UFC

UFC 278: Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards preview and prediction

Preview and prediction for Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards 2 at UFC 278.

Six years and eight months since their first encounter, Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards will meet once again — this time for the UFC welterweight championship and in the main event of UFC 278.

Usman, who has been unbeaten in MMA since the end of 2013, fought Edwards in his first UFC bout after winning season 21 of The Ultimate Fighter. He’s momentum has only continued to increase, claiming the UFC welterweight championship and earning comparisons of dominance to another welterweight great — the legendary Georges St. Pierre.

Usman claimed the 170-pound gold with a win over Tyron Woodley at UFC 235 and has since made five successful defenses — twice against Colby Covington, twice against Jorge Masvidal and once against Gilbert Burns.

Edwards has been on a tear himself since their first meeting, too — it’s the most recent loss in his career. He’s gone 9-0 (with one no-contest) in his last ten fights, with his most recent win coming against Nate Diaz at UFC 263 in June 2021. Edwards had won eight straight — which includes victories over Vicente Luque, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Rafael dos Anjos — before a no-contest with Belal Muhammad.

Who will win at UFC 278: Kamaru Usman or Leon Edwards?

When the two first met in December 2015, it was Usman getting the win via unanimous decision.

Per the Tale of the Tape via FightMetrics, Edwards will have a two-inch height advantage, while Usman has a two-inch reach advantage. Though their numbers in the significant striking department are mostly similar, Usman has a noted edge in strikes landed per minute. Usman, the former NCAA Division-II champion wrestler, also has a higher takedown average and accuracy percentage and has yet to be taken down in his UFC career.

When looking at their first encounter through FightMetrics, Usman landed 126 of 163 strike attempts on Edwards (48 of 80 significant) — a higher rate and output than Edwards. Usman only landed half of the takedown attempts he shot in on Edwards, but he made those attempts count with the damage and control done on the ground.

Since that first fight, Edwards has definitely improved, and that includes the grappling department. But for everything he has improved in, Usman has also improved in — and is simply just better. Usman has more power in his striking. His wrestling is dominant. His pressure is on another level. He’s had better opponents and better finishes — and more finishes in that.

Edwards is tough, but Usman is just better, and Usman’s rocket should continue to soar here. It’s not a guarantee he’ll get the finish — in fact, Edwards has never been finished in his professional MMA career (his only non-decision loss was a DQ) — but Usman is a safe play here as he continues his push for G.O.A.T. status.

Prediction: Usman via unanimous decision

UFC 278: Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards takes place on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022, live from the Vivint Arena, in Salt Lake City, UT. Follow along with FanSided MMA, who is on site, for all your news and highlights.