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Predicting every main card fight of UFC 296: Edwards vs. Covington

We give you our picks and predictions for the UFC 296 main card.

UFC 286: Nelson v Barberena Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

UFC 296 takes place this Saturday, December 16 live from the T-Mobile Arena. The early prelims get going at 6 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass followed by the prelims at 8 p.m. on ESPN2/ESPN+. To close out the show, main card coverage begins at 10 p.m. on ESPN+ PPV.

The action-packed main card includes a pair of title fights. In the co-main event, UFC flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja defends his belt against Brandon Royval. The main event features a blockbuster matchup of Leon Edwards and Colby Covington, clashing for the UFC welterweight title.

Below we make some picks and predictions for the four-fight main card.

UFC 296 predictions

Leon Edwards vs. Colby Covington

Edwards comes in with a superior reach and southpaw tendencies that make it difficult for his opponents to adjust to. However, if there were any fighter who could somehow find a way it’d be Covington. While Covington brings a never-quit attitude, I like Edwards to continue his dominance over the welterweight division. Too crafty and can land punches in bunches.

Prediction: Edwards UD

Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Royval

Who doesn’t enjoy a sequel? The last time these two met, Pantoja won by second-round submission. But a lot has changed and now a title is on the line. Royval has transformed into a new fighter since the loss and this one is likely to be a candidate for Fight of the Night. If Royval can counter Pantoja’s takedowns, I like the striker's chances. Expect Royval to avenge his loss and win by knockout.

Prediction: Royval by KO

Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Stephen Thompson

In his short UFC tenure, Rakhmonov has had five fights and five spectacular finishes, look for this streak to continue. Thompson, at 40 is coming off a nice 4th-round finish of Kevin Holland, but this won’t be close. While on paper Thompson is no slouch, I just think Rakhmonov is so methodical and on a whole different level.

Prediction: Rakhmonov by KO

Tony Ferguson vs. Paddy Pimblett

Who would’ve thought a UFC main card in 2023 could feature Tony Ferguson and Colby Covington?! “El Cucuy” has been pretty bad of late, losing his last six. Pimblett is the complete opposite, winning his last six. Ferguson has dropped his last two by sub, while Pimblett has won 9 of 20 by that method. Kudos to a great career, but I like Pimblett to win by you guessed it, submission.

Prediction: Pimblett by Submission