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UFC 278 Odds: We're backing Edwards to shock the world!

UFC 278: Its a great trio of fights in Salt Lake City
UFC 278: Its a great trio of fights in Salt Lake City

UFC278 takes places this weekend at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah and we've asked our in-house MMA maestro Ste McQuillan to preview it and pick out tips for the three of the big fights on the main card.

This Saturday see’s an abundance of British fighters in action across multiple sports, but more importantly, we’re finally getting the Welterweight bout many of us have been waiting over a year for in the UFC, between Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards. This is a fight that feels like it has been in the works since their first fight. Since then both fighters have gone on to prove their worth in the UFC and at this point when it comes to Kamaru Usman, we’re probably talking about the greatest Welterweight of all time and Leon Edwards is the man looking to dethrone him. 

Aside from the Welterweight Championship on the line in the main event, we’ve got Luke Rockhold’s comeback against Paulo Costa as the co-main event and Jose Aldo against Merab Dvalishvili just before that. I wouldn’t be using the term stacked this time up but they’re three solid fights on the main card, and I’ll be talking through all three of them along with a value pick for each fight. First up, the main event!

UFC 278 Tips

Treble - 20/1 @ BetFred

Leon Edwards to win
3/1
Odds correct as of 2022-08-19 09:55 Odds subject to change.

As I mentioned before, Kamaru Usman is now widely regarded as the greatest Welterweight of all time, taking over the spot from George St Pierre, who had nothing short of a spectacular career, but in my opinion, it’s still GSP that claims the GOAT status. If Usman can beat Leon, then I’ll happily admit he is the best to ever do it in this division. But it’s a big if! Leon Edwards is no pushover, in fact, many people believe he can win this fight, and I’m one of them.

Leon has been on a tear in the UFC pretty much since he arrived. His debut in the UFC was an unfortunate split decision loss, but he put that aside and went on to win his next two fights,  which meant his next opponent was Kamaru Usman, to whom he lost via decision. The fight was no walk in the park for the Champ though with Leon showing what he’s capable of on his feet. After his loss to Usman, Edwards went on to win 9 fights in a row in the UFC taking out Nate Diaz, Rafael Dos Anjos, Vicente Luque and Donald Cerrone to name a few. 

It’s no secret to how good Usman is, it’s hard to even say he’s looked in danger in the UFC. He’s been wobbled a few times, most notably by Gilbert Burns and I think Colby Covington hurt him more than most people are aware, but aside from that, he’s dominated. He’s the type of fighter to make other fighters look bad, he schooled Colby in the second fight, he schooled Tyron Woodley in the title fight, he put Jorge Masvidal to sleep which no one has ever done before, he just has it all. Many people see Kamaru as a boring wrestler, which these days, couldn’t be further from the truth, The Nigerian Nightmare throws BOMBS these days and has actually won three of his last five by KO/TKO but I think if he only stands up with Leon Edwards, it has the potential to end very badly for the champ. Leon has proved time and time again that he is one of the most skilled fighters in the UFC, especially on the feet. Against Nate Diaz, Leon put on a clinic, landing kick after kick, jab after jab and dominating the fight basically entirely on the feet. 

So let’s say this fight stays on the feet, which judging by both of their previous couple of fights, it should. Edwards immediately has the advantage. In their last matchup, Leon had all the success on the feet until Usman was forced to use the takedowns and secure the win, I think since their first fight, Leon is the one who has added more to his game whilst Usman has pretty much only added some decent stand up ability to his game. In my opinion, the Champ has looked vulnerable in his last few fights, getting hit a bit more since he’s trying to stand up, which was evident when he fought Burns and got tagged by a big hook, it may not have been classed as a knockdown but Usman was hurt badly and wobbled, Burns just showed him too much respect and didn’t go in for the kill, if Leon landed anything like on Usman in this bout, I’m confident he’d be able to finish it in that moment. 

I just think the odds are way too in favour of Usman for this fight. He’s currently priced as a 1/5 favourite which implies he has an 83.33% chance of winning this fight, I think that’s absurd. Edwards has been on a tear recently and his recent performance against Nate Diaz was near perfect until the last minute, where Leon got rocked. Usman may not have lost in the UFC but I don’t think anyone should be that favoured in a Championship bout, especially when their opponent is five years younger than them and on a nine fight win streak. 3/1 for Leon Edwards to win is such good value whereas I don’t think there’s any value in the win/draw/win market for Usman, so the Brit is our first pick.

Paulo Costa to win via KO/TKO/DSQ
8/13
Odds correct as of 2022-08-19 09:55 Odds subject to change.

Next up is a fight that is sure to be explosive, Paulo Costa vs Luke Rockhold. Two extremely hard hitting and incredibly talented middleweights and in my eyes a fairly close fight despite the odds favouring Costa so much. Costa to me is a top 5 middleweight, but no more than that. I don’t see him becoming the champ one day and I don’t see him as better than anyone of the current top three in the middleweight rankings. He’s huge for a middleweight but I think he relies on that too much. Israel Adesanya exposed him in their title fight and Vettori showed him some serious levels in their bout. He is too one dimensional for me, but the one thing he is incredible at is knocking people out, something Luke Rockhold has been on the unfortunate end of in the latter stages of his career.

Once upon a time, Rockhold was seen to be one of the most dangerous men on the UFC roster taking out the likes of Bisping, Machida and Weidman, all when these three were still very dangerous fighters. His performances were clean, his ground game was slick, his submissions were insanely good and his kicks were from a different planet. And then he got knocked out by Michael Bisping, one of the biggest upsets in UFC history, and from there on, he was the victim of some brutal knockouts. He says he’s back to his best and lacked all motivation in the UFC after his loss to Bisping and if he’s serious and back to his best, he’d probably be the favourite going into this fight, but we hear it all the time: “I’m back, I’m better than ever”, when most of the time, they’re not. And in this case, from what we’ve seen from Rockhold, I don’t think this is going to end well for him.

Rockhold is coming in as a 37 year old and hasn’t fought since July 2019, when he was knocked out by Jan Blachowicz which was one of the most vicious knockouts we’ve seen in the UFC. I don’t see how he expects to beat Paulo Costa after that long a break and after being knocked out twice in a row. Like I said, I think Costa is a bit one dimensional and reliant on his knockout power, but with all five of Rockhold’s losses coming by knockout, this is basically a nightmare matchup for him. The reason I said this was a closer fight than the odds suggest is because there’s a chance that Rockhold is back to his old self, I highly doubt it, which is why I think Costa to win via KO/TKO at 8/13 is a great bet. It might be short but I just don’t see a world in which Rockhold is back to his best after that long off. Costa is also much younger and fresher than his opponent and has a 85% knockout ratio. It simply is just a terrible matchup for Rockhold, Costa will land at some point, and with Rockhold’s suspect chin and Paulo’s power, it could actually be over very quickly.

UFC Odds

Jose Aldo to win via decision
13/5
Odds correct as of 2022-08-19 10:00 Odds subject to change.

Last up we’ve got a Bantamweight matchup between Aldo and Dvalishvili, probably the most 50/50 fight on the whole card. Jose Aldo has seen a resurgence in his career in his last three fights, after his brutal loss to Conor McGregor saw his MMA career go on a completely downward spiral. Like the true professional he is, he has bounced back and won his last three against some fairly game opponents in Marlon Vera, Pedro Munhoz and Rob Font and to be honest, he’s looked completely comfortable in all of these fights. I wouldn’t say he’s back to his best as I think his golden years are behind him, but he is looking solid and will be a tough test for the rising Merab Dvalishvili. 

 

The Georgian is currently on a seven fight win streak in the UFC and has looked as game as ever, which was seen in his last fight against Marlon Moraes. The ref could have very easily stopped his last fight in favour of Moraes but with some good officiating the referee let it go on and Dvalishvili pulled out one of the comebacks of the year, managing to stop Moraes the round after. After getting rocked and recovering the fight was completely different, Merab was all over Moraes, but to me it wasn’t the most impressive performance. Marlon Moraes has looked out of sorts for a few years now and I think nearly losing to him is a pretty worrying sign. If Merab can’t win the exchanges against a fighter like Moraes, he’s gonna have a serious problem with the striking from Jose Aldo. 

 

One thing I can give everyone some reassurance on is this fight going the distance. This three round fight features two fighters that love spending time in the Octagon. 71% of Dvalishvili’s wins have come via decision and Jose Aldo himself has been there 15 times, most of them coming in recent years with five of his last six going the distance. I’m fairly confident on these two fighters going through all three rounds and with this fight being such a coin toss, I think the smart play is to back the underdog who is Jose Aldo to win via decision at 5/2. I’d actually back Jose Aldo regardless of the odds so it’s nice to see you can squeeze a bit of value out of him. I think his standup is going to be a serious problem for the Georgian and with Aldo’s impressive takedown defence, I don’t see this going to the ground. Expect a bit of a war for three rounds with Jose Aldo dictating most of the pace! And that finishes our three tips for the three biggest fights on the card, all we can do now is hope for a clean sweep!

UFC 278 Treble
20/1
Odds correct as of 2022-08-19 10:00 Odds subject to change.
Boxing Odds
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