To look Leon EdwardsYou will see gold and green. Romantics will see this in the flickering of the Jamaican flag behind them; The cynics will see it in the glow of the UFC title and the money it can earn.

Softly spoken, he was a Kingston born heavyweight England’s second UFC champion in August – fight from behind With one minute left on the clock, Kamaru knocked out Usman – British MMA finally found a moment to catch up Michael Bisping’s championship in 2016.

This was not simply due to the miraculous nature of Edwards’ courtesy victory. head shot from the sky against the pound-for-pound king who had already beaten Edwards; it was also due to the 31-year-old’s suffering. decline after years of failure going all the way to the final championship shot.

It seemed like nothing could steal the romance of the moment, and Edwards’ upcoming match also looked impassable. On March 18, Edwards will defend his title against Usman in the main event. UFC 286 at the O2 Arena in London – It’s been almost three years since the Briton was deprived of a headline shootout with Tyron Woodley at the same venue due to the onset of the Covid epidemic.

Moreover, UFC 286 follows the two raucous Fight Nights that took place at O2 last year; British warriors lit the fuse that would allow MMA to explode on those shores when Edwards’ left shin made contact with Usman’s skull in Salt Lake City.

So why be disappointed before UFC 286 even starts?

After many fans have been priced by chance to attend due to ticket prices (the cheapest seats cost around £200), home audiences now also risk being priced in.

BT Sport, the UFC’s sole UK broadcaster, announced on Wednesday that UFC 286 will air pay-per-view at a cost of £19.95. This number will be available to one-time customers and subscribers – the latter already paying a monthly fee of £29.99.

To be fair, BT Sport rarely resorts to Box Office when it comes to the UFC; but still, that’s also part of the appeal of the mixed martial arts growth here in recent years. While many of the biggest boxing matches take place almost automatically on Box Office, the UFC has gotten at least a little more accessible – it still resides on a subscription platform.

Now with MMA, where the sport has been most visible in the UK since its inception in the early 1990s, it risks getting blurred once again.

Leon Edwards (left) and Kamaru Usman will face each other for the third time when they make headlines in London.

(Getty Images)

While Edwards’ name is ubiquitous and respected among MMA fans and fighters, there is still a way to go before you hear the name in every household. Only Conor McGregor has achieved this kind of reach. Also, new fans who are aware that Edwards knocked out Usman and want to see his first championship defense may not have invested enough to pay the PPV price yet.

And while it’s a fight as big as Edwards vs Usman 3, the bottom card in O2 Arena isn’t as well built as many UFC PPVs – last week’s for example The long-awaited return of Jon Jones.

Usman vs Edwards is a great main event amid four straight headline matches that have wowed UFC fans (Makhachev vs Volkanovsky, Jones vs. GaneAnd Pereira vs Adesanya 2 being others); In fact, there is some discussion that one of the other cards would be more appropriate as a UK PPV rather than next week’s event.

BT Sport has done a great job in growing MMA in the UK, and it’s not just because it’s the only UFC broadcaster in that country; The publisher’s video packs and fighter interviews are among the best in the world. Also, UFC London will sell out and hit impressive PPV numbers to the disappointment of fans.

But there is a danger in underestimating such an achievement; It’s a move that will undermine the work Edwards and his colleagues are doing here to grow the sport.

A step backwards in the pricing of UFC 286 easily outnumbers BT’s steps forward with the UFC – but it could be a step back at exactly the wrong time.

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