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UFC 278 Odds, Picks & Model Predictions: Betting Analysis & Previews for Each of Saturday’s 12 Fights

UFC 278 Odds, Picks & Model Predictions: Betting Analysis & Previews for Each of Saturday’s 12 Fights article feature image
Credit:

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards

The UFC returns to Salt Lake City with a 12-fight card on Saturday for UFC 278, highlighted by a title fight in the welterweight division between pound-for-pound king Kamaru Usman and Englishman Leon Edwards.

The preliminary card begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass and ESPN+ before moving to ABC and ESPN at 8 p.m. ET. The five-fight PPV main card will commence at 10 p.m. ET via ESPN+.

After examining all betting options, a typical UFC card can offer a substantial amount of actionable value.

So, in addition to moneylines and over/unders, I’ll break down how I plan to bet every fight on the card, including exact winning methods, winning round props, and whether or not the match will go to a decision or finish inside the distance.

Fight times are approximate and subject to change. All times ET.

Click on a fight to skip ahead
12. Daniel Lacerda vs. Victor Altamirano
6:30 p.m. ET
11. Aori Qileng vs. Jay Perrin
7 p.m. ET
10. Francisco Figueiredo vs. Amir Albazi
7:30 p.m. ET
9. A.J. Fletcher vs. Ange Loosa
8 p.m. ET
8. Sean Woodson vs. Luis Saldana
8:30 p.m. ET
7. Leonardo Santos vs. Jared Gordon
9 p.m. ET
6. Marcin Tybura vs. Alexander Romanov
9:30 p.m. ET
5. Tyson Pedro vs. Harry Hunsucker
10 p.m. ET
4. Wu Yanan vs. Lucie Pudilova
10:30 p.m. ET
3. Jose Aldo vs. Merab Dvalishvili
11 p.m. ET
2. Paulo Costa vs. Luke Rockhold
11:30 p.m. ET
1. Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards
Midnight ET

UFC 278 Projected Odds

Below, you can find my fair odds moneyline projection for Saturday’s 12 bouts. In the next section, you’ll discover forecasts for those fights to finish inside the distance or for each fighter to win by decision, knockout, or submission.

Odds as of Saturday morning and via DraftKings.

UFC 278 Prop Projections

In addition to creating a crowdsourced projection for moneyline plays, I also collect data on each fighter to win by decision, knockout, or submission, enabling us to determine fair odds for each fight to go the distance or for each fighter to win inside of the distance.

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UFC 278 Odds

Daniel Lacerda vs. Victor Altamirano

Flyweight Bout Odds
Daniel Lacerda Odds +145
Victor Altamirano Odds -170
Over/under rounds 2.5 (+145 / -180)

Crowdsourced Projections: Victor Altamirano (62.3%)

Rarely do you see a flyweight bout listed at -240 (70.6%) to end inside the distance, compared to the 43% finish rate for the 125-pound division.

Lacerda (also listed under Daniel da Silva) has never seen the third round in 14-career fights. He’s been to the second round on only two occasions, including a loss to Jeff Molina in his UFC debut.

The Brazilian doesn’t necessarily have lousy cardio; he just doesn’t manage his stamina well. Lacerda is a dynamic fighter who throws creative – though often inefficient – techniques. And if his opponents can weather the early storm, the momentum should eventually tilt their way.

Altamirano’s takedown defense is subpar, and I expect him to get placed in some dangerous positions early. Still, his defensive jiu-jitsu is far superior to his wrestling – so I expect him to survive on the mat – and he should land more consistent volume and damage in extended striking exchanges.

If you can stomach the early sweat, Altimirano’s moneyline, which has moved down since open, could be worth a bet if it falls closer to -150. And he’s certainly worth betting live after a competitive Round 1.

As far as the total and the winning method props, I couldn’t line this flyweight bout lower than 41% (+146) to reach a decision and would consider betting the distance prop (+200 at FanDuel) or Altamirano by decision (projected +221, listed +430 at FanDuel) at juicy prices.

The Over 1.5 rounds (-140) is enticing too, and I’ll combine that in an SGP with Altamirano’s moneyline.

Lacerda fights at a kill-or-be-killed pace, but these are still flyweights, and both the Under – and Altamirano’s decision prop – have moved too far. Still, we can find a more creative way to play that opinion without sweating one fighter’s cardio for the second half of the fight.

Bets

  • SGP (+195, 0.5 units at DraftKings): Victor Altamirano and Over 1.5 Rounds
  • Victor Altamirano Live after Rounnd 1

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Aori Qileng vs. Jay Perrin

Bantamweight Bout Odds
Aori Qileng Odds -135
Jay Perrin Odds +115
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-205 / +165)

Crowdsourced Projections: Aori Qileng (56.3%)

Perrin competed far better than his +310 price tag would suggest in his short-notice debut loss against a talented Mario Bautista. He seems more well-rounded than the favored Aoriqileng, who has more natural power and a two-inch reach advantage.

Perrin may be able to wrestle his way to victory against “The Mongolian Murderer.” And I expect him to have success in the clinch.

He should be the superior technician on the feet, too – though Aoriqileng could swing judging optics with power, damage, and output.

As a result, I expect to see a close fight. But if Aoriqileng is having enough success to win minutes, I expect him to find the finish. The KO/TKO prop (projected +344, listed +390 at FanDuel) for Aoriqileng isn’t a bad look.

Conversely, I give more decision equity to the Perrin side and would consider betting the American to win on the scorecards (projected +227, listed +270 at FanDuel).

Bets

  • Jay Perrin wins by Decision (+270, 0.25u at FanDuel)

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Francisco Figueiredo vs. Amir Albazi

Flyweight Bout Odds
Francisco Figueiredo Odds +370
Amir Albazi Odds -460
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-145 / +115)

Crowdsourced Projections: Amir Albazi (82.6%)

Albazi is the second most-favored fighter on the card and a serious prospect in the flyweight division.

And he should have a significant cardio advantage over Figueiredo, who typically has his best success early in his fights.

Albazi is likely the superior fighter everywhere in this matchup, though the cardio and output advantages may be the most pronounced discrepancy. And Albazi would be a tremendous live bet if his line moves in after a close Round 1.

It’s difficult to envision a path to victory for Figueiredo outside of a random knockout or wrapping up a submission in a scramble, and Albazi’s steep moneyline price may be justifiable.

Albazi by submission (projected +304, listed +420 at FanDuel) or Inside the Distance (projected +142, listed +150 at BetMGM) are the two value propositions for this bout compared to my projected numbers, and either or both bets could be worth a poke.

Bets

  • Amir Albazi wins Inside the Distance (+150, 0.33u at MGM)
  • Amir Albazi Live after Round 1


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A.J. Fletcher vs. Ange Loosa

Welterweight Bout Odds
A.J. Fletcher Odds -150
Ange Loosa Odds +130
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-180 / +145)

Crowdsourced Projections: A.J. Fletcher (57.7%)

Both Fletcher and Loosa are relatively unknown commodities at the UFC level.

Fletcher appears the far more aggressive fighter, while Loosa is a more patient and calculated striker. Fletcher doesn’t manage his attributes well – and can gas himself out in extended fights – where Loosa will be the fresher man late.

Fletcher has more upside as a prospect, yet his game is still a bit raw. At present, this should be a close and competitive matchup, potentially decided on the narrowest of margins.

Both fighters appear relatively durable, and the odds for this fight to reach a decision (projected -150, listed -135 at FanDuel) seem short.

Bets

  • Fight goes to Decision (-136, Risk 0.5u at FanDuel)

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Sean Woodson vs. Luis Saldana

Featherweight Bout Odds
Sean Woodson Odds -360
Luis Saldana Odds +295
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-135 / +130)

Crowdsourced Projections: Sean Woodson (78.7%)

Woodson is a sharp boxer who will have significant advantages in height (3 inches taller), reach (five inches), and cardio against Saldana.

While he struggles against grapplers, Woodson shouldn’t have too much issue picking apart a much smaller boxer on the feet. And Saldana’s success – and output – should diminish substantially after the opening five minutes. Saldana slows in low-paced affairs and could crumble under Woodson’s pressure and pace (12.9 significant strike attempts per minute).

The body work added up for Sean Woodson to get the finish at #UFCVegas42 💪 pic.twitter.com/VUjGnIqzUi

— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) November 13, 2021

I’d imagine Saldana will look to grapple Woodson after landing a pair of takedowns in his most recent win. Still, wrestling will only serve to tire him out for the late stages of this fight, where Woodson will step on the gas and pour on the volume.

You can look to bet Woodson live after a relatively competitive Round 1. And you can consider using his moneyline as a parlay piece (projected -370)

Pre-fight, you should bet Woodson to win inside the distance (projected +155, listed +155 at Pointsbet) or by KO/TKO (projected +154, listed +170 at BetRivers) and take a stab at his Round 2 (+650 at BetMGM) and Round 3 (+1000 at BetMGM) props since he is more of an attritional-based finisher as opposed to a one-punch knockout artist.

Bets

  • Sean Woodson wins Inside the Distance (+155, 0.33u at Pointsbet)
  • Woodson wins in Round 2 (+650, 0.1u at MGM)
  • Woodson wins in Round 3 (+1000, 0.1u at MGM)
  • Sean Woodson Live after Round 1
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Leonardo Santos vs. Jared Gordon

Lightweight Bout Odds
Leonardo Santos Odds +220
Jared Gordon Odds -260
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-135 / +105)

Crowdsourced Projections: Jared Gordon (68%)

As a 42-year-old lightweight, Santos doesn’t have much win equity outside of Round 1, and his odds to win in the opening frame (+900 at FanDuel) or inside the distance (projected +346, listed +400 at DraftKings) are appealing.

The Brazilian is a powerful striker and a dangerous submission grappler, and it seems likely that he’ll put Gordon in dangerous spots early in this bout.

Gordon relies on his grappling, and Santos has strong takedown defense (86%), mainly when he’s fresh. He could find openings on the feet and win by early knockout or club-and-sub.

Santos is the much bigger man (3 inches taller, seven-inch reach advantage), and he could big-brother Gordon in the first round.

Gordon will need to weather the early storm and drag Santos to deep waters, where he should eventually take over minute-winning significantly.

Gordon makes for a solid live bet after Round 1 when Santos’ gas tank should be running on empty.

You could roll those Santos finish props into a Gordon live bet or wait to fire at the live line after the opening round.

Bets

  • Leo Santos wins in Round 1 (+850, 0.1u at Caesars)
  • Jared Gordon Live after Round 1

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Marcin Tybura vs. Alexander Romanov

Lightweight Bout Odds
Marcin Tybura Odds +290
Alexander Romanov Odds -350
Over/under rounds 1.5 (-195 / +160)

Crowdsourced Projections: Alexander Romanov (68.2%)

Tybura is my favorite underdog play on Saturday’s card.

The Polish heavyweight is the taller, longer, and heavier fighter with apparent advantages in striking and cardio. Moreover, he’s faced a far more difficult slate of opponents than Romanov to this point in their respective careers.

Romanov relies on his grappling – and top game. Still, I’m uncertain that he’s the better grappler than Tybura. While Romanov may get takedowns early in this fight, Tybura is skilled at staying safe and working up off his back.

To justify his steep price tag, one would assume that Romanov needs to run through Tybura on the mat; I don’t see that happening in this fight.

And if Tybura can extend the fight and get Romanov to deep waters, he should take over the second and third rounds at a high clip.

HEAVYWEIGHT HEADKICK! 😱

One of the prettiest sights you'll see! @MarcinTybura #UFCNorfolk pic.twitter.com/agVf9reEVx

— UFC (@ufc) February 27, 2020

Romanov has essentially faced low-level grapplers in the UFC’s heavyweight division, while Tybura presents a far stiffer test. And the only time Romanov went deep into a fight – seeing the third round against Juan Espino – he quit after a cup check.

I expect a close and competitive affair – in a high variance division – in which Tybura has more success increasingly down the stretch.

As a result, you can live bet Tybura after Round 1, but I also love his moneyline pre-fight down to +225, in addition to his decision prop (projected +424, listed +650 at MGM).

Moreover, I show value in the fight to go to a decision (projected +133, listed +155 at Caesars). Still, I prefer to lay the juice on the Over 1.5 rounds (listed -175 at MGM), considering the potential that one or both of these heavyweights gas out completely – at high altitude – late in the fight.

Bets

  • Over 1.5 Rounds (-175, Risk 1u at BetMGM)
  • Marcin Tybura (+300, 0.5u at Caesars)
  • Marcin Tybura wins by Decision (+650, 0.1u at BetMGM)
  • Marcin Tybura Live after Round 1

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Tyson Pedro vs. Harry Hunsucker

Heavyweight Bout Odds
Tyson Pedro Odds -730
Harry Hunsucker Odds +530
Over/under rounds 1.5 (+310 / -410)

Crowdsourced Projections: Tyson Pedro (85.6%)

Pedro is the most significant favorite on Saturday’s card. And this fight is incredibly likely to end inside the distance (listed -1200 at Caesars); I can’t recall seeing a three-round fight juiced more heavily to the Under 1.5 Rounds (-350).

In 12 professional bouts, Hunsucker has never been to the second round. He offers poor durability and cardio but is willing to lose on his shield; he goes down swinging in each fight.

A former heavyweight, Hunsucker is making a move down to 205 for this matchup. And perhaps his durability improves against a lower level of power.

Still, Pedro is the bigger man (four-inch reach advantage), and he should be able to hammer Hunsucker with low kicks from the outside or grapple him with relative ease.

I don’t see value on either side of the moneyline or the total for this fight.

Regarding winning method props, Hunsucker’s win in Round 1 prop (+1400 at FanDuel) should likely be closer to his moneyline price. And Hunsucker by KO/TKO (projected +892, listed +1100 at FanDuel) technically qualifies as a value too. Still, I’m unwilling to throw the darts on Hunsucker, even for small stakes.

And I feel similarly about Pedro by decision (projected +1068, listed +1200 at Caesars); I’m not banking on Hunsucker to survive 15 minutes for the first time in his career after finally cutting weight.

Bets

  • Pass

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Wu Yanan vs. Lucie Pudilova

Women’s Bantamweight Bout Odds
Wu Yanan Odds +105
Lucie Pudilova Odds -125
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-360 / +280)

Crowdsourced Projections: Lucie Pudilova (55.1%)

Wu opened around +180 for this matchup but has trended closer to favoritism as we near fight day.

She likely has the grappling advantage over Pudilova, who is returning to the UFC after going 2-5 on her first run through the promotion.

Neither fighter is a particularly adept finisher, and I expect to see a close and competitive affair with highly narrow margins for the judges to assess rounds. As a result, a pick’em price seems appropriate.

Pudilova should win the boxing exchanges and land more damage to the head, while Wu controls range with her kicking game and mixes in takedowns.

If Pudilova can drag Wu into a brawl in the pocket, she can likely pull away on volume. However, I expect Wu to control the striking exchanges with her footwork and movement and to dictate where the fight takes place with her grappling.

I don’t project any value on this fight from a moneyline, total, or winning method perspective. The lines look right to me at current levels, and there’s no need to force a bet.

Bets

  • Pass
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Jose Aldo vs. Merab Dvalishvili

Bantamweight Bout Odds
Jose Aldo Odds +120
Merab Dvalishvili Odds -140
Over/under rounds 2.5 (-220 / +180)

Crowdsourced Projections: Merab Dvalishvili (59.6%)

Saturday’s featured bout is the most hotly debated fight of the week.

Aldo has garnered substantial support at an underdog price. The legendary “King of Rio” offers excellent takedown defense (90%), counter-wrestling, and counter-punching. Aldo has been taken down more than once in only one UFC or WEC fight (against Frankie Edgar in 2016) and seemingly has the skill set to defeat most grapplers.

He’s undoubtedly the superior striker against Dvalishvili, a relentless cardio wrestler who smothers opponents with pace and pressure.

Merab Dvalishvili vs. Marlon Moraes – UFC 266 pic.twitter.com/xztFcSq2Vr

— Neo Vale Tudo (@NeoValeTudo) August 16, 2022

Still, Dvalishvili’s wrestling is different than any other fighter on the roster. He averages 16 takedown attempts per 15 minutes – because his top control isn’t robust. He clings to his opponents, forces them against the fence, and exhausts them with repeated level changes.

And Dvalishvili lands many strikes while controlling his opponents in the clinch.

While Aldo’s takedown defense is excellent, historically, “The Machine” is an entirely different animal. He will look to turn this fight into an absolute grind for Aldo and use his cardio advantage to tire out the older fighter.

Moreover, Aldo’s grappling has seemingly declined during his bantamweight run, giving up takedowns and dominant positions to Marlon Moraes, Rob Font, and Petr Yan and getting controlled in clinch exchanges too.

And his cardio has waned with age too. I would undoubtedly favor Merab more in a five-round fight than this three-round scrap. Still, I expect him to Dvalishvili over minute-winning significantly after the first round if he can get to the clinch and wear on Aldo early.

Aldo certainly has a knockout upside. Still, winning minutes against an opponent who will attempt 200 strikes and shoot 20 takedowns over 15 minutes is difficult.

Even if Aldo has some early success defending the takedowns, they may come easier for Dvalishvili later in the fight.

Indeed, this is a step up in competition for Dvalishvili against a fighter with arguably the most difficult strength of schedule in MMA history. Still, “The Machine” presents a new test for Aldo, and I believe the Georgian is on his way to future title contention.

I would bet Dvalishvili on the moneyline up to about -150, a little past my projected number (-148). You can also consider his decision prop (projected +140, listed +140 at Caesars) at what appear to be fair odds.

And look to bet Dvalishvili Live after Round 1 if he has any attritional grappling success.

Bets

  • Merab Dvalishvili (-135, 0.5u at DraftKings)
  • Merab Dvalishvili Live after Round 1

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Paulo Costa vs. Luke Rockhold

Middleweight Bout Odds
Paulo Costa Odds -340
Luke Rockhold Odds +280
Over/under rounds 1.5 (-115 / +115)

Crowdsourced Projections: Paulo Costa (76.3%)

Former middleweight champion Rockhold is returning to the Octagon for the first time since 2019 and is winless inside the UFC since 2017.

Coming back from a long layoff – at age 38 – after a trio of knockout losses in his past four fights isn’t super encouraging. Rockhold’s chin had cracked before his layoff, and he may be a shell of his former self after taking a lengthy break from the sport.

Returning against Costa, a pressure fighter with heavy power, is undoubtedly one way to test that durability but likely a less-than-ideal matchup for Rockhold.

Rockhold is the more technical striker, but the physical attributes – aside from Rockhold’s five-inch reach advantage – point toward Costa if this fight stays standing.

However, Rockhold will have a significant edge if this fight hits the mat, and he should try to grapple Costa from the outset. While the Brazilian offers strong first-level takedown defense (80%), he’s a bit of a fish once you put his shoulders flat on the ground. And Rockhold may only need one takedown to finish this fight from top position.

Conversely, Costa can win this fight on the first striking exchange if Rockhold can no longer take a punch.

Since either man can exploit their opponent’s primary weakness, I like the fight to end inside the distance (projected -528, listed -310 at Caesars). Instead, I took the significant discount with the Under 2.5 Rounds (-215 at DraftKings).

Moreover, you can bet Costa to win by KO/TKO (projected -185, listed -150 at DraftKings) or Rockhold either by submission projected +953, listed +1000 at DraftKings) or inside the distance (projected +549, listed +600 at Bet365).

Rockhold may win minutes in this fight until the moment he gets knocked out, and I wouldn’t lay the juice on Costa’s moneyline; the Under or Costa’s knockout prop seem like a far better alternative if Costa justifies his pricetag.

Bets

  • Under 2.5 Rounds (-215, 0.5u at DraftKings)

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Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards

Welterweight Bout Odds
Kamaru Usman Odds -330
Leon Edwards Odds +275
Over/under rounds 4.5 (-160 / +135)

Crowdsourced Projections: Kamaru Usman (73.8%)

For additional information on Saturday’s main event, including a full statistical breakdown, make sure to check out my full fight preview. 

Usman closed as a -250 (71.4% implied) favorite in their 2015 encounter, securing a unanimous decision over Edwards after dropping the first round on two of the three scorecards.

The champion undoubtedly has superior power and cardio, and he possesses all of the grappling upside in this fight. And his pace (+2.02 distance strikes per minute) lends itself better toward winning minutes on the feet.

While Usman’s striking has significantly improved throughout his career, Edwards remains the more technical and diverse striker. The critical question is whether he has closed the gap relative to Usman’s wrestling and grappling.

And I suspect that he has, to some degree. Edwards’ clinch game has become one of his best attributes, particularly his elbows on the break as he exits.

Edwards has become a dominant clinch fighter, which should serve him well in this rematch. While Usman can generate takedowns in open space, he does his best work in the clinch after pushing opponents up against the cage. And if Edwards can deny or reverse those positions, this fight will be competitive.

While Usman likely wins this fight at a high clip, Edwards has some tools to make it a competitive scrap. It’s difficult to make Edwards too significant of an underdog, considering his striking advantage.

projected Edwards as a 26.2% underdog (+281)  in this fight, and I would bet his moneyline at +300 (25% implied) or better.

I projected the bout to go the distance 60% of the time (-150 implied) and show slight value on the goes-to-decision prop depending upon the book (-144 at FanDuel). Still, if anything, I would lean to the Under.

Regarding the winning method market, Usman by KO/TKO (projected +287, listed +280) or Edwards by decision (projected +535, listed +850) are the best options on either side.

I projected a decision as 60% of Edwards’ win condition (40% finish). However, the betting market essentially flipped those percentages. As a result, you could do worse than a small stab on Edwards by decision (+850 at FanDuel).

And if his moneyline touches +300 or higher, I’ll take a shot there too.

Bets

  • Leon Edwards wins by Decision (+850, 0.1u at BetMGM)

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Zerillo’s UFC 278 Bets

Distance or Decision Props and Overs

  • Jay Perrin wins by Decision (+270, 0.25 units at FanDuel)
  • Loosa/Fletcher, Fight goes to Decision (-136, Risk 0.5u at FanDuel)
  • Romanov/Tybura, Over 1.5 Rounds (-175, Risk 1u at MGM)
  • Marcin Tybura wins by Decision (+650, 0.1u at MGM)
  • Leon Edwards wins by Decision (+850, 0.1u at MGM)

Inside the Distance Props and Unders

  • Amir Albazi wins Inside the Distance (+150, 0.33u at MGM)
  • Sean Woodson wins Inside the Distance (+155, 0.33u at Pointsbet)
  • Woodson wins in Round 2 (+650, 0.1u at MGM)
  • Woodson wins in Round 3 (+1000, 0.1u at MGM)
  • Leo Santos wins in Round 1 (+850, 0.1u at Caesars)
  • Costa/Rockhold, Under 2.5 Rounds (-215, 0.5u at DraftKings)

Moneylines

  • Marcin Tybura (+300, 0.5u at Caesars)
  • Merab Dvalishvili (-135, 0.5u at DraftKings)

Parlays

  • SGP (+195, 0.5u at DraftKings): Victor Altamirano and Over 1.5 Rounds

Live Betting Notes

  • Victor Altamirano Live after Rounnd 1
  • Amir Albazi Live after Round 1
  • Sean Woodson Live after Round 1
  • Jared Gordon Live after Round 1
  • Martin Tybura Live after Round 1
  • Merab Dvalishvili Live after Round 1

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