning it, on paper I’ve got Usman winning it.”
Time will tell is Stephen Thompson’s theory will hold true at UFC 286.