Kamaru Usman is drowned out by crowd chants of ‘head shot, dead’ in London as Leon Edwards vows: ‘I’ll put my shin across his head again’, with pair facing off ahead of UFC 286
- Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman came face-to-face for first time since rematch
- ‘Rocky’ is defending his welterweight title at UFC 286 in London on Saturday
- UFC 286 EXPLAINER: Everything you need to know ahead of the massive event
Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman came face-to-face for the first time since ‘Rocky’ obliterated the welterweight champion with a head kick to take his title last August.
With thousands of fans packed into the crowd at Magazine London, a vast space in Greenwich Peninsula a stone’s throw from Saturday night’s venue, the headliners made their case for victory.
Chants of ‘head shot, dead’ drowned out Usman’s first responses, with the crowd repeating the line Edwards shouted into the mic after his stunning win last time.
The Brit has been a slow burner in terms of picking up adoration from the fans but they were right behind him here.
‘It is heartfelt with the fans,’ he said. ‘I am proud to be adopted by the UK, Saturday I am putting on a show for the UK and Jamaica.
Leon Edwards (left) and Kamaru Usman came face to face for the first time since last year
Edwards was relaxed and seemed full of confidence ahead of the huge fight on Saturday
‘I’ve never lost in the UK amateur or pro, I thrive off the energy of the fans and Saturday night will be no different.
‘I’m honoured to be he, I’ve worked hard to get here and on Saturday night I’ll make you all proud. I’ll put my shin across his head!
‘As the king, I welcome more challengers, so whoever comes next. I’m going out to show off.
‘This is my time, he’s a good fighter but I truly believe I’m better and I can’t see him coming to the UK and taking the belt back with him.
‘It will mean the world, I was meant to headline with Woodley, now here we are, “and still”.
‘Everyone wrote me off but that built character. We’re both pros, he’s been here a long time, when we start the fight it will be on.’
The pair will be deep into their weight cutting process ahead of the battle with the scales on Friday morning.
But they were energised by a lively crowd, the belt placed firmly in front of Edwards’ position on the main stage across from the man who held it for four years of dominance.
If anything can shake the confidence of the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’, perhaps it was the head kick from hell that served him the first knockout of his career.
Just over half a year on, he’ll have to confront any demons that linger and try to assert the dominance he found for the majority of the first two meetings with Edwards.
Edwards sensationally knocked out Usman (right) with a now iconic head kick last August
For the most part the champion and challenger were civil on stage but it bubbled up when Usman mimicked Edwards’ cornerman’s words when he tried to rally his man before the fifth round last August.
‘Don’t let him bully you, son’, he teased.
When Usman asked what Edwards thought about being dominated for most of the fight last time, he replied: ‘What’s your excuse for the head kick?’
Usman composed himself between loud heckles from the crowd and went on: ‘It was a learning experience, we’ll get back on the horse and do what it required. He’s an ordinary person, I’m not, I’m extraordinary.
‘It has never been about me being driven, I always gave 100 per cent and it has never been about the work, I’ve always been that way.
‘I got to go back and just grind like I normally do.
Edwards is thought to have the advantage in the stand up battle over the challenger
Usman is attempting to win back his belt having suffered an incredibly heavy KO defeat
‘There’s not many more things for me to do, the Colby one was special, Masvidal was special and this will be too. If Leon wants to open the door for me, the king will walk through.’
Both men will be twitching to get through the next 48 hours and let their fighting do the talking. And Usman promised a thrilling show for the hottest ticket in town, second only to the Super Bowl in terms of pricing.
‘We love the interaction with the fans. But once the cage door locks I’ll remind him of who he really is,’ he warned.
‘We’re from two different walks of life and our paths crossed and we’re going to put on a spectacular performance for you guys.’
Source: Read Full Article