Kamaru Usman will put his title on the line at UFC 278 this weekend in a rematch against a dangerous pretender to the welterweight throne in Leon Edwards.
(This article was originally published on 16.08.2022)
|What:||UFC 278, Kamaru Usman vs Leon Edwards|
Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City
|When:||From 23:00 Saturday, 21st August|
|How to watch:||BT Sport 1|
|Odds:||Kamaru Usman 1/4, Leon Edwards 3/1|
The level of quality on show at UFC 278 is clear from one key statistic - the event’s headline fight pits together two men who are without defeat in their last 25 fights combined.
Usman is chasing both a sixth successful defence of his title and a record-equalling 16th straight UFC victory against challenger Edwards, the man he beat on his official UFC debut back in 2015.
Nigerian-born Usman took the welterweight division crown from Tyron Woodley three years ago at UFC 235 and most recently fended off long-time rival Colby Covington for the second time in November 2021.
Having also defeated Jorge Masvidal on two occasions and Gilbert Burns in addition, the championship’s number one pound-for-pound competitor maintains an unblemished record in the UFC from 15 fights.
Since his previous loss to Usman by unanimous decision, Edwards has put together a successful rebuild, winning eight-straight contests against the likes of Vicente Luque, Donald Cerrone and Rafael Dos Anjos.
Against Belal Muhammad last February, the Briton suffered an inadvertent poke to the eye that rendered him unable to compete, leading to a 'no contest' decision, before he picked up the momentum once more in a five-round battle with Nate Diaz in May, won via unanimous decision despite a late flurry of punches from his opponent.
With both fighters having added layers to their game since that first meeting, this hotly anticipated rematch has the makings of a classic.
Kamaru Usman – 21 fights, 20 wins (9 KO), 1 loss
Leon Edwards – 23 fights, 19 wins (6 KO), 3 losses, 1 no contest
The bout takes place in Utah, at Salt Lake City’s Vivint Arena.
The Prelims are scheduled to begin at 23:00 GMT on Saturday 21st August and the main card will get underway at 03:00 GMT on the morning of Sunday 22nd August.
Kamaru Usman vs Leon Edwards
Luke Rockhold vs Paulo Costa
Jose Aldo vs Merab Dvalishvili
Marcin Tybura vs Alexandr Romanov
Tyson Pedro vs Harry Hunsucker
Leonardo Santos vs Jared Gordon
Wu Yunan vs Lucie Pudilova
Sean Woodson vs Luis Saldana
Miranda Maverick vs Shanna Young
AJ Fletcher vs Ange Loosa
Amir Albazi vs Francisco Figueiredo
Aoriqileng vs Jay Perrin
Victor Altamirano vs Daniel Da Silva
Kamaru Usman is the overwhelming favourite at 1/4 to record a second career victory over Leon Edwards, while the Briton can be backed at 3/1 to cause an upset at UFC 278.
Kamaru Usman is just one more win away from UFC greatness, with victory over Leon Edwards sealing a place in the annals alongside legendary Brazilian fighter Anderson Silva, who dominated the middleweight division for a record 2,457 days from 2006 to 2013.
Equally, such a key fight with sky-high stakes hands Edwards an opportunity to skyrocket his status in the UFC – capitalise on one mistake from the belt-holder and the title will be his.
Unfortunately for the British competitor, however, Usman seems to be going from strength to strength and his boxing – previously a potential stumbling block – has shown a marked improvement in recent outings.
He remains one of the most feared takedown artists in the division and has never been left on his back in the octagon.
Despite the odds being stacked well against him, Leon Edwards comes into UFC 278 firm in the belief that he has what it takes to topple the unconquered Usman on his big night.
Boasting a nine-fight win streak himself, 'Rocky' recently shared with media that his training intensity has left him in peak shape and condition, with past experience lending him the knowhow to perfect his skills and file down his rough edges.
On the contrary, the challenger believes the 'Nigerian Nightmare' is feeling the effects of his legendary run at the top, describing the weekend battle as 'the perfect time' to take on the champion as his body betrays signs of 'breaking down'.
Another crucial obstacle for Edwards to overcome, however, is a lack of time in the octagon compared to his rival. The Birmingham native has fought just twice since July 2019, with his scrap with Muhammad barely making the second round – meanwhile, top dog Usman has won five times in the same period, including a five-rounder against Covington late last year.