The UFC’s summer streak of 12 straight events comes to a close on Saturday with UFC 278, which takes place at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City. The main event features a 170-pound rematch between Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards, with the welterweight title on the line, and in the co-main event, former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold returns to the cage after a three-year absence to face one-time title challenger Paulo Costa. Add in another 11 fights, and there’s plenty of action to talk about, so let’s get to it.
As always, all odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Luke Rockhold, +295
I’ve turned a corner on the co-main event.
For much of the build up to this fight, I thought this was very straightforward: Rockhold is old and has terrible defense, and he’s fighting a younger guy who specializes in knocking people out. It’s basically the Yoel Romero fight, but different. But as the bout has neared, I’m sold that Rockhold is simply the better fighter. He can win on the feet against Costa, and if it goes to the floor, he has an enormous advantage. Add in that Costa has never actually beaten anyone all that good, and I’ve come around. Plus, with Rockhold seemingly having learned some life lessons lately, I think he’s likely to fight smarter. But don’t take my word for it, Anthony Smith — who hates Rockhold — thinks he’s going to pull off the upset. That’s enough for me, especially at these astronomical odds
Jose Aldo, +110
Full disclosure: I’m a massive Jose Aldo stan, and this prediction could be entirely colored by my love of the GOAT. But I genuinely think he should be the favorite against Merab Dvalishvili and that he’s likely to get the job done.
Dvalishvili is a damn good fighter, but he’s somewhat of a one-trick pony. He’s a very willing striker, but he’s not particularly great at it, and his defense leaves much to be desired. Marlon Moraes was tuning him up on the feet before Merab was able to get a takedown and turn the tide.
And that’s the key here: I don’t think Dvalishvili can get those takedowns. Jose Aldo put together one of the best careers in the history of MMA on the back of tremendous takedown defense and elite striking. This is basically a fight he’s had a dozen times before, and I like him to get yet another win in a career filled with them.
Kamaru Usman By KO/TKO, +240
I did a big breakdown of this fight that you can find here, so I’ll keep this shorter: I think Edwards has avenues toward success in this fight, but the problem is that Usman has far more of them. Because Edwards is not a big finisher, he will need to fight a near-perfect fight, and unfortunately, he’s been known to have big defensive lapses. Nate Diaz nearly beat him thanks to one and I think Usman is going to land the same big shots, but put in the coffin nails that Diaz couldn’t. I’m also placing a flyer on Usman By KO in Round 4 at +2000, just for giggles.
Tyson Pedro To Win By KO/TKO, -225
There’s a reason this fight is opening the pay-per-view main card, and it’s because the outcome is nearly guaranteed. Nine of Pedro’s 11 fights have ended in the first round, as have all 12 of Harry Hunsucker’s. More to the point, all five of Hunsucker’s career losses have come by KO. This seems formulaic.
Alexander Romanov By Submission, +350
Marcin Tybura has never been submitted, which is why this line is so high, but there’s a first for everything and I believe Romanov is the guy to do it. Romanov is part of that group of young(ish) rising heavyweights, and he may well be the best of them. Romanov had a solid enough wrestling career before moving to MMA, and he has the sort of big-man grappling game that defies traditional jiu-jitsu and gives people fits. Romanov is going to score takedowns, and I think get Tybura to tap for the first time.
We have a running gimmick on No Bets Barred that flyweight Unders never lose (because they don’t). In this instance you’ve got two men facing off with a combined 34 fights and only 8 combined decisions. Albazi in particular is a killer on the mat, and I think he picks up his second finish inside the UFC.
Parlay of the Week
Kamaru Usman/Leon Edwards Over 2.5 Rounds, -300
Edwards is simply not a finisher, so the only way this leg doesn’t hit is if Usman gets an early stoppage. That’s possible, but I suspect Usman is going to spend the first round or two trying to get his wrestling game going, seeing how effective it was in their first encounter. By the time Usman commits to landing power shots, this Over will have already hit.
Wu Yanan has gone to decision in four of her previous five fights. Lucie Pudilova has gone to decision in each of her previous seven fights. Both women bring a lot of energy to the cage, but neither is much of a finisher.
Alexander Romanov, -345
For all the reasons I mentioned above. I think this is Romanov’s fight to lose, the only question is how does he win. If Tybura is slicker than I think and can keep from getting submitted, perhaps Romanov ground-and-pounds him, or is forced to ride out to a decision.
Parlay these three bets together for +119 odds.
Long Shot of the Week
Leon Edwards To Win By Decision, +900
Like I said, I really don’t see Leon Edwards getting a stoppage. He’s not good at it, and Usman is very, very durable. But if he can keep the fight standing, and stay defensively sound, Edwards does have a real chance to outpoint Usman with his leg kicks and superior striking. These odds are a little long for that, so I’m taking a shot.
We had a big week last week, hitting the parlay and a +350 prop bet, and for one brief moment, I thought we were going to cash the +1200 Angela Hill by Split Decision Long Shot, but somehow the judges all got it right. Oh well. Still, that’s three in a row for the squad! Let’s keep it rolling this week.
Until next week, enjoy the fights, good luck, and gamble responsibly!
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