The welterweight championship will be on the line as Kamaru Usman makes his sixth title defense when he takes on Leon Edwards in the main event of UFC 278 at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday (ESPN+ PPV at 10 p.m. ET, with prelims on ABC/ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. and early prelims on ESPN/ESPN+ at 6 p.m.).
Usman (20-1), ESPN's No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, defeated Edwards via unanimous decision when the two first met inside the Octagon in 2015. But Edwards (19-3, 1 NC) hasn't lost a fight since then. His last bout was a win over Nate Diaz in June 2021.
Former UFC fighter and current ESPN MMA analyst Megan Anderson breaks down the title fight.
How did we get here?
In the first fight between these two -- which was only Usman's second appearance in the Octagon -- Edwards' takedown defense was the biggest factor. While he wasn't able to stop all 13 of Usman's takedown attempts, he did stuff seven of them. But he got taken to the canvas six times, and that affected how he fought.
Edwards looked comfortable fighting on the feet and setting the pace in the first round, but because his takedown defense wasn't as refined back then, Edwards wasn't able to open up his striking as much as the fight went on because he had to worry about leaving himself open for Usman's takedown attempts.
Edwards did a good job of defending takedown attempts while fighting against the cage, using it as a prop to help him stay upright. And he was able to stuff multiple straight double-leg takedown attempts as well.