Path to Victory for Each Fighter
Everyone would love a 10-second knockout or a quick submission, but that’s not often how these things go, especially not at the championship level. Instead, it’s usually the competitor that has crafted the better game plan and did the better job of executing things inside the Octagon that comes away with their hand raised and the gold around their waist.
So, how does either man get it done on Saturday night?
Chartier: It’s whoever leads the dance.
For Leon, Colby (Covington) kind of showed the blueprint that if you stay busy against Usman, you can win the volume game and keep him on defense, that way he’s less offensive. He’s reacting to what you’re doing, so that any offense that comes — whether you call it panic wrestling, reactionary striking — he’s countering when he really wants to go first.
It’s whoever can establish those kickboxing range weapons first. Whoever can go first and make the other one react — that’s who is going to have success.
Brown: Either guy could do it multiple ways, but Edwards could do it with damage, particularly with his elbows in the close-range, pressure-striking range. Usman could hurt him on the feet, but he could also put him on the floor. I think he’ll have more success doing it in the center; I think he’ll have more trouble getting him down and holding him down along the wall.
Nicksick: If I’m in the Usman camp, I think I want to attach myself to Leon’s legs early, to make him worry about the fit-in. I like the way Usman likes to attach to the snatch-single and connect to the body lock, and then the head-inside single.
I like his transitions and how he flows, and I like that early in the first couple rounds because I think you put that wrestling element into Leon’s head because now when you start feinting level changes, that thought of getting taken down — even if you’re not getting taken down, you still have to worry about it.
The other part is that by getting into those grappling exchanges, it’s going to force blood flow into Leon’s arms. Let’s put some taxing on those arms and make him pummel, make him wrestle, and doing so in a five-round fight, you’re going to add that cardio element, where we already know Usman is really good in those deeper rounds.
With Leon, I think it’s very important to stay long — use the long jab, use the long cross; I wouldn’t get into any hook combinations or anything that helps close the distance. I think if you’re going to throw kicks, I’d go to the head — I think it jams a lot of Usman’s power shots.
And throw things up the mid-line because that’s going to help negate some of those level-changes. If Usman is changing levels and there is a teep up the middle, a knee up the middle, a cross or an uppercut, it’s a deterrent. Change levels along with Usman’s level changes.