Ahead of UFC 278, we take a look at the odds, and predictions for the main card

The UFC welterweight division is shaping into one of the most exciting division in the UFC. With the emergence of young prospects like Shavkat Rakhmonov, Sean Brady, and Khamzat Chimaev, the future of the division seems to be in good hands. Nigerian mixed martial artist Kamaru Usman reigns supreme on top of the welterweight pile with five title defenses. He is etching his way into the history books and is already a prominent figure on the ‘GOAT’ list according to UFC president Dana White. In quest for his sixth title defense, Usman faces former rival Leon Edwards at UFC 278, what many consider his biggest test so far.

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UFC 278 predictions: Kamaru Usman vs Leon Edwards fight preview 2

Kamaru Usman vs Leon Edwards

A former NCAA Division II National Champion, three-time NCAA DII All-American and an NAIA National qualifier, Kamaru Usman is the No.1 UFC men’s pound-for-pound fighter. In 2011, the Nigerian served as the wrestling coach for Team Miller in The Ultimate Fighter season fourteen. When he failed to qualify for the 2012 US Olympic Team Trials in freestyle wrestling, Usman made his professional MMA debut in November 2012 instead. He compiled a record of 5–1, competing for several regional promotions before trying out for The Ultimate Fighter in early 2015.

Usman was one of the fighters selected for The Ultimate Fighter season 21. He coasted his way to the finals and faced Hayder Hassan on July 12, 2015 in the finals. He won the bout via submission in the second round, thus winning a six-figure contract with the UFC. He was also awarded the Performance of the Night award.

Interestingly, Usman made his debut against future contender and UFC 278 opponent Leon Edwards. He won the fight by unanimous decision. Riding on a nine-fight winning streak, Usman next faced UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley on March 2, 2019, in the co-main event at UFC 235. He won the lopsided contest via unanimous decision after dominating Woodley for five rounds.

Since then, he has defended his belt against Colby Covington twice, Jorge Masvidal twice, and Gilbert Burns once.

His opponent Leon Edwards is a former BAMMA Welterweight Champion. Currently he is ranked second in the UFC welterweight division.

Edwards began his professional fighting career in 2010, making his debut as an amateur at Bushido Challenge 2. Edwards fought Carl Booth, winning via Armbar submission in round two. Edwards then signed a contract with Fight UK MMA. He debuted for the promotion against Damian Zlotnicki, winning via technical knockout in the first round. He had two more fights for the promotion, winning against Pawel Zwiefka and losing against Delroy McDowell via DQ by way of an illegal knee.

Edwards made his UFC debut against Cláudio Silva on 8 November 2014 at UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Saint Preux. He lost the fight via split decision. Since his loss against Usman, Edwards has been on a nine fight win streak inside, with only one no contest on his record in the process.

Our Prediction– Both Usman and Edwards are completely different fighters from the last time they faced each other. Usman has his wrestling foundation that he relies on, but lately his striking has improved drastically. Edwards on the other hand has improved his grappling, and refined his striking skills with a more complete approach. One thing missing from ‘Rocky’s’ arsenal is his ability to finish fights, and Usman has the clear advantage in that department. The Nigerian also has a reliable gas tank, durable chin, and incredible will to break down his opponents.

We believe that Usman will win the fight with a decision, or a late finish in the fourth or fifth round.

Odds -Kamaru Usman (c) -380 vs. Leon Edwards +300, welterweight championship

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Luke Rockhold vs Paulo Costa

The card also marks the return of former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold who hasn’t fought since his devastating loss to Jan Blachowicz. Paulo Costa on the other hand has been on a downward spiral ever since he fought Israel Adesanya for the title. He has had trouble with making weight, and finding his groove in a fight.

However both fighters seem to be in incredible shape and are expected to leave their past setbacks behind. There will come a stage in this fight when sheer determination and sturdiness will count for either of these fighters.

Our Prediction– Luke Rockhold will have initial success with his strategy and experience, however Costa might bounce back and put Rockhold away in the third round.

Odds – Paulo Costa -330 vs. Luke Rockhold +260, middleweights

Other Odds

Merab Dvalishvili -125 vs. Jose Aldo +105

Alexander Romanov -450 vs. Marcin Tybura +350
Tyson Pedro -800 vs. Harry Hunsucker +550
Jared Gordon -300 vs. Leonardo Santos +240
Lucie Pudilova -150 vs. Wu Yanan +125,
Sean Woodson -340 vs. Luis Saldana +270
Miranda Maverick -550 vs. Shanna Young +400
A.J. Fletcher -160 vs. Ange Loosa +135
Amir Albazi -410 vs. Francisco Figueiredo +320
Aori Qileng -165 vs. Jay Perrin +140
Victor Altamirano -190 vs. Daniel Lacerda +160

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