Kamaru Usman dealt with all legitimate contenders and entered the 2nd round. At UFC 278, we are waiting for a rematch with Leon Edwards, who, after losing to Usman in the 1st fight, did not lose and went on a series of 9 victories in a row.
UFC 278 Main Event: Kamaru Usman vs Leon Edwards Predictions
Kamaru Usman vs Leon Edwards (Welterweight Title Bout)
Kamaru Usman Preview
Kamaru is a 35-year-old American fighter. In 2015, he took part in the 21st season of The Ultimate Fighter, where he successfully performed, defeating Haider Hassan in the final, and signed a contract with the strongest league in the world.
Usman's debut in the UFC took place in December of the same year in a duel against Leon Edwards, whom he defeated by unanimous decision. After winning his debut, Kamaru went on a streak of 8 wins in a row and became the main contender for the title.
In March 2019, Kamaru defeated welterweight champion Tyron Woodley to become the new title holder. After that, he made 5 successful defenses: he beat Colby Covington twice, defended the title twice from Jorge Masvidal, and knocked out Gilbert Burns once.
Usman last fought in November 2021. It was a rematch with Colby Covington. Kamaru won by unanimous decision.
Kamaru Usman's Fighting Style & Skills
Kamaru is a versatile fighter. Until the first title defense, Kamaru was considered an extremely boring fighter. Рelying on impressive grappling skills, хе won primarily through control. After he moved to coach Trevor Whitman in the summer of 2020, his striking quality improved instantly.
Usman's combinations, like those of the current Justin Gaethje, are simple but very effective. In total, he has no more than 3-4 blanks for the fight, but they were more than enough to deal with Gilbert Burns and knock out Jorge Masvidal.
The main disadvantage of Kamaru is his weak defense. He allows himself to miss too much. In all title defenses, he had moments when his opponents shook him well. Closest to the finish line was Gilbert Burns, who almost knocked down the champion in the very first attack. There is a chance that in one of the next fights, Kamaru's jaw will not withstand the damage received, and he will fly into a knockout.
Leon Edwards Preview
Leon is a 30-year-old British fighter. He made his UFC debut in November 2014 against Claudio Silva, whom he lost to via split decision. He closed this defeat with two victories, but his streak was cut off by Kamaru Usman in December 2015.
After losing to Usman, Leon had 10 fights: 9 wins, and 1 fight was declared invalid. Of the 9 wins in the series, only 2 times Edwards won ahead of schedule: He strangled Albert Tumenov at the end of the 3rd round and beat Peter Sobotta with ground and pound a second before the end of the fight.
Edwards last fought in June 2021. His opponent was Nate Diaz. Leon won by unanimous decision.
Leon Edwards' Fighting Style & Skills
Leon is a versatile fighter. His game plan is based on the opponent's weaknesses. If the opponent is bad in striking technique, then Edwards skillfully works with him in the standing position, relying on calculation and a clean game plan in battles. Leon does not seek to finish the opponent and relies on the judges. In the octagon, he does exactly as much as it takes to win. He is able to confidently outscore almost any welterweight fighter in the standing position.
If the opponent struggles badly, then Leon resorts to BJJ. I will note the athlete’s good cardio. Leon can work effectively throughout the fight.
Edwards has lost twice in the UFC. This happened because of the pragmatic game plan of the British. The habit of working for the judges led to the fact that both times Edwards was rated worse than the opponent, as he underperformed in some rounds.
Usman vs Edwards Prediction
I doubt this fight will end fast. Leon Edwards is heading into the biggest fight of his career and it's unlikely that such a pragmatic fighter would take any extra risks by getting involved in trades or trying to force a fight on Kamaru Usman. Leon will work unabashedly for points, trying to poke his opponent in the standing position and earn the favor of the judges through control in the clinch.
At the same time, I do not think that Usman will aggressively destroy the contender. He finishes only those rivals who go to war with him in the octagon. So it was in the duel against Colby Covington when both athletes went head to head. So it was in the fight against Gilbert Burns, who started the fight aggressively and knocked down the champion with the very first attack. So it was in the 2nd fight with Masvidal, who tried to catch Kamara with an accurate one-punch knockout.
But Leon Edwards won't go to war. This is a different kind of fighter. He doesn't have the guts to fight Usman. He will try to mix styles and Kamaru will not mind working in such an energy-saving mode. If Edwards climbs to fight, then Kamaru will crush him with control. He will carefully work with 3-4 prepared combinations and inflict damage, earning points.
Now that we have our ideas about the main event explained, the UFC 278 Full Card Predictions continue with a quick preview of the co-main event of the evening which is not less promising.
Paulo Costa vs Luke Rockhold (Middleweight Bout)
Paulo Costa Preview
Thanks to his enormous physical strength, he can break an opponent with a hail of blows. He is very good at this: 11 out of 13 victories he got with the help of KO / TKO. Costa has a black belt in BJJ, but he has demonstrated these skills only 2 times in his career.
The fighter could have blossomed in the light-heavyweight division. At middleweight, there are serious hints of Costa's cardio problems. This is a fairly athletic fighter, and the muscles constantly require oxygen. Costa preaches an aggressive style of fighting. In addition, judging by his latest failure in the weight race, Costa is having trouble preparing for fights in the 84 kg division. But in the fight against Vettori, he looked good for 5 rounds and there were no hints of a serious cardio drawdown.
Luke Rockhold Preview
Rockhold's last fight was his light-heavyweight debut. In the new division, he was met by Jan Blachowicz. He knocked out Luke in the 2nd round. The fight took place in July 2019.
Before, Luke seemed like the perfect fighter. He demonstrated perfect striking technique, delivered almost every well-balanced punch to the target, punched biting and destructive kicks, and did not make unnecessary movements. Thanks to the footwork, Luke didn't get caught and attacked from angles. On the ground, he showed an extensive arsenal of painful techniques, and if he couldn’t catch an opponent for a submission, then he scored him in the ground and pound.
Back in 2018, it was clear that Luke had aged. He lost his footwork, causing him to slow down and stagnate and catch heavy punches from Romero and Blachowicz. To these factors, you need to add his 3-year downtime. I doubt that during this time he was at least a quarter closer to his peak form. Most likely, on the contrary, Rockhold has aged even more and his condition has become even worse. In addition, Rockhold is a dimensional fighter, but his body has lost the habit of cutting weight to 84 kg. He last fought in this division in 2018. This can seriously wear him down.
Costa vs Rockhold Prediction
I don't understand why Luke Rockhold didn't retire 3 years ago. In the last 4 fights, he flew into deaf knockouts 3 times. Paolo Costa will simply blow off the head of the former champion.
Rockhold will not be able to withstand the aggressive pressure of Costa, who will try to fill the highlights in this fight by all means. With a hail of punches, Paolo will pinch the former champion at the net and beat him there until he falls.