Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman says he expects a different fight but a similar outcome when he takes on rival Leon Edwards on Saturday in the main event of UFC 278. Usman's sixth title defense caps the main UFC 278 fight card (10 p.m. ET) from Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City. Usman and the second-ranked Edwards met nearly seven years ago while both were UFC newcomers and Usman won the three-round fight by unanimous decision. He relied heavily on wrestling in the first matchup but has since added a lethal stand-up game to his arsenal. Edwards is similarly a slick wrestler and grappler who has shown measured improvement on the feet in recent fights. But Usman is predicting a dominant finish in the rematch Saturday.
Caesars Sportsbook lists Usman as the -360 favorite (risk $360 to win $100), while Edwards is a +300 underdog in the latest Usman vs. Edwards odds. In the co-main event, middleweight contenders take the spotlight when No. 6-ranked Paulo Costa (-280 in the UFC 278 odds) faces former champion Luke Rockhold (+240), who returns to the cage following a three-year absence. Before settling any UFC 278: Usman vs. Edwards 2 picks, make sure you see the MMA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine expert Andrew Gombas.
Gombas is a former NCAA wrestler who taps into his experience on the mat to help understand and dissect the X's and O's of MMA matchups in a manner that sets him apart from other MMA analysts. He started the MMA handicapping service MMA Knockout Bets in 2018 and has shown a profit every year since.
With more than 1,400 selections tracked by the third-party monitoring service Bet MMA, he has shown a 6 percent return on investment for his followers. Over the past two years, his followers have netted a profit of more than $10,000.
At UFC 275 in June, Gombas swept his main-card picks and the 5-0 mark included telling SportsLine members to back Jake Matthews (+125) against Andre Fialho (-145) in a matchup of welterweight prospects. Matthews dominated and scored a second-round stoppage to give Gombas' backers another easy winner. Anyone who has followed Gombas already has seen massive returns.
Now, with UFC 278: Usman vs. Edwards in sight, Gombas has studied the UFC 278 card from every angle and released his top MMA picks. You can only see Gombas' UFC 278 picks at SportsLine.
UFC 278: Usman vs. Edwards preview
Usman (20-1) has never lost a fight in the UFC, and his first matchup with Edwards marked his official debut with the promotion after he won a roster spot on the promotion's recruiting program, "The Ultimate Fighter." The victory ignited his journey towards becoming a dominant champion and while his fighting style evolved, so did perceptions of him among MMA observers.
The Nigeria-born fighter relied on his athleticism and wrestling early in his career to engineer solid but unspectacular victories that rarely resonated with fans. In fact, eight of his first nine UFC wins came by decision.
But Usman, 35, has added a devastating striking game to his repertoire and two of his last three wins have been highlight-reel knockouts of contenders Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal. Even UFC president Dana White, who was once outwardly critical of Usman's conservative approach, recently told the media that Usman deserves to be considered among the promotion's greatest champions.
Edwards (19-3-1) has a similar wrestling base and explosive movements that have led to six of his past seven wins coming by decision. But the 30-year-old British fighter also has an 8-second knockout on his resume, which came against Seth Baczynski in April 2015. You can only see who to back at UFC 278 at SportsLine.
UFC 278 predictions
One of the UFC 278 picks from Gombas: He is backing Merab Dvalishvili (-130) to get past Jose Aldo (+110) in a matchup of ranked bantamweight contenders on the main card.
The No. 3-ranked Aldo (31-7) is an 11-year UFC veteran and decorated former champion who can perhaps lock up another title shot should he secure his fourth consecutive victory. The 35-year-old sinister Brazilian striker lost to Petry Yan for the vacant title in July 2020 but has since reeled off wins against ranked contenders in Marlon Vera, Pedro Munhoz and Rob Font.
Dvalishvili (14-4) is a speed wrestler and grappler who gives opponents fits with his nonstop pressure. The 31-year-old Georgian fighter lost his first two UFC fights but has since won seven straight and secured his first UFC stoppage win with a technical knockout of Marlon Moraes last September.
"Dvalishvili weaponizes pace and cardio. He is relentless with takedowns and will likely look to press Aldo against the cage. Aldo is the better striker and traditionally has great takedown defense. I believe Aldo will always be live for a knockout, but the more likely outcome is Dvalishvili grinding him out," Gombas told SportsLine. See who else to pick right here.
How to make UFC 278 picks
Gombas also has strong picks for UFC 278: Usman vs. Edwards and other fights on the UFC 278 card. He's picking a fighter who has "great boxing skills and serious power" to emerge with a dominant victory. Those UFC 278 picks are only available at SportsLine.
Who wins UFC 278: Usman vs. Edwards 2? And which fighter is a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed top picks on UFC 278, all from the insider who's up more than $10,000 on MMA picks the past two years, and find out.
UFC 278 odds, fight card
Kamaru Usman (-360) vs. Leon Edwards (+300)
Paulo Costa (-280) vs. Luke Rockhold (+240)
Merab Dvalishvili (-130) vs. Jose Aldo (+110)
Alexander Romanov (-400) vs. Marcin Tybura (+320)
Tyson Pedro (-800) vs. Harry Hunsucker (+550)
Jared Gordon (-320) vs. Leonardo Santos (+260)
Lucie Pudilova (-145) vs. Yanan Wu (+125)
Sean Woodson (-340) vs. Luis Saldana (+280)
Miranda Maverick (-475) vs. Shanna Young (+380)
A.J. Fletcher (-160) vs. Ange Loosa (+140)
Amir Albazi (-380) vs. Francisco Figueiredo (+310)
Aori Qileng (-155) vs. Jay Perrin (+135)
Victor Altamirano (-200) vs. Daniel Da Silva (+175)