Kamaru Usman has steadily picked apart the welterweight division, putting away some of the weight classes’ best since first becoming champion in 2019. Along the way, he has earned UFC’s top-ranked pound-for-pound fighter award and become one of the most successful welterweights in UFC history.
This weekend, it will be time once again for Usman to keep that successful streak alive. He’s booked to face rising contender Leon Edwards this Saturday, meeting him in the main event of UFC 278 from the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
Here’s a full preview of the night.
Early Prelims (6:00PM EDT / 4:00PM MDT) (ESPN+ / UFC Fight Pass)
Bout 1: Victor Altamirano (10-2) vs. Daniel da Silva (11-3) (Flyweight)
Both competing for their first UFC victory, Victor Altamirano and Daniel da Silva will open Saturday’s card.
Altamirano lost his debut in February, dropping a split decision to Carlos Hernandez. The former LFA Flyweight Champion previously joined the UFC roster in 2021, defeating Carlos Candelario on “Dana White’s Contender Series.”
Da Silva has suffered two losses since joining the UFC roster in 2021. His last defeat came in April when Francisco Figueiredo submitted him with the rare kneebar.
Bout 2: Aoriqileng (23-9) vs. Jay Perrin (10-5) (Bantamweight)
At bantamweight, Aoriqileng and Jay Perrin will meet.
Aoriqileng scored his first UFC victory in April, earning a first-round finish against Cameron Else. That performance snapped a two-fight skid for him.
Perrin joined the UFC roster in February as a short-notice step-in opponent. He suffered a loss in that appearance, dropping a decision to Mario Bautista. Before then, he succeeded in regional promotions Cage Titans and CES.
Bout 3: Amir Albazi (14-1) vs. Francisco Figueiredo (13-4-1) (Flyweight)
The flyweight division will get showcased once again on the prelims when Amir Albazi and Francisco Figueiredo face off.
Albazi has an impressive record of 14 wins and just one loss. He has yet to suffer defeat in the UFC, although he has only competed once since joining the roster two years back.
Albazi’s last win was more than a year ago, defeating Zhalgas Zhumagulov at UFC 257.
Figueiredo has picked up two wins and one loss since entering the UFC. As mentioned earlier in the article, Figueiredo is coming off a quick kneebar submission against Daniel da Silva.
Preliminary Card (8:00PM EDT / 6:00PM MDT) (ESPN / TSN 2)
Bout 4: AJ Fletcher (9-1) vs. Ange Loosa (8-3) (Welterweight)
Returning after their respective promotional debuts, AJ Fletcher and Ange Loosa will appear in the next fight. This fight was originally scheduled for the “Early Prelims” portion of the card but was moved up after a flyweight bout between Miranda Maverick and Shanna Young was removed from the lineup.
Fletcher took his first pro loss in his UFC debut earlier this year in March, going the distance against Matthew Semelsberger but not being picked on scorecards.
Fletcher entered the UFC roster in 2021, earning a contract with a flying knee knockout over Leonardo Damiani on “Dana White’s Contender Series.”
Loosa was a short-notice opponent for Mounir Lazzez in April. He lost that UFC debut, but it’s worth noting it was only two weeks after his last fight on the regional scene. Now with some time off and presumably a full fight camp, Loosa will get another shot in the UFC cage.
Bout 5: Sean Woodson (9-1) vs. Luis Saldana (16-7) (Featherweight)
Rising featherweights Sean Woodson and Luis Saldana will face off in the next match.
Woodson has won three of his four fights in the UFC cage. He earned his first stoppage victory for the promotion late last year, catching Collin Anglin with punches.
Saldana is coming off a recent win against Bruno Souza, who he beat via unanimous decision in March.
Bout 6: Marcin Tybura (22-7) vs. Alexandr Romanov (16-0) (Heavyweight)
Undefeated heavyweight Alexandr Romanov will attempt to keep his winning streak alive this weekend, facing Marcin Tybura on the prelims.
Romanov has now put together an impressive five wins since joining the UFC roster in 2020. His last win came against short-notice opponent Chase Sherman, submitting him with a rare americana.
This bout is a significant increase in competition for Tybura compared to previous matchups. Tybura had a five-fight winning streak broken in his last appearance, losing to veteran Alexander Volkov. He had many big wins on his record before then, including wins over Ben Rothwell and Maxim Grishin.
Bout 7: Jared Gordon (18-5) vs. Leonardo Santos (18-5-1) (Lightweight)
The prelims will wrap up with a lightweight bout between Jared Gordon and Leonardo Santos.
Gordon suffered a submission loss earlier this year, taking a rear naked choke defeat against Grant Dawson. The former CFFC champion had a three-fight run of wins before then.
Santos will look to avoid falling into a three-fight skid. He took two losses in 2021, getting finished by Grant Dawson and Clay Guida. He had a sneaky winning streak put together before then, having scored six consecutive victories from 2014 to 2020.
Main Card (10:00PM EDT / 8:00PM MDT) (PPV)
Bout 8: Tyson Pedro (8-3) vs. Harry Hunsucker (7-5) (Light Heavyweight)
In an unexpected move to light heavyweight, Harry Hunsucker will face Tyson Pedro to open the main card.
Hunsucker has fought as a heavyweight on the UFC roster since 2021. He has been unsuccessful thus far, taking two straight first-round finish losses. Now down a weight class, Hunsucker is valued as a massive underdog heading into this weekend’s card.
Pedro made his return recently, stepping into the UFC cage for the first time in over three years. He was successful in that outing, stopping Ike Villanueva in the first round of a bout in April. Now just four months later, Pedro will aim to keep that momentum going.
Bout 9: Lucie Pudilova (13-7) vs. Wu Yanan (13-5) (Bantamweight)
Lucie Pudilova’s second run as a UFC fighter will kick off this weekend when she faces Wu Yanan.
Pudilova previously fought on the UFC roster from 2017 to 2020. Then a flyweight, she departed the roster after going on a four-fight skid. She has made her way back to the promotion after a highly successful run on the regional scene, picking up five wins and one loss.
Wu will be aiming to score her first win since 2018. She has struggled in recent years, having lost three straight fights as of late.
Bout 10: Jose Aldo (31-7) vs. Merab Dvalishvili (14-4) (Bantamweight)
Merab Dvalishvili’s steady climb up the bantamweight division will get a tough test on Saturday night, as he will face former champion Jose Aldo in a three-round bout.
Dvalishvili has won seven fights since 2017 against increasingly tough opposition. Last year in particular saw Dvalishvili face big names, prevailing over Cody Stamann and Marlon Moraes.
Aldo also enters this fight with a strong amount of momentum. His last fight was a main event victory, going five rounds against Rob Font for a unanimous decision victory in late 2021. Before then, he styled on Pedro Munhoz and Marlon Vera.
Bout 11: Paulo Costa (13-2) vs. Luke Rockhold (16-5) (Middleweight)
Former UFC Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold will make his return in Saturday’s co-main event against Paulo Costa.
Rockhold has been out of the UFC cage since 2019 and has remained away from the middleweight division since 2018. His last bout came at UFC 239 when Jan Blachowicz scored a second-round finish over him. The bout was his second consecutive defeat via finish.
Rockhold, 37, will be fighting to break what is already the longest losing streak of his career. On the other side of things, Costa will be aiming to end the only skid he has ever faced as an MMA pro.
Costa took his first pro defeat in 2020, getting finished in a title bout against Israel Adesanya. He has been somewhat inactive since then, being booked for many fights but only appearing in one. That other bout was also a loss, going five rounds but losing via unanimous decision to Marvin Vettori in October 2021.
Bout 12: Kamaru Usman (20-1) vs. Leon Edwards (19-3) (UFC Welterweight Championship)
UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman will attempt to maintain his status as one of the most dominant current titleholders on Saturday night when he faces Leon Edwards.
Usman has defended his belt a total of five times since first earning it in 2019. This number of defenses ties him with middleweight titleholder Israel Adesanya as the most successful men’s champion at the moment (the champion with the most defenses across all divisions currently is Valentina Shevchenko, who has prevailed in seven consecutive fights as champion).
Saturday will mark Usman’s first appearance of the year. After a busy 2021 that saw him compete three times, Usman is coming back to the cage after a nine-month absence from competition.
Usman’s most recent fight was at UFC 268 when he went five rounds for a unanimous decision victory.
Usman’s run as champion has been long thus far. But also long has been Edwards’ ongoing climb up the division.
The start of Edwards’ current run actually started before he last saw Usman. The duo first fought in 2015, when Usman took a unanimous decision win.
A lot has changed since then. Edwards has yet to taste defeat since that now-dated appearance, winning nine fights in more recent years. He went five rounds for the first time in his last appearance, defeating veteran Nate Diaz in June 2021. Before then, his most notable victories came against Rafael dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone.
Edwards enters this weekend as quite the underdog. While he lacks many of the big wins that most contenders go into a title bout with, Edwards does carry one of the longest winning streaks in the division. This weekend, we will find out if he is the biggest hidden gem in the division, and if he can become the top name at 170 pounds.