The final UFC pay-per-view event of a glorious summer of fighting is upon us, with one of the biggest title fights in British MMA history taking place as the main event in Salt Lake City, Utah.
There’s not just titles on the line, but legendary status at stake on Saturday night. Luke Rockhold and Jose Aldo also feature on the main card, putting their reputations on the line against fighters on the hunt for a title shot.
Where: Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
When: Saturday 20th August from 11pm BST
How To Watch: Prelims live on UFC Fight Pass from 11pm BST, BT Sport coverage begins at 1am BST.
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Usman vs Edwards 2:
A rematch seven years in the making, Kamaru Usman hasn’t lost in any of his 15 UFC fights, and Leon Edwards has lost just once when he met the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ all those years ago. The original match-up between these two was a great three rounder, with The Ultimate Fighter winner Usman managing to get the upper hand over Edwards with his dominant grappling and outstruck the Brit over 15 minutes in a prelim bout in Florida.
Expect much of the same, on Saturday night. ‘Rocky’ has been spending his time working hard on his ground skills and takedown defence, but Kamaru Usman is an unstoppable machine when it comes to wrestling. Usman’s best route to victory would be to test his opponents willpower against his ability to floor an opponent in seconds.
Edwards on the other hand will know he has to dig deep to win. He’s acclimatised to five round fights with bouts against Nate Diaz, Rafael Dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone, and if he can survive the first round and nail his takedown defence, then he may stand a chance by outstriking the champion and hoping for a decision victory. Colby Covington had relative success in terms of striking in his two fights with Usman, managing to stun the champ a few times. ‘Rocky’ might find himself going the same way if he can persuade Usman to avoid any grappling exchanges with staunch defence.
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@bisping x @Leon_edwardsmma
#UFC278 | Saturday | BT Sport 1
Costa vs Rockhold:
Paulo Costa and Luke Rockhold prelude the title fight with five rounds of violence in the Mormon state. Costa, a former title challenger on a two-fight loss streak needs a win to stay in contention for more middleweight glory. There’s plenty the Brazilian can learn from his opponent too. Rockhold has been out of the cage for three years, dealing with injuries and balancing a modelling career outside the octagon. He was a dominant champion until a late replacement saw Michael Bisping knockout the Californian with a devastating left hook. Like Costa, Rockhold’s career was left on the sidelines as he tried to recoup his former glory with moves across divisions to fight higher profile fighters, failing to recapture his pre-title loss form.
Costa’s title challenges against champion Israel Adesanya were lacklustre and his excuses were just as dire. Claiming to have drunk an entire bottle of wine the night before the fight suggests an attitude problem that will only be proven to be corrected by fighting with conviction in his upcoming events, like with Rockhold this Saturday night.
Rockhold can reignite his middleweight division with a win, and find himself within a few fights of contention himself. It should be an exciting fight regardless of the outcome, with both fighters known for creative striking and power.
Aldo vs Dvalishvili:
The legendary Brazilian Jose Aldo is not showing any signs of slowing down despite embarking on the 18th year of his career. Since dropping down to bantamweight, he’s managed to find his groove after early losses to Marlon Moraes and Petr Yan, defeating Marlon Vera, Pedro Munhoz and Rob Font in his latest three fights.
In the opposite corner is Georgia’s Merab Dvalishvili, a takedown expert on a seven fight win streak. An impressive comeback for ‘The Machine’ last time out against Marlon Moraes saw him recover from being knocked down in the first round before mounting an epic comeback and TKO’d his opponent a round later.
All in all, it’s one of the greatest to ever do it, with probably the best defence of grappling in the sport, against a man that just loves to throw his prey around the ring before getting stuck in with strikes and submissions.
Other Fights To Watch:
Other key fights to watch out for is Marcin Tybura vs Alexandr Romanow, the latter looking to take his undefeated record to 17-0 with a win on Saturday. A match up of Dana White Contender Series graduates also meet in Sean Woodson and Luis Saldana, the former stopping rising star Terrance McKinney to earn his contract, and Saldana having gone the distance three times in his three UFC fights. If nothing else, Woodson being six foot two in the featherweight division is a perplexing sight to most, so that should be a fun old school scrap.
Kamaru Usman vs Leon Edwards (Welterweight)
Paulo Costa vs Luke Rockhold (Middleweight)
Jose Aldo vs Merab Dvalishvili (Bantamweight)
Marcin Tybura vs Alexander Romanov (Heavyweight)
Tyson Pedro vs Harry Hunsucker (Light Heavyweight)
Leonardo Santos vs Jared Gordon (Lightweight)
Wu Yanan vs Lucie Pudilova (W Bantamweight)
Sean Woodson vs Luis Saldana (Featherweight)
Miranda Maverick vs Shanna Young (W Flyweight)
AJ Fletcher vs Ange Loosa (Welterweight)
Francisco Figueiredo vs Amir Albazi (Flyweight)
Aori Qileng vs Jay Perrin (Bantamweight)
Daniel Lacerda vs Victor Altamirano (Flyweight)