Everything you need to know about UFC 278: Usman Vs Edwards 2

Publish Date
Friday, 19 August 2022, 8:49AM

ACC UFC contributor Felix Heath-Collins with everything you need to know ahead of UFC 278: Usman Vs Edwards 2.

It's finally time for UFC 278 which caps off an exciting month of MMA for the leading promotion with a fantastic offering of fights. The main event sees the reining welterweight champion and all-great Kamaru Usman defend his title in a rematch against long-time contender Leon Edwards.

Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards

Welterweight champion Kamaru "Nigerian Nightmare" Usman (20-1) (wins-losses) is at the absolute pinnacle of mixed martial arts. An extensive wrestling background lead Usman into an MMA career at the highest level, but he wasn't ever happy grinding an opponent to a decision. Kamaru Usman loves to dominate his foes. His first five pro wins came via KO or TKO punches and/or ground-and-pound. Following his 5-1 start to MMA, Usman then made himself known to the wider combat sports world when he competed on season 21 of The Ultimate Fighter reality show, which he smashed through with two decisions and an arm triangle choke in the finale, earning him a UFC contract in the process.

Immediately after earning his contract, Usman was matched up against the seasoned kickboxer Leon Edwards, whom he beat via unanimous decision. 13 more victories followed for Usman, along with the welterweight title he claimed from former champion Tyron "T-Wood" Woodley. And now, 6 years on from their first meeting, Usman and Edwards will rematch for the welterweight belt at UFC 278.

Leon "Rocky" Edwards (19-3) has long been considered the heir to the British MMA throne after the great Michael "The Count" Bisping lost his middleweight belt and retired in late 2017. Making his UFC debut at the end of 2014, Leon Edwards had a "Rocky" start in the promotion, losing in his debut via decision, winning his second fight via eight-second KO/TKO, and winning his third fight via decision.

Next up was the fresh-faced Kamaru Usman who used elite wrestling to dominate the fight. Edwards has been on a tear ever since, going 8-0 (1 No Contest) against the likes of Vicente "The Silent Assassin" Luque, Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone, "RDA" Rafael dos Anjos, and Nate Diaz. Now Edwards believes he has built the skill set necessary to dethrone the reigning champion, Usman.

The champion Kamaru Usman is a suffocating wrestler who has refined and sharpened his striking with acclaimed MMA coach Trevor Whitman. With each fight, Usman's significant strike total would increase. Where could Usman go from total domination and record-breaking strike totals? Why knockouts, of course! Under Whitman's tutelage Usman TKO'd his arch nemesis Colby "Chaos" Covington with strikes - and in the process broke Covington's jaw. Gilbert Burns was knocked down with a power jab and was finished with follow-up ground-and-pound. And welterweight's best boxer Jorge "Gamebred" Masvidal suffered his first KO loss when Usman landed a horrifyingly beautiful right cross to the chin. Leon Edwards has a much narrower skillset of kickboxing with a dusting of wrestling defence on top. Edwards has proven he can trade strikes with the best at welterweight and is capable of quick knockouts, but questions remain about his ability to stuff (defend) takedowns, especially those from welterweight's best wrestler Kamaru Usman. If past is precedent, Edwards will defend (or fall to) Usman's takedowns before eventually succumbing to power punches when Edwards ignores strike defence in favour of takedown defence. It'd be one hell of an upset for Edwards to claim the belt off Usman, but the Brit shouldn't be counted out.

Paulo Costa vs. Luke Rockhold

Paulo "The Eraser" Costa (13-2) is middleweight's strongman. This wild Brazilian is merely a green paint job away from being mistaken for the Hulk. And with immense muscles come immense power, but also low stamina.

Making his UFC debut in 2017, Costa stopped all four of his first opponents via first-round punches stoppage (KO/TKO). Among those victims were ex-welterweight champion (and ex-testosterone abuser) Johny "Big Rig" Hendricks and middleweight ninja Uriah "Prime Time" Hall. Next up was the equally-terrifying monster that is Yoel Romero, the rock golem. Costa won that violent back-and-forth affair via decision, earning him a title shot against Nigerian-Kiwi champ Israel "The Last Stylebender" Adesanya. A sleek left hook, some ground-and-pound, and a hump or two later and Costa had lost his first pro MMA fight. Another loss followed against Marvin "The Italian Dream" Vettori via decision, and now Costa aims to right the ship against a returning ex-champion.

Luke Rockhold (16-5) was an assassin in his prime. Equally capable of punch-knockouts, body kick TKOs, and submissions, Rockhold is a threat wherever the fight may be.

Rockhold's MMA career has seen him rack up seven submissions (five rear naked chokes, one Kimura, and one Guillotine choke), and five striking stoppages (two via punches, one via body knees, a body kick, and one via mixed strikes). Over that violent career, Rockhold managed to claim the middleweight belt by TKO'ing Chris "The All-American" Weidman before being finished by the vengeful Michael Bisping and losing his championship in the process. A strike stoppage victory followed, and then two stoppage losses before Rockhold called it quits on his career - or so we thought.

Now Paulo Costa defends his slipping position in the promotion against the ex-champion Luke Rockhold who has renewed title ambitions, and the skillset to finish anybody living. Costa has the power to level buildings in the opening couple of rounds, but should Rockhold survive the onslaught, Costa will be at his mercy. At his prime in 2015, Rockhold would've decimated Costa, but that prime has long since passed. I wouldn't bet money on either fighter. With our current knowledge of each fighter, this one seems like a coin flip.

Also featured on this tantalising PPV is former featherweight champion José Aldo "Junior" against Georgian steamroller Merab "The Machine" Dvalishvili, plus Australian light-heavyweight banger Tyson Pedro versus Harry "The Hurricane" Hunsucker, and the long-limbed featherweight Sean "The Sniper" Woodson against Luis Saldaña.

All this action and more goes down this Sunday, with the main card beginning at 2:00 PM. Enjoy!

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