Leon Edwards will protect an unbeaten run lasting more than seven years when he headlines a UFC card in his homeland of the U.K. for the first time against Kamaru Usman.
The two face off at UFC 286 on March 18 for Edwards' UFC welterweight title.
Edwards and Usman's bout will be the trilogy fight in a compelling rivalry that began with that most recent loss for Edwards, in Florida in December 2015, and produced a dramatic dose of revenge when the challenger knocked 'The Nigerian Nightmare' out in Utah in December 2022.
Almost 12 years after his professional debut, Birmingham-based Edwards is now preparing for the most important night of his career so far against an opponent who had not previously been beaten for almost a decade.
The Sporting News looks at the career of Edwards and his rise to becoming a superstar of British MMA.
MORE: Sign up to watch the UFC 286 PPV, exclusively on ESPN+
How old is Leon Edwards?
Edwards was born in the capital of Jamaica, Kingston, on August 25 1991, making the fighter known as 'Rocky' 31 years old.
The Edwards family lived in a wooden shack that was essentially a single room with a zinc roof, Edwards told ESPN before his first fight with Usman.
"What if my dad didn't bring me to the United Kingdom?" Edwards asked, reflecting on his move as a child from Kingston, where he said he became used to hearing gunshots fired as part of gang warfare. "What if my gym never opened in the Erdington neighborhood of Birmingham, England? It's just mad -- it's a crazy thing.
"Why was I the one who made it off the streets of Kingston, Jamaica, who escaped the killing, the drugs and the poverty when so many others didn't?"
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Leon Edwards record, bio
Edwards' father worked in London after buying the family a house in the Aston area of Birmingham, while his mother was a cleaner. Tragically for Edwards, who emphasised that his childhood was "not a sad story" and he was "happy as a kid", his father was shot and killed in a London nightclub when the future MMA fighter was 14.
Edwards was part of gangs and frequently involved in fights as a teenager. "There were a few things I did during this time that I truly regret," he said.
"It's hard to believe it was me who did it. It's like a different life. I don't like talking about it. And I try every day to make up for them."
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A turning point arrived when Edwards passed a new local MMA training facility with his mother, who decided to involve him in the sport as a way to keep her son out of trouble.
The idea proved a masterstroke: Edwards proceeded to become welterweight champion for the now-defunct British Association of Mixed Martial Arts (BAMMA). He joined the UFC after making one BAMMA title defence, losing his debut for the promotion by split decision to Claudio Silva in Brazil before winning twice and losing to Usman.
Edwards then won 10 consecutive fights before facing Usman again, including three victories in London to cement his status as a hero to U.K. fans and wins abroad over the likes of Donald Cerrone and Nate Diaz.
"I never dreamed of being a top-10 fighter in the world as a kid," said Edwards, adding that he was "made to be in this position".
"Never. That wasn't even a thought in my head. To come now to be where I am, it's f------ mad. It's crazy."
When is UFC 286: Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman 3?
- Date: Saturday, March 18 | Sunday, March 19
- Early Prelims: 1 p.m. ET | 6 p.m. GMT | 5 a.m. AEDT
- Prelims: 3 p.m. ET | 8 p.m. GMT | 7 a.m. AEDT
- Main card: 5 p.m. ET | 10 p.m. GMT | 9 a.m. AEDT
- Main event: 8 p.m. ET | 1 a.m. GMT | 12 p.m. AEDT (approx.)
UFC 286 takes place on March 18.
The early prelims start at 1 p.m. ET | 6 p.m. GMT | 5 a.m. AEDT, followed by the prelims at 3 p.m. ET | 8 p.m. GMT | 7 a.m. AEDT. The UFC 286 main card will begin at 5 p.m. ET | 10 p.m. GMT | 9 a.m. AEDT.
Edwards and Usman should make their way to the octagon around 8 p.m. ET | 1 a.m. GMT | 12 p.m. AEDT, depending on how long the undercard fights last.
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How to watch UFC 286: Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman 3
|Country||Date||Channel + Live Stream (main card)|
|United States||Sat. March 18||ESPN+, ESPN PPV|
|Canada||Sat. March 18||BELL, Rogers, Shaw, SaskTel, Videotron, Telus, Eastlink, UFC PPV on UFC Fight Pass|
|United Kingdom||Sat. March 18||BT Sport|
|Australia||Sun. March 19||Main Event, Kayo Sports, Fetch TV, UFC PPV on UFC Fight Pass|
The main card for UFC 286 is available in the U.S. and Mexico on the ESPN+ subscription streaming service for a pay-per-view cost. Earlier fights are viewable live on ESPN+.
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In Canada, the main card pay-per-view is available on BELL, Rogers, Shaw, SaskTel, Videotron, Telus, Eastlink, and UFC PPV on UFC Fight Pass.
In the United Kingdom, the main card will be available on BT Sport, with the prelims on UFC Fight Pass.
In Australia, the main card will be on Main Event, Kayo Sports, Fetch TV, and UFC PPV on UFC Fight Pass.
Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman 3 price: How much does UFC 286 cost?
- $79.99 (current ESPN+ subscribers)
- $124.98 (new subscribers)
In the U.S., the UFC 286 main card is available via pay-per-view on ESPN+, which also requires a subscription. The PPV price for UFC 286 is $79.99 for current subscribers. New subscribers can pay a bundle price of $124.98 for the UFC 286 pay-per-view and an ESPN+ annual subscription, which offers savings of more than 30 percent.
BT Sport Box Office will charge £19.99 to access live coverage of the card. The buying window opens on March 10.
MORE: Sign up to watch the UFC 286 PPV, exclusively on ESPN+
|ESPN+ Monthly Subscription||$9.99/month|
|ESPN+ Annual Subscription||$99.99/year|
|The Disney Bundle w/Hulu Ad-Supported||$13.99/month|
|The Disney Bundle w/Hulu No-Ads||$19.99/month|
|UFC PPV Standalone||$74.99 each|
|UFC PPV Package (UFC PPV & ESPN+ Annual)||$99.98, then $69.99/year|
|UFC PPV & The Disney Bundle||
$88.98, then $13.99/month
Click here to learn about the different pricing and bundling options with the ESPN+ platform.
UFC 286 fight card
- Leon Edwards vs Kamaru Usman 3 for the UFC welterweight title
- Justin Gaethje vs Rafael Fiziev – lightweight
- Joanne Wood vs Luana Carolina — flyweight
- Gunnar Nelson vs Daniel Rodriguez — welterweight
- Marvin Vettori vs Roman Dolidze — middleweight
- Jack Shore vs Makwan Amirkhani — featherweight
- Sam Patterson vs Yanal Ashmoz — lightweight
- Nathaniel Wood vs Lerone Murphy — featherweight
FIGHT PASS Prelims
- Jai Herbert vs Ludovit Klein — lightweight
- Muhammad Mokaev vs Jafel Filho — flyweight
- Jake Hadley vs Malcolm Gordon — flyweight
- Christian Duncan vs Dusko Todorovic — middleweight
- Juliana Miller vs Veronica Macedo — flyweight
- Jennifer Maia vs. Casey O'Neill - flyweight
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