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Grant Emrick BCDC Analyst Previews UFC 278

UFC 278: Usman vs. Edwards 2

August 20, 2022

Emrick’s UFC Fighter Pick Record (191-101-1) – 65% Correct

Early Prelim Predictions:

FLY: Daniel da Silva (11-3) vs. Victor Altamirano (10-2)

  • Pick: Victor Altamirano

BW: Aoriqileng (22-9) vs. Jay Perrin (10-5)

  • Pick: Aoriqileng

FLY: Amir Albazi (14-1) vs. Francisco Figueiredo (13-4-1, 1 NC)

  • Pick: Amir Albazi

WW: AJ Fletcher (9-1) vs. Ange Loosa (8-3)

  • Pick: AJ Fletcher

Prelim Predictions:

WFLY: Miranda Maverick (12-4) vs. Shanna Young (9-5)

  • Pick: Miranda Maverick

FW: Sean Woodson (9-1) vs. Luis Saldana (16-7)

  • Pick: Sean Woodson

WBW: Wu Yanan (13-5) vs. Lucie Pudilova (13-7)

  • Pick: Wu Yanan

LW: Leonardo Santos (18-6-1) vs. Jared Gordon (18-5)

  • Pick: Jared Gordon

Main Card Predictions:

LHW: Tyson Pedro (8-3) vs. Harry Hunsucker (7-5)

  • Pick: Tyson Pedro (-800)
  • Quick Reasoning: Really? I need to write this out? Hunsucker has never left the first round, and he’s also never won a fight in the UFC or in DWCS. Pedro has been through some long layoffs due to injury, but he really gave the work to Ike Villanueva in his last fight. Pedro still has a legitimate chance to break into the rankings of the division down the road, which is why this PPV bout is a great opportunity to show his powerful leg kicks and finishing power. Ok, enough said, Pedro inside the first round. There’s a reason this guy is -800 a few days before competition. 

HW: #11 Marcin Tybura (22-7) vs. #13 Alexandr Romanov (16-0)

  • Pick: Alexandr Romanov (-350)
  • Quick Reasoning: Even though this was moved to the prelim headliner, I’m still going to give a small reasoning for this one. The betting lines are outrageous, but Romanov is still the play due to his destructive attack on the feet and ground. He has 4 finishes (3 submissions, 1 KO) in 5 UFC fights, albeit to lesser competition than Tybura has handled. However, when you’re this dangerous of a grappler at the heavyweight division, it’s impossible to overlook such a big submission threat. Tybura does offer takedown defense of 82%, so those favorable positions for Romanov will be more difficult to come by. If this fight goes to the mat, it’ll be favoring Romanov more heavily, but I’m very interested to see how Tybura’s striking matches up against the prospect. I truly believe Tybura isn’t a bad underdog play, and at +290 that’s not a bad small unit play. Fun Fact: Since 2017, Tybura hasn’t won a fight where he doesn’t land at least one takedown. I’ve been riding with Romanov for a while and have to until the wheels fall off. I’m going to go with Romanov by a vicious ground and pound in this one. 

BW: #3 Jose Aldo (31-7) vs. #6 Merab Dvalishvili (14-4)

  • Pick: Jose Aldo (+110) *Dawg of the Week*
  • Quick Reasoning: I believe Aldo has turned a new leaf at bantamweight and that his takedown defense should hold up against Merab. We know what’s coming from Merab, lots of takedonws. Dvalishvili averages over 7 takedowns per 15-minutes of fight time, but Aldo has stuffed them at a historically high clip of 90%. They both have similar metrics on the feet in terms of striking accuracy and defense, but Aldo has faced much stiffer competition throughout his career compared to Merab. I’d expect Aldo to keep this standing and for this to be a very competitive 29-28 fight either way, but don’t expect Merab to perform better without utilizing his groundgame. Aldo has only been knocked out by Petr Yan, Max Holloway, and Conor McGregor, and I don’t expect to add Merab to that list in this one. If Aldo eliminates the ground game, this should be his fight the entire way. Merab is a great prospect, but this is his toughest fight to date and Aldo’s takedown defense might just be a little too much for Merab to handle for a three-round fight. Give me Aldo by decision!

MW: #6 Paulo Costa (13-2) vs. Luke Rockhold (16-5)

  • Pick: Paulo Costa (-345) *Lock of the Week*
  • Quick Reasoning: SHEESH! It almost feels like Dana and the men upstairs at the UFC want Rockhold to get brutally KO’d again. Costa delivered many attacks that would’ve finished anyone but his opponent last fall against Marvin Vettori. Now, we have the battle of two men who struggle to make weight somehow fighting at middleweight once again. Rockhold has not fought in over three years (red flag), hasn’t won since 2017 (another red flag), and has been finished in three of his last four fights (you guessed it, red flag). Costa, a mythical greek god type figure, also hasn’t won since 2019, but at least put up an honorable performance against Marvin last October after being finished by the champion in late-2020. In the most respectful way possible, I believe that Rockhold has outstayed his welcome in the MMA world and that Costa will send him into retirement early. I’d even go as far to say that “wine-night” Costa would finish Rockhold, but the activity, six year age gap, and career trajectories of the two fighters are what genuinely separates the two. Costa still has potential to make noise near the top, while Rockhold is nearly 38 and is heading out the door in search of relevancy amongst the division. Take Costa by finish, and also note that Rockhold has only gone the distance twice in his 20 UFC fights. 

WW: *Champion* Kamaru Usman (20-1) vs. #2 Leon Edwards (19-3, 1 NC) 2

  • Pick: Kamaru Usman (-380)
  • Quick Reasoning: How can you pick against the P4P king in Usman? You can’t, especially considering his recent run and striking improvements made along the way. Although both have made significant improvements since their first fight in 2015, there is no doubt Usman’s strides are greater. Growing finishing power, better striking, and a takedown defense rating of 100% through 15 straight wins to begin his UFC career has all the momentum laying with Kamaru. Finishes over Masvidal, Covington, and Burns in three of his last five fights is just downright impressive. On the other hand, Edwards looked nearly untouchable in his fight against an older – and arguably well-past prime – Nate Diaz last Summer. For someone who is more clinch and wrestle-heavy, “Rocky” has performed up to snuff in his shortened, no contest bout with Belal Muhammad. Even though the fight couldn’t go on due to an inadvertent eyepoke, Edwards definitely turned some heads against a top-five welterweight and potential title challenger in Belal. While it’s been seven years since their last fight together, the momentum and activity of Usman is just too strong to side against. Although there were multiple cancellations and scheduling adjustments between Edwards and Chimaev, he’s only fought twice since the summer of 2019 compared to Usman defending the title four times in that span. I see this being a little less clinch-heavy than the first fight, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it becomes a grapple-fest after Usman’s recent hand surgery. Assuming the hand is doing well, I’m sticking with Usman to further cement his case for one of the modern-day MMA GOATs. Take Usman and over 2.5 rounds, but I’m thinking this goes the full five.

Emrick’s Combat Sports Betting:

  • Straight Bets:
    • Dawg of the Week (3-5): Jose Aldo ML
      • 0.5u to win 0.525u
    • Lock of the Week (0-0): Paulo Costa ML
      • 3u to win 0.983u
    • AJ Fletcher ML
      • 2u to win 1.25u
  • Parlay Bets:
    • CSO Parlay: Usman ML, Usyk via Decision/Technical Decision
      • 0.5u to win 1.21u
    • Pedro, Romanov, Costa, Usman ML’s
      • 0.454u to win 0.706u
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