UFC 278: Usman vs. Edwards 2

I’m excited for the weekend. The fight card this weekend has a few treats for UFC fans. Although Usman and Edwards have fought before, it was not on the big stage or for the Welterweight belt. Since the first meeting, Usman has been on a tear! Becoming champion and beating some of the best in the division. He’s beaten a couple of them twice! And Edwards? He was on an 8-fight win streak before a bout with Belal Muhammad ended in a No Contest due to an eye poke. However, he did follow the NC up with a win against Nate Diaz. Though I believe the 8-fight win streak is impressive, some do not agree and cite the last two fight performances as evidence of that should not be here. That may be why I like this fight. But that is not all that is going on today. Let’s start from the beginning of the schedule and work our way back to the main event.

Early Preliminary Card (ESPN+, 6:30 PM ET)

Flyweight Bout: Daniel Da Silva vs Victor Altamirano

Because I’m unfamiliar with these two fighters, I went searching for tape to learn about Daniel Da Silva and Victor Altamirano. Unfortunately, most of the videos available are predictions for this upcoming fight. It was difficult to come across highlights of their previous fights. But based on what I was able to come across, I’ll agree with the oddsmakers and predict Altamirano will come out with the victory today. I predict that he’ll get a finish by KO/TKO. He seems to have a decent striking game. I don’t believe Da Silva’s striking defense is at the level it needs to be for this matchup.

RESULT: Altamirano wins via TKO

Bantamweight Bout: Aoriqileng vs Jay Perrin

These two fighters are also new to me. But that doesn’t stop me from being excited about it. Aoriqileng seems ready to leave it in the ring. He utilizes all his weapons from flying knees to calculated body strikes. He also will accept the challenge of exchanging with his opponent.

Jay Perrin appears to be a very technical fighter. Not spectacular with his striking but pretty good. Seems to be good at setting up the take down and has a decent ground game. From what I’ve seen, I feel Perrin can match or approach the striking ability of Aoriqileng and may have an advantage on the ground (didn’t see much ground game from Aoriqileng). I’m going against the oddsmakers and predicting a close win for Perrin. I know I’m not supposed to do this, but I’ll give two predictions. The win will be by submission or, if not, by decision.

RESULT: Aoriqileng wins via Unanimous Decision

Flyweight Bout: Amir Albazi vs Francisco Figueiredo

Now, Amir “The Iraqi Prince” Albazi looks exciting! A complete fighter for the most part. I’d say his striking could improve but it’s already good enough. I just see that as the weakest part of his game because his takedowns and ground game look top notch for a guy on the way up. When it comes to his striking, it seems he is good at catching the rhythm of his opponents which allows him to get good counter punches or offbeat connections.

Francisco Figueiredo’s ground game seems highly skilled. And that would make sense since he’s the younger brother of two-time and current flyweight champion, Deiveson Figueiredo. He looks like he’s been training his whole life. His weakness seems to be on the striking side. Looks to be a counterpuncher as well but may wait a bit too late with low hands sometimes. If he were facing a bigger and more notable striker, I’d say he’d be in trouble. This fight looks to be headed into a jujitsu war and I’m all for it. It’s hard predicting against a champions brother when you can see flashes of the champ in him. But I feel the striking of the Iraqi Prince may give him the edge here. Everything else seems to be even. I’ll say Albazi wins this one by decision.

RESULT: Albazi wins via Submission

Preliminary Card (ABC/ESPN/ESPN+, 8:00 PM ET)

Welterweight Bout: AJ Fletcher vs Ange Loosa

AJ Fletcher looks like he likes to brawl. Like he just gets up brushes his teeth and then gets into a scuffle shortly thereafter. This guy is intense from what I’ve seen. Looks to be a wrestler who with a balanced striking package. Think of a young Michael Chandler.

Looking at Ange Loosa, it’s hard to say what happens because he can be controlled and composed at times, but then wild and savage at other times. This matchup will be an all-out violent battle. Fletcher does seem to have the grappling and submission advantage and seems to have his skill set better put together. Loosa would have to get a nasty knockout to win this one, but I’m not sure that’ll happen. I’m predicting Fletcher will win by submission (TKO by punches would be my next guess).

RESULT: Loosa wins via Unanimous Decision

Featherweight Bout: Sean Woodson vs Luis Saldana

Now we’re getting to more familiar names for me. I remember Sean Woodson for beating Terrance McKinney during a time I was learning about and became excited about McKinney as a fighter. Woodson showed his skill in that fight but made a bigger impression on me because of how tall he was for a featherweight. Initially thought the low weight would be a negative for his frame, it’s proven to be an advantage. Woodson maintains the weight well while taking advantage of good reach and boxing background.

Based on what I see from Saldana, this will be a tough matchup for him. He has all the tools to be a good fighter. But I don’t see anything in his tool belt that can counter or matchup Woodson’s reach and striking abilities. Not sure he’ll be able to overcome that. This may sound crazy, but I’m predicting Woodson will win by submission. Why? I think Saldana will get frustrated with the jabs and being on the outside. I think desperation will lead to some grappling and an opportunity for Woodson to get an easy submission. I’m ready to be wrong about the way it will end but I’m confident in my prediction for a Woodson win.

RESULT: Split Draw

Lightweight Bout: Leonardo Santos vs Jared Gordon

Leonardo Santos had taken down known named fighters like Kevin Lee. Yeah, Lee is not Anderson Silva or anything, but he is a very capable fighter and a win over him looks nice on a resume. Santos also has a highlight level KO win on his record.

Gordon has been in the ring with a current champion before. Obviously, he didn’t win but that experience means something. Gordon has an old school UFC style where you just brawl, trade blows, or stay in the other fighters bubble grappling. I think this would be good in a fight with another fighter, but not with Santos.

I think the difference between the two fighters is that Santos fights loose while Gordon is stiffer. Yes, Gordon can brawl but that won’t intimidate Santos and I think could be too Santos’s benefit. Also, the latest comments from Gordon about MMA doesn’t give me confidence in Gordon’s mindset coming into this fight or any other fight in the future. I’m predicting Gordon will advance a bit too much and will walk into a KO.

RESULT: Gordon wins via Unanimous Decision

Heavyweight Bout: Marcin Tybura vs Alexandr Romanov

I’ll be honest. I’m not that excited for this matchup. Heavyweights can be exciting and explosive or very slow, sluggish, and boring. I have a feeling this will be the latter. I like Tybura’s skill set. He has decent striking and a nice ground game. For most fights, this would bode well for him, but Alexandr Romanov is a big guy. I feel his power and size may be used to slow the fight down and keep it slow. My prediction… Tybura finds a way to keep this on the feet, exciting, and wins.

RESULT: Tybura wins via Majority Decision

UFC 278 Main Card (PPV, 10:00 PM ET)

Light Heavyweight Bout: Tyson Pedro vs Harry Hunsucker

This one could get exciting if it became a slugfest. The ending will be violent. Both Tyson Pedro and Harry Hunsucker have KO ability. The ground game advantage seems to go to Pedro which I believe gives him the advantage if the fight doesn’t stay on the feet. Hunsucker seems to be wider and have a size advantage. It would be best for him to smother Pedro, but I don’t think it’ll be enough. My prediction is a Tyson Pedro finish by submission (I really wanted to say KO, but his submission skills pressured me to choose that finish).

RESULT: Tyson wins via TKO

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Wu Yanan vs Lucie Pudilova

The only women’s fight on the main card is between Wu Yanan and Lucie Pudilova. Now I didn’t think the face of been the two was telling in anyway as far as the fight outcome. Just thought that Pudilova was acting a bit too aggressive, maybe to get pumped for the fight, and that Wu was just playing it cool. I’ve seen many face offs where the aggressive and obnoxious fighter turns around and gets humble in the fight. I just don’t see that happening here.

After looking at some of Wu’s last few fights, she doesn’t seem to be as aggressive as she needs to be. Currently on a three-fight losing streak, I’m wondering how she made it to the main card. The only thing I could come up with, prior to checking out Pudilova last few fights, is that Wu is here to set Pudilova up for a dominate win and advancement in her division.

Pudilova is in a two-fight win streak with five wins in her last six fights. She’s been in some wars early on and although she has seven defeats, only one was a finish. Some may believe her resume to be worse than Wu, but I believe her aggression will play in her favor for this fight. Although I like Wu’s upbeat attitude, I predict a win by decision for Pudilova.

RESULT: Pudilova wins via TKO

Bantamweight Bout: José Aldo vs Merab Dvalishvili

One of my favorite fighters, Jose Aldo, fights Merab Dvalishvili tonight and I’m nervous about it. I’ve watched some of my favorite fighters for years and have seen some of them go into the sunset with losses. I’m hoping that does not happen here. I’ll avoid critiquing Aldo and will get right to Dvalishvili.

Merab Dvalishvili is one of those guys you wouldn’t want to see in a dark alley. Just scary. He seems like a guy who just loves a good war. Brawl or grappling. He’s ready to give it to you. And when you think you’ll just stand in front of him and trade fists all night, he’ll come up with some crazy maneuver to take you down.

I don’t like this matchup, but I know Aldo would have it no other way. I do believe Aldo’s best chance us a standing war. But to win, his takedown defense needs to be top tier. It’s probably obvious that I’m going for Aldo. But if I had to make prediction, I’d try to find a way to avoid doing it like looking to the next fight…

RESULT: Merab Dvalishvili wins via Unanimous Decision

Co-Main Event – Middleweight Bout: Paulo Costa vs Luke Rockhold

Why does Rockhold talk so much stuff? The press conference between Paulo Costa and Luke Rockhold should be enough evidence as to why I’m rooting for Paulo Costa. Rockhold is annoying at best. Yes, he is a former champion and, yes, he is a very good fighter. But if Costa still has some of that magic he came into the UFC with, Rockhold will be adding another ugly KO loss to his resume.

RESULT: Paulo Costa wins via Unanimous Decision

Main Event – Welterweight Title Bout: Kamaru Usman vs Leon Edwards

This fight is one that I’ve been waiting for. I’ve long said that Leon Edwards deserved a title shot. To me, this fight comes second on my welterweight anticipated matches list (just made up that title). The first? Leon Edwards vs. Jorge Masvidal. I mean, how had that fight not happened yet?!

Anyway, this is the second fight between the two fighters but with much higher stakes than the first fight. I see Usman sticking to his game plan. Throwing just enough strikes to get to a take down. Though, I don’t see Usman out-striking Edwards. Edwards has the more complete striking package and, I believe, a better ground game than he did in the first match up.

Listen, if there is someone that could threaten the title, I think Edwards is that guy currently. I think he had the striking to overcome, but I think Usman just has that dog in him. Using a phrase modern sports analysts utter commonly, “he just has that dawg in ‘em.” I think this one is hard to predict but I’ll be bold for this one. Usman wins with a KO/TKO finish! If not, he’ll get the decision.

RESULT: Edwards wins via KO! Wow!