The UFC returns to Salt Lake City, after a six-year hiatus, this Saturday, Aug. 20 for UFC 278. Headlining one of the more highly-anticipated championship matchups in quite some time is one of the UFC’s biggest stars – current UFC welterweight champion of the world, Kamaru Usman. The “Nigerian Nightmare” is currently on a 19-fight win streak, and at UFC 278 he will be squaring off with the division’s No. 2 contender, Leon “Rocky” Edwards. The Jamaican-born Brit also enters Saturday’s bout in unbelievable form, posting nine wins and zero losses since the first bout between the two.
As of Friday afternoon at DraftKings Sportsbook, Usman was -345 to defeat Edwards (+285) at Vivint Arena. Below, we will highlight a few markets that may present value when betting on the fights this weekend at UFC 278.
UFC 278 lines
Here are UFC 278 lines from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Friday (3 p.m. ET).
- Kamaru Usman (-345) vs. Leon Edwards (+285)
- Paolo Costa (-360) vs Luke Rockhold (+295)
- Jose Aldo (+120) vs. Merab Dvalishvili (-140)
- Wu Yanan (+100) vs. Lucie Pudilova (-120)
- Tyson Pedro (-730) vs. Harry Hunsucker (+530)
- Marcin Tybura (+280) vs. Alexander Romanov (-340)
- Leonardo Santos (+225) vs. Jared Gordon (-265)
- Sean Woodson (-345) vs. Luis Saldana (+285)
The UFC 278 main event features two of the most well-rounded fighters in all of mixed martial arts. Usman continues to make history whenever he steps inside the octagon. By retaining his welterweight belt Saturday, he would secure his sixth title defense.
By the end of 2015, both fighters had started to gain recognition as fellow up-and-coming prospects at 170 pounds. Usman won the Ultimate Fighter 21 season and was quickly awarded a UFC contract, while Edwards also received a contract from the UFC around the same time.
Considering both fighters were pretty highly regarded as prospects in the welterweight division, the UFC was eager to make the matchup. As aforementioned, Usman was victorious via a relatively dominant unanimous decision. Below, we will break down how Usman convincingly won the first bout, in addition to the adjustments Edwards needs to make ahead of Saturday’s rematch.
Usman vs. Edwards 1 – Fight Breakdown
In the first clash between the two in 2015, Usman had a gameplan very suitable to his strengths. With Usman’s dominant wrestling ability and continuous pressure, he was easily able to implement his plan right from the get-go, as Edwards’ featured style is his striking ability. Usman was relentless, taking Edwards to the mat in all three rounds, as he was easily able to hold “top-position” and cruise to an easy decision victory.
Adjustments prior to UFC 278 rematch
Both fighters have made some substantial stylistic adjustments since their first matchup, which certainly should be considered when betting on UFC 278 this weekend. Usman, who’s primarily thought of as a wrestler, has made incredible strides with his footwork and overall striking ability.
A great majority of Usman’s opponents, including UFC fan favorite Jorge Masvidal, had very little respect for the Nigierian’s willingness to stand in the pocket and engage in striking exchanges. Masvidal and 170-pounder Gilbert Burns learned that Usman is much improved in that area, both having been knocked out by Usman in devastating fashion.
Edwards’ style is predominantly characterized as sharp kick-boxing with a tremendous ability to counter-strike. Rocky’s biggest improvement since the first fight is most definitely the improvement he’s made to his grappling. If Edwards is able to stuff some early takedown attempts from Usman, forcing them to stand and exchange strikes, we could be in for an exciting 5-round thriller.
UFC 278 prop bet markets
If you are looking to bet on UFC 278 this weekend, there are a number of different ways one can approach the betting card. If you are looking to bet on Saturday’s main event, the “Method of Victory” market would be a great approach.
Method of Victory
Usman has fought 14 times since his 2015 victory over Edwards, having won all 14. In 10 of those 14 bouts, Usman won via decision. Although the “Nigerian Nightmare” has significantly increased his striking ability, evident through his three knockouts of his last five opponents, there looks to be substantial value on the Usman side in the “Method of Victory” market. Although Edwards did get wobbled by Nate Diaz in the final minute of his last trip to the octagon, he’s had an extremely good chin for the entirety of his career, having gone to the judges’ score cards in both of his two UFC losses.
Despite the sizable improvements made to Usman’s striking game, I don’t envision him finding the finish on Saturday night (+240), and with that being said, -120 is certainly good value for Usman to win via decision.
Round Props (Costa/Rockhold)
The co-main event on Saturday’s UFC 278 card features a middleweight bout between Paolo Costa (-360) and Luke Rockhold (+295). Costa and Rockhold both have a lot of experience in the UFC already, with Rockhold having been the UFC middleweight champion from 2015 to 2016, and Costa only having recently experienced his first loss in a title bout to current middleweight superstar Israel Adesanya. Despite the previous successes of both Costa and Rockhold over the course of their careers, both have been on the other side of a brutal knockout as well, which is why Round Props could surely be a prop market worth targeting.
Despite winning 15 of his first 17 fights on his way to becoming middleweight champion, Rockhold’s recent performances have been very concerning. Rockhold has been brutally knocked out in three of his last five fights, while on the other hand, Costa has 11 knockouts over the course of his mixed martial arts career, and is considered by many to be one of the biggest knockout threats in the entire UFC. This middleweight bout looks to be a very bad matchup for Rockhold, who is already 37-years-old and has proven to have a weak chin over the last few years.
Given the favorable matchup for Costa, who many deem a “knockout artist,” the Round Props market is likely a great approach to the co-main. With Rockhold’s propensity to get finished as of late, there is most definitely value on Costa to win in Round 1 (+165), Round 2 (+350) and Round 3 (+850).
How to Watch UFC 278
- Early Prelims: 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+
- Prelims: 8 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN, ESPN+
- Main Card: 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ ($74.99)