By Kieran Cobley
Salt Lake City plays host to UFC 278 on Saturday night, as Kamaru Usman looks to defend his welterweight title against Leon Edwards in a rematch that has taken seven years to come around.
Usman comes into the bout on a 19 fight win streak and is in the process of lapping the 170lbs division, having already had rematches with Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington, with his main event bout with Edwards being his third rematch in as many years.
For Edwards, UFC 278 sees his long wait for a title fight end after the Birmingham based fighter went through hell and high water to get his shot, racking up a nine fight win streak (not including his no contest with Belal Muhammed) and being taken out of the rankings for his refusal to fight a then un-ranked, Khamzat Chimaev.
The two last squared off in 2015, but both men have evolved since, and you can take a more in-depth preview of their upcoming bout here.
In the co-main event, Paulo Costa will look to show the UFC were right to let him return to the middleweight division after the fiasco with Marvin Vettori as the Brazilian takes on former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold.
Costa’s shenanigans with his last fight, where he notified the UFC that he wouldn’t be attempting to make 185lbs or the then agreed 195lbs, forced the fight into a light heavyweight bout, were highly unprofessional and were rightly criticised by fans and media alike. Now Costa needs to show that he can make 185lbs and keep his name in the division; otherwise, another forced move to 205lbs could be on the cards.
Meanwhile, Rockhold will try to show that he can still beat top quality opponents despite a weakened chin. The former middleweight champion has lost three of his last four bouts by knockout, showing he is susceptible to a heavy punch.
In what could be a title eliminator for the bantamweight division, Merab Dvalishvili squares off with Jose Aldo, the former featherweight king of the UFC.
Dvalishvili is currently riding a five fight winning streak, utilising his heavy wrestling offence to grind out wins over his opponents by sapping their gas tanks. Nowhere is this better illustrated than by his record of 13 takedowns in a fight when he beat Gustavo Lopez back in 2020.
Aldo has looked impressive since moving to 135lbs, and his notorious leg kicks still give his opponents problems to deal with. “The King of Rio” is known for his knockout ability with 16 wins by KO/TKO, and that would look to be his best chance at winning on Saturday, especially if he can avoid hitting the mat with “The Machine.”
Further down the card, Miranda “The” Maverick is in action as she takes on Shanna Young in a flyweight contest to open the ESPN+ prelims. In contrast, Marcin Tybura takes on Alexander Romanov in a heavyweight bout in the evening’s featured prelim.
The action gets underway from 11pm on UfC Fight Pass, with the main card kicking off at 3am.
Kamaru Usman vs Leon Edwards – welterweight title fight
Paulo Costa vs Luke Rockhold – middleweight bout
Jose Aldo vs Merab Dvalishvil – bantamweight bout
Wu Yunan vs Lucie Pudilova – women’s bantamweight bout
Tyson Pedro vs Harry Hunsucker – light heavyweight bout
Marcin Tybura vs Alexander Romanov – heavyweight bout
Leonardo Santos vs Jared Gordon – lightweight bout
Sean Woodson vs Luis Suldana – featherweight bout
Miranda Maverick vs Shanna Young – women’s flyweight bout
A.J. Fletcher vs Ange Loosa – welterweight bout
Amir Albazi vs Francisco Figueiredo – flyweight bout
Aori Qilieng vs Jay Perrin – bantamweight bout
Daniel Lacerda vs Victor Altamirano – flywweight bout