UFC 278 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards: An +850 Bet for PPV Main Event (Saturday, August 20)

UFC 278 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards: An +850 Bet for PPV Main Event (Saturday, August 20) article feature image

Getty Images. Picture: UFC welterweight Leon Edwards

  • UFC welterweight champion Kamura Usman looks for his sixth straight title defense when he headlines UFC 278.
  • He meets Leon Edwards, who lost to Usman in 2015 when both fighters were young in their UFC careers.
  • Sean Zerillo makes the case for the big underdog in the title fight below.

Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards Odds

Usman Odds
Edwards Odds
4.5 (-174 / +136)
Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City
Approx. Midnight ET
ESPN+ Pay-per-view
Odds as of Friday and via FanDuel.

Kamaru Usman will look to further cement his legacy on Saturday at UFC 278 as he defends his welterweight belt for the sixth time in when he rematches Leon "Rocky" Edwards.

Usman closed as a -250 (71.4% implied) favorite in their 2015 encounter – his first official UFC bout after winning The Ultimate Fighter 21 tournament – securing a unanimous decision over Edwards after dropping the first round on two of the three scorecards.

Edwards is on a 9-0 (with one no-contest) run since that loss, though he has fought sparingly – with his only victory since July 2019 coming at UFC 263 in June as a -550 favorite against Nate Diaz.

Can the Englishman turn the tables in the rematch and set up an intriguing trilogy fight, or will Usman turn away a familiar foe for the third consecutive time?

Below, I'll provide my analysis and projections for Saturday's matchup and utilize those factors to bet on the UFC 278 main event.

Tale of the Tape

Avg. Fight Time16:4015:15
Weight (pounds)170 lbs.170 lbs.
Reach (inches)76"74"
Date of birth5/11/19878/25/1991
Sig Strikes Per Min4.662.62
SS Accuracy52%49%
SS Absorbed Per Min2.592.15
SS Defense58%55%
Take Down Avg3.001.48
TD Acc49%35%
TD Def100%70%
Submission Avg0.10.3

Usman will take advantage of the two-inch reach discrepancy while fighting behind his crisp jab, which he can use to disguise clinch or takedown entries, and set up his powerful right hand.

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:

2 minutes of Leon Edwards steadily becoming one of the best clinch fighters in the sport pic.twitter.com/wWwInMirk4

— Miguel Class (@MigClass) August 19, 2022

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.

There's also a chance that Usman has fallen in love with his hands – after a string of knockdowns and knockouts against Colby Covington, Gilbert Burns, and Jorge Masvidal – and that he never wrestles.

In that (unlikely) scenario, this fight would play out closer to a pick'em, which is why Usman would be wise to grapple from the outset.

While both fighters are seemingly durable (neither finished by strikes), both have wobbled in recent fights. Edwards famously controlled 24 of the 25 minutes against Diaz before eating a right hand down the middle and falling around the octagon for the final minute:

Usman was rocked in various moments by Burns and Covington, and I can see him getting knocked down by one of Edwards' elbows.

Usman's wrestling should prove the difference-maker in those chaotic scenarios, however. While Edwards can take down lesser wrestlers (he landed four of five takedowns against Diaz) to break their pressure, he won't have that luxury against Usman, particularly after getting hurt.

Conversely, Usman should be able to land a takedown – and recover – if he gets clipped standing.

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.

Usman vs. Edwards Pick

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

While the line climbed as high as +310 on Thursday, I missed the number. Still, I suspect the line may float as high as +350 closer to fight time as more parlay money rolls in on the champion.

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.

The Pick: Leon Edwards wins by Decision (+850, 0.1u at FanDuel) | Edwards Moneyline (wait for +300)

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