LEON EDWARDS has been urged to savour every moment of his special walk to the octagon tonight.
Edwards’ rubber match with the UFC’s former pound-for-pound king marks the first showcase bout on home soil – which was initially due to take place three years ago.
Surging heavyweight contender Tom Aspinall knows a thing or two about headlining the arena having topped the bill for the UFC’s last two visits to London.
And he’s encouraged Britain’s second UFC champion to drink in the special atmosphere at the North Greenwich dome.
He said: “I’d just tell him to take it [all] in and enjoy it. You don’t get many of these opportunities.
“It’s a big deal to main event in your home country, it’s massive.
“And to have your home fans on your side, you might [only] get two, three or four chances to do it in your whole career.
“So go out there and enjoy, the same as you do every fight. It’s no different to any of your other fights. Take it for what it is, it’s just a fight.
“Everyone is there who you love, so try and enjoy this time. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and enjoy it.”
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Edwards ripped the welterweight strap from Usman’s clutches with a stunning Hail Mary head kick in the fifth round of their rematch last August.
There is a consensus among MMA fans that The Nigerian Nightmare has come back too quickly after the brutal KO loss, the first of his career.
Aspinall, however, understands why the 35-year-old has opted not to take a prolonged break and jump straight back into the fire.
He said: “It’s really difficult to say, [if he’s made the right decision]. Usman is getting a bit older now, he’s getting towards the back end of his career.
“So maybe he just wants to win the title one more time.
But if he were in Usman’s shoes, he would’ve taken a bit more time off.
He said: “I don’t know where he’s at. Everyone is their own individual and it’s such an individual sport.
“I honestly have no idea what I would do. [I think] I’d try and give my brain a little bit more of a rest.
“But if he’s winning 20 odd minutes of the fight or the two fights he’s basically winning most of the round, surely your ego is going to kick in and you’re going to want to jump back in.
“It’s all personal preference.”
Watch UFC 286 live on BT Sport Box Office on Saturday 18th March. Coverage of the main card will start from 9pm. The prelims will be available to watch for free from 7pm on YouTube, BTSport.com, BT Sport App and BT Sport Box Office App.