UFC 278: Usman vs. Edwards Picks, Predictions, Odds
Kamaru Usman is considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC today. Usman is the longest reigning men’s champion in the UFC, and he has successfully defended the UFC Welterweight Championship five times since winning the belt in March 2019. He has dominated the division, and that has led to action on the champion since he was initially listed as a -350 favorite over challenger Leon Edwards. Currently, Usman is a -400 favorite over Edwards, and that number could rise before UFC 278 gets underway on Saturday night.
Former UFC Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold will face Paulo Costa in the co-main event, and legendary featherweight Jose Aldo is also going to be in action too. That makes this card must-see television.
UFC 278 is going to take place on Saturday, August 20, 2022, from Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. The prelims will be available on ESPN and ABC starting at 8 p.m. ET, while the main card will get underway at 10 p.m. ET on PPV through ESPN+.
Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards Picks
With apologies to Christian Okoye, there is a more prominent Nigerian Nightmare that has made his impact on the sporting world. Usman has not lost a fight in almost a decade at this point, and he is looking to win his 20th straight bout. Usman broke into the UFC in December 2015, beating Edwards by unanimous decision, and he slowly worked his way up the ladder until winning a unanimous decision against Tyron Woodley at UFC 235 to claim the UFC Welterweight Championship.
Usman has since defeated Colby Covington twice, Jorge Masvidal twice, and Gilbert Burns once. He scored knockout victories in three of those wins, and he earned a bonus for all three of those knockouts. In his MMA career, 10 of his 20 wins have come by decision as he constantly puts pressure on opponents, and he has great ground skills from his time as a national championship winning collegiate wrestler.
Edwards has not lost since suffering that defeat at the hands of Usman. Edwards is 9-0-1 in his last 10 fights, scoring impressive victories over Vicente Luque, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, Rafael dos Anjos, and Nate Diaz. His lone blemish was a No Contest when he headlined a card with Belal Muhammad, as he accidentally poked Muhammad in the eye and the fight was stopped.
Still, there isn’t much reason to believe in Edwards coming into his first title fight. Edwards convincingly lost to Usman in their first showdown, and Usman has only gotten better and stronger over the years. Usman has defeated the best of the best, while Edwards doesn’t have a current win over an opponent ranked in the top five in any division. That does not bode well for the challenger on Saturday.
To Win Fight: Kamaru Usman (-400)
Total Rounds: Over 4.5 (-188)
Paulo Costa vs. Luke Rockhold Picks
Luke Rockhold is a heavy underdog against Paulo Costa in the co-main event. Rockhold won the UFC Middleweight Championship off Chris Weidman at UFC 194 in December 2015, but he has lost three of his four fights since that win. He was soundly defeated by Michael Bisping in his first title defense, and he was knocked out by both Yoel Romero and Jan Blachowicz.
Rockhold is fighting for the first time in over three years. He stated that he was done competing after his loss to Blachowicz, but he expressed a desire to return to the Octagon in late 2020. Rockhold was slated to face Sean Strickland at UFC 268 last November, but he had to pull out of the fight a month beforehand after suffering a herniated disc. That leaves a lot of questions to be answered coming into his showdown with Costa.
Costa won his first 13 MMA fights. He earned bonuses for his victories over Romero and the recently-retired Uriah Hall, leading to a title shot against Israel Adesanya at UFC 253. However, Costa suffered a knockout in the second round against 'The Last Stylebender', and that led to his decision to move up to light heavyweight. Unfortunately, he lost his light heavyweight debut against Marvin Vettori by unanimous decision.
Although Costa has lost his past two fights, it’s hard to go with Rockhold here considering his long absence from the Octagon. Rockhold will turn 38 in two months and might not have much left in the tank.
To Win Fight: Paulo Costa (-334)
Total Rounds: Over 1.5 (-125)
Jose Aldo vs. Merab Dvalishvili Picks
The great Jose Aldo is hoping to make at least one more title challenge before stepping away from the fighting world. Aldo is the best featherweight in the history of MMA, as he was the initial UFC Featherweight Champion after the UFC absorbed WEC. He successfully defended that belt seven times before being knocked out by Conor McGregor in the first round at UFC 194, holding the title for more than five years.
Aldo was able to reclaim the belt with a win over Frankie Edgar at UFC 200, but he lost the title to Max Holloway the next summer and fell in the rematch six months later. A subsequent loss to Alexander Volkanovski motivated Aldo to make the move to bantamweight where he lost to Marlon Moraes and UFC Bantamweight Champion Petr Yan before finding his footing in the division. Aldo has since won unanimous decision victories over Marlon Vera, Pedro Munhoz, and Rob Font.
This is the biggest fight so far for Dvalishvili. He lost his first two UFC bouts, but he has gone on to win seven straight fights coming into Saturday night. Dvalishvili hasn’t showcased a lot of overwhelming power with six of those seven wins coming by unanimous decision, yet he did knock out Moraes last September.
Dvalishvili showcased a lot of heart in his win over Moraes. He was nearly knocked out in the first round, but he roared back and took it to Moraes until he scored the finish. Dvalishvili proved that he has a lot of stamina, and that will give him the edge over Aldo.
To Win Fight: Merab Dvalishvili (-125)
Total Rounds: Over 2.5 (-225)
Wu Yanan vs. Lucie Pudilova Picks
Although Wu has lost three straight fights, she is worth backing against Pudilova. Wu has solid power as 11 of her 12 wins have been finishes in her professional MMA career. Meanwhile, Pudilova hasn’t finished an opponent in almost six years, as her last seven victories have come by decision.
The formula for Wu is simple. She wins fights where she can overpower her opponent and loses fights that go the distance. Look for Wu to press the action throughout this fight, making ‘Under 2.5 Rounds’ an extremely intriguing option.
To Win Fight: Wu Yanan (+110)
Total Rounds: Under 2.5 (+275)
Marcin Tybura vs. Alexandr Romanov Picks
Heavyweights Tybura and Romanov will face off in the final fight of the preliminary card. Romanov is a heavy favorite over the veteran Tybura, as he is 16-0 with 15 finishes in his MMA career. Tybura is the toughest opponent that Romanov has faced to date though, and he has become a gatekeeper in this weight class.
It is tempting to go with Tybura as a big underdog since he has won five of his last six fights. However, he does not have the size advantage, and Romanov has shown significant power. That will allow him to get a quick finish, proving that he is someone to fear in the heavyweight division.
To Win Fight: Alexandr Romanov (-400)
Total Rounds: Under 1.5 (+120)
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