Ariel Helwani was left dissatisfied with the UFC’s way of announcing the trilogy between Leon Edwards and Kamaru Usman.
Following UFC Vegas 67, UFC President Dana White took to the post-fight press conference to make some massive announcements. The most surprising was the departure of Francis Ngannou. The Cameroon native was stripped from his heavyweight title and released from the company.
Amidst that, White also announced the return of former UFC light heavyweight title holder Jon Jones, who would face Ciryl Gane at UFC 285 on March 4th for the vacant heavyweight title.
With the news in the heavyweight division stealing the majority of the headlines, major fight announcements for UFC 286 in London were lost in the mix.
Dana White announces Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman for UFC 286
— UFC (@ufc) January 15, 2023
While talking to the media, White confirmed Edwards would make his first title defence on UK soil on March 18th against Usman. Usman was always the front-runner to face the Brit. However, the bout was in doubt after “The Nigerian Nightmare” was forced to undergo hand surgery, meaning he needed time to recover.
White also revealed lightweight contenders Justin Gaethje and Rafael Fiziev would clash in the UFC 286 co-main event.
Helwani has a knack for hyping up fights and selling them to his audience, but he was completely underwhelmed with how the welterweight title fight was put forward.
On a recent episode of The MMA Hour, the Canadian journalist weighed in on the press conference filled with announcements.
Ariel Helwani weighs in on UFC welterweight title fight announcement
“I kind of chuckled a little bit. People love to say… ‘Oh man, you really screwed the UFC with that Brock Lesnar announcement.’ … Meanwhile, these massive fights like Leon and Kamaru 3, huge UK pay-per-view… first time since 2016, just gets announced in a throwaway comment at a press conference,” Helwani said. “Like, come on. The argument that they have these big plans all the time, like, ‘You’re really screwing their plans.’
“A throwaway comment. Kamaru Usman versus Leon Edwards 3, one of the biggest fights of the year, just gets thrown away like that. ‘Oh, and by the way, forgot to mention, that fight’s happening. Oh, and by the way, Fiziev versus Gaethje too.’” Helwani added. “Like, nothing? That’s it? That was the big announcement?”
Edwards shocked the world in Salt Lake City when dethroning Usman with a deadly fifth-round head-kick knockout earlier in the year. The viral KO took the series to 1-1, with the trilogy on the horizon.
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