UFC 278: Odds, Predictions, and Free Picks
Substack to Date: 11-8 (+5.92 Units)
Location: Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
Early Prelims: 6:00 PM EST - ESPN/ESPN+
Prelims: 8:00 PM EST - ESPN/ABC/ESPN+
Main Card: 10:00 PM EST - ESPN+ PPV
We’re on to UFC 278 for what should be a sneaky good card from top to bottom, despite the lack of star power that we typically see from PPV events.
In an effort to constantly be enhancing our proprietary dashboard, I’ve added Fighter Style to better compare and contrast each opponent. A Strength of Past Opponents metric is in the works, and hopefully will be ready by end of summer.
Let’s dive in.
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Francisco Figueiredo vs. Amir Albazi
The younger sibling of this division's champion is a far cry from his big brother. 2-1-1 over his last four fights, he’ll now enter the octagon for his most difficult matchup to date against an opponent that does better what it is he does best; grappling.
Having won four straight including 2-0 in the UFC, Albazi is a grappling specialist with 8 of his 14 professional wins coming via submission, including three of his last five. Holding a nearly 2x edge in submission average, Albazi holds a 4x edge in striking should they decide to keep it on the feet.
With a combined average of 85% of their wins coming inside the distance, I expect the same here and for a better fighter in Albazi to come away victorious.
Pick: Amir Albazi to Win Inside the Distance (+165 at BetOnline.ag) to risk 1.65 units
AJ Fletcher vs. Ange Loosa
After losing his DWCS fight in September, Loosa won a unanimous decision vs. John Howard (in a promotion called XMMA) earlier this year before fighting Mounir Lazzez in his UFC debut two weeks later. Losing that fight, he earned himself another one against fellow DWCS alumni AJ Fletcher.
Also having lost his UFC debut (March 2022 vs. Matthew Semelsberger via decision), the first loss of his career, Fletcher largely lost that fight on the ground; something he won’t have to worry about here.
It’s also worth noting that it was just the second fight of Fletcher’s career that has gone the distance, with his five prior ending in the very first round. Holding the fight metric edge in striking accuracy, submission average (3x), and takedown average (8x), I like for the more well-rounded Fletcher to get this one done.
Pick: AJ Fletcher (-150 at DraftKings Sportsbook) to risk 2 units
Wu Yanan vs. Lucie Pudilova
We’re chasing steam on this one as Yanan opened as high as +180, but I still think there’s some value here at + money. While her three straight losses are certainly a concern, all three were against quality opponents (Bueno Silva, Edwards, and Inoue) who have in the time since shown that quality in spades.
On the other hand, Pudilova will be making her return to the UFC following a 2-5 stint that spanned 2017-2019, since fighting in a promotion called Oktagon MMA? winning five of six there; all via decision.
The metrics within the UFC, however, are what paint the story for me, as Yanan holds the edges across the board, particularly in grappling where she averages 3x more takedowns and 3x takedown accuracy. While we likely grind this one out via decision, I like Yunan to get there.
Pick: Wu Yanan (+120 at Caesars Sportsbook) to risk 1 unit
Paulo Costa vs. Luke Rockhold
Before running into Stlyebender in the middleweight title fight in September 2020, Costa had rattled off 13 straight wins to start his career, all but Yoel Romero decided inside the distance. Losing a tough decision to Marvin Vettori a year later, this is a get-right fight for Costa for all intents and purposes.
Not only has Rockhold not been inside of an octagon vs. live action for just over three years, but even then, he had lost three of his final four. Add in these two average 91% of their combined 17 UFC fights finishing inside the distance, and I like the fighter in his prime with another title shot in reach to get this one done with relative ease.
Pick: Paulo Costa Inside the Distance (-160 at BetOnline.ag) to risk 3 units
Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards
You don’t win 11 fights in the UFC being a fraud, but apparently, you do fool a lot of people into thinking you’re a real contender. Throwing out Edward’s no contest vs. Belal Muhammad in March of 2021, his last four opponents (all of which he beat via decision) have an average age of 37 and average total fights of 39 at the time of their fight vs. Edwards.
On the other side of this matchup, Usman will enter the octagon having won 18 straight on his way to the welterweight title, which he has now successfully defended six times, four of which ended via KO/TKO.
Holding large edges in striking (2x), grappling (2.5x), and defense, Usman also holds the activity advantage with Edwards having not fought in over a year.
While the odds have gotten out of control on this one, I do like for Usman to end this one inside the distance.
Pick: Kamaru Usman by KO/TKO or Submission (+230 at FanDuel) to risk 1 unit
BMP of the Week (Beer Money Parlay)**
Altamirano + Albazi + Costa via KO/TKO + Yanan + Santos + Perrin (+5081 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
Amir Albazi to Win Inside the Distance (+165 at BetOnline.ag) to risk 1.65 units
AJ Fletcher (-150 at DraftKings Sportsbook) to risk 2 units
Wu Yanan (+120 at Caesars Sportsbook) to risk 1 unit
Paulo Costa Inside the Distance (-160 at BetOnline.ag) to risk 3 units
Kamaru Usman by KO/TKO or Submission (+230 at FanDuel) to risk 1 unit
All current and historical picks are tracked here.
*All odds as of the day of posting.
**Parlays are the fastest way to lose money in sports betting. That said there is nothing more fun. Have at it, but only with our weekly drinking (High Noons at JC HQ) money.
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