The UFC is coming off an exciting main event last week in San Diego where Marlon “Chito” Vera landed a brutal head kick knockout on Dominick Cruz. Cruz exited on a tilted angle towards Vera’s left leg, and Vera anticipated Cruz dipping his head and timed his head kick perfectly, putting a stop to the fight in Round 4. Vera’s win helped a DraftKings Sportsbook bettor make a big profit, turning $1 into $529 by placing this two-fight parlay bet at +52800 odds:
- Marlon Vera to Win by KO/TKO/DQ in Round 4
- Gerald Meerschaert to Win by Submission in Round 3
Since Vera won in Round 4 by KO/TKO and Meerschaert won by submission in Round 3, the bettor successfully cashed his bet.
The UFC transitions to UFC 278 this Saturday in Salt Lake City. The card is headlined by a rematch between Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards for the UFC welterweight title. Usman and Edwards originally fought back in 2015, and Usman won by decision.
Usman is on a massive hot streak and is slowly getting his name thrown into the mix for greatest welterweight of all time. Usman has gone 15-0 in the UFC—including 6-0 in title fights—and with a win this weekend, Usman would tie Anderson Silva for the longest win streak in UFC history with 16 straight wins. Usman still has some ground to cover to catch Georges St-Pierre for welterweight GOAT, but his all-time great skills are undeniable.
Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards
Usman has dramatically improved his stand-up striking in recent fights, most notably in KO/TKO wins over Jorge Masvidal and Gilbert Burns. Usman’s jab was his money punch in the Burns fight, and Usman landed a crushing right hand to finish off Masvidal in one of the most devastating knockouts of 2021. Usman has won two of his last three fights by KO/TKO on the back of his improved striking.
Since Edwards primarily stands southpaw, Usman’s right hand could find the mark in this fight, as Edwards’ lead hand and lead shoulder will primarily be on the opposite side of Usman’s right hand. Usman switches stances and could also pepper Edwards with a jab from the right side. Usman’s right jab from a southpaw stance was the punch that dropped Gilbert Burns and led to the finish, and his right straight from an orthodox stance was the punch that brutally finished Jorge Masvidal.
Edwards has good defense and has never been finished in his MMA career before, but there have been some warning signs that his chin can be had. In his most recent fight against Nate Diaz, Edwards had a huge scare very late in the fight after Diaz turned Edwards’ legs into Jell-O off a 1-2 combination. Edwards appeared badly hurt, but with only one minute left in the fight, Diaz ran out of time attempting to finish Edwards. Diaz is not known as a big power puncher and instead uses heavy volume to soften opponents. Edwards was also badly hurt and dropped by an uppercut from Bryan Barberena earlier in his career.
Usman’s elite wrestling gives him the ability to dictate where this fight takes place. In his first fight against Edwards, Usman recorded a heavy six total takedowns and controlled Edwards for over two-thirds of the fight. As Usman’s striking has improved, he has backed off aggressive offensive wrestling—Usman has attempted just three total takedowns in his last three fights combined. However, the threat of Usman’s takedown could open up room to land strikes, as Edwards has to worry about level changes and protecting his legs and hips from takedowns, which can result in punches sneaking through to the head.
Usman has developed the power and skill to finish this fight with strikes, and at plus money, Usman by KO/TKO is a consideration.
2 Pick Parlay: Kamaru Usman and Paulo Costa Moneyline (-143)
Paulo Costa vs. Luke Rockhold
Rockhold was once a top fighter, but he is getting old and his chin has not held up in recent fights. Rockhold has lost three of his last four fights by KO/TKO.
Costa is a BJJ black belt, but he does not use his grappling for offense. Costa has only attempted two total takedowns in seven UFC fights, finishing one for a measly takedown rate of 0.21 per 15 minutes.
Instead, Costa is a striker. 11 of his 13 career wins are by KO/TKO, and he throws a lot of striking volume. Costa is landing nearly seven significant strikes per minute, a huge rate.
Costa’s aggressive striking style combined with Rockhold’s diminishing ability to take strikes makes him a good candidate to win by KO/TKO.
2 Pick Parlay: Kamaru Usman and Paulo Costa Moneyline (-143)
#OnThisDay in 2019, @BorrachinhaMMA & Yoel Romero left it ALL in the Octagon— UFC (@ufc) August 17, 2022
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Merab Dvalishvili vs. Jose Aldo
Dvalishvili has not traditionally been a big finisher. Seven of Dvalishvili’s nine UFC fights have gone to decision, and six of his seven UFC wins have been by decision.
The reason why Dvalishvili is prone to going the distance is in part due to his grinding style. Dvalishvili is very control-heavy, smothering opponents with takedowns and control time. Dvalishvili is averaging an incredible 7.3 takedowns per 15 minutes and has racked up 63 total takedowns, the fourth most among all active UFC fighters.
Aldo has also been prone to going the distance as he gets older. Five of Aldo’s last six fights have gone to decision, and Aldo has not finished anyone in over three years.
This has the makings of a long fight between two fighters that are very tough and have not been big finishers lately.
Pick: Over 2.5 Rounds (-210)
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All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
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