Saturday, October 1, 2022

UFC 278 predictions — Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards 2: Fight card, odds, expert picks, prelims

The welterweight championship is on the line in Salt Lake City on Saturday night when Kamaru Usman puts the belt at stake against Leon Edwards in the main event of UFC 278. Usman already holds one win over Edwards, taking a decision victory in December 2015. Nine straight wins for Edwards since the loss to Usman have led to the rematch, this time with a world title on the line.

Other big names are set for the card as well, with former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold and legendary former featherweight champ Jose Aldo both in action. Rockhold returns for the first time since July 2019 when he faces former title challenger Paulo Costa. Meanwhile, Aldo looks for his fourth consecutive victory when he takes on Merab Dvalishvili, who has his own seven-fight winning streak, in a bout that puts the winner directly into the conversation for a potential shot at the bantamweight title.

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With so much happening on Saturday night, let’s take a closer look at the full fight card with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before we get to our staff predictions and picks for the PPV portion of the festivities.

UFC 278 fight card, odds

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook

  • Kamaru Usman (c) -360 vs. Leon Edwards +280, welterweight championship
  • Paulo Costa -400 vs. Luke Rockhold +310, middleweights
  • Merab Dvalishvili -140 vs. Jose Aldo +120, bantamweights
  • Lucie Pudilova -120 vs. Wu Yanan +100, women’s bantamweights
  • Tyson Pedro -800 vs. Harry Hunsucker +550, light heavyweights

  • Alexander Romanov -380 vs. Marcin Tybura +300, heavyweights
  • Jared Gordon -270 vs. Leonardo Santos +220, lightweights
  • Sean Woodson -340 vs. Luis Saldana +270, featherweights
  • A.J. Fletcher -160 vs. Ange Loosa +135, welterweights
  • Amir Albazi -500 vs. Francisco Figueiredo +380, flyweights
  • Aori Qileng -140 vs. Jay Perrin +120, bantamweights
  • Victor Altamirano -175 vs. Daniel Da Silva +150, flyweights

With such a massive main event on tap, the crew at CBS Sports went ahead with predictions and picks for the main card. Here are your pick makers: Brent Brookhouse (Combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (Combat sports writer, co-host of “Morning Kombat”), Shakiel Mahjouri (writer), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Wise (senior editor).

UFC 278 picks, predictions

Usman (c) vs. Edwards Usman Usman Usman Usman Usman
Costa vs. Rockhold Costa Costa Costa Costa Costa
Aldo vs. Dvalishvili Dvalishvili Aldo Dvalishvili

Dvalishvili

Aldo
Pudilova vs. Wanan Wanan Pudilova Wanan Wanan Wanan
Pedro vs. Hunsucker Pedro Pedro Pedro Pedro Pedro
Records to date (2022) 19-19 22-16 20-18 21-17 27-11

Usman vs. Edwards

Wise: For some reason, this fight feels very academic. Everything that Edwards does well, Usman just does better. They have both carried very similar gameplans throughout their journeys — both relied on a grappling-heavy attack to stifle opponents from ever firing off heavy shots before adding more striking elements to their games. But Usman’s evolution and work with Trevor Wittman has brought an added element that creates more issues for Edwards on the feet. If Usman is able to punish Edwards with his jab early and make him think about punches coming in, Usman will be able to dominate this fight into a grapple fest before the final horn sounds. 

Costa vs. Rockhold

Mahjouri: Simply put, Rockhold has been gone too long to comfortably side with him. His long-range kicks, stifling top control and submission game are a winning combination. His inability to secure takedowns reliably and defensive shortcomings in tight are his most glaring weaknesses. Rockhold appears committed to tying up those loose ends, but Costa is the wrong guy to test pilot against. He is a powerful striker who can go for three or five rounds. Losses to Israel Adesanya and Marvin Vettori took the steam off Costa, but he is capable of knocking out anyone. Expect him to find the same fight-ending openings that plagued Rockhold in fights against Jan Blachowicz, Yoel Romero and Michael Bisping.

Brookhouse: Until the moment I sat down to write this blurb, I had Rockhold as my pick here. There’s something I can’t put my finger on with the fight that makes me feel the former champ may be able to spring a surprise. But Rockhold’s inactivity, age, chin and the nearly five years since he has won a fight just won’t let me pull the trigger. Costa has his flaws, but he hits hard and isn’t likely to fade in the kind of fight Rockhold is going to bring. Costa is the smart pick here and I have to go against my gut and make it based on Rockhold’s flaws and inactivity.

Aldo vs. Dvalishvili

Brookhouse: Dvalishvili is certainly a strong fighter and a top player in the bantamweight division. Aldo, however, has all the tools it takes to pull off the mild upset here. Aldo is still great at countering wrestlers and he consistently utilizes the most creative and flowing combinations on the feet. It’s going to be hard for Dvalishvili to impose his game as Aldo is firing off strikes that are flowing from information gathered and set-ups he has put in place from the opening moments of the fight. This is going to be a tough fight for both men but Aldo should be able to put in the work.

Mahjouri: Dvalishvili has one setting and it is go, go, go. He is a relentless wrestler who averages an absurd 7.30 takedowns per 15-minutes and ranks ninth all-time for takedowns. Aldo has shut down 90% of takedown attempts in 27 UFC/WEC fights. Dvalishvili was badly hurt in a fight against the heavy-hitting Marlon Moraes, but persevered and overcame his opponent. Aldo will be a tricky puzzle to solve and has the experience to outthink most. My gut says that Aldo’s takedown defense percentage will drop a few points as Dvalishvili nabs a few en route to a decision win.

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