Leon Edwards has a chance to exact revenge against the pound-for-pound king while Australian Tyson Pedro is looking to continue his incredible comeback from injury.
Plus — two fierce rivals meet in a make-or-break grudge bout.
All that and more in a stacked UFC 278 card! Follow all the latest updates below!
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USMAN LOOKS TO ‘HUMBLE’ EDWARDS IN TITLE FIGHT
The main event sees Kamaru Usman attempt to further cement his title legacy by taking care of top contender Leon Edwards once more.
The two last fought back in 2015 but Edwards has been on an undefeated run since, with wins over Nate Diaz, Rafael Dos Anjos and Vincente Luque.
“I can see straight through him,” said Edwards, who is unbeaten since 2015.
Usman himself though remains undefeated in the UFC and will further stake his claim as the No. 1 ranked pound-for pound fighter in the world with a victory on Sunday.
Australian Alexander Volkanovski is Usman’s biggest threat for that crown and the featherweight champion had some timely advice for him ahead of the upcoming fight.
FULL UFC 278 GUIDE: ‘Ultimate’ rematch; Aussie star to complete historic comeback
“Usman is very well-rounded,” Volkanovski told Main Event.
“He has shown that he can stand with the best of them. But, I think Usman can get it done purely because he’s well-rounded. If he really thinks he’s going to go out there and want to really prove his striking abilities and stuff, he could do himself some harm that way.
“I think he should show all his skill set and why he’s up there on the pound-for-pound list. You don’t have to just be a good striker, you want to be well-rounded and he definitely is.”
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s fight, Usman claimed that Edwards had been getting ahead of himself and would get a reality check from the champion.
“He’s being himself and has done great things, but I do feel he’s losing himself a little bit,” he said, per BBC.
“It’s not personal for me, I believe I’m number one but it’s [fame] clearly getting to his head. I’m going to humble you.”
Edwards though had plenty to say too, declaring he has “grown leaps and bounds” and will teach the champion a lesson.
“He’s another black man doing good stuff, I know we’re going to fight but I’m not a hater,” he said.
“But every press conference he’s dressed in the ‘how to be arrogant’ style pack. I’ve seen it time and time before. The fame has got to him.”
EVERYTHING ON THE LINE FOR FIERCE RIVALS
There is certainly no love lost between Paulo Costa and Luke Rockhold ahead of what shapes as a career-defining fight for the two.
Costa had been on a 13-fight win streak before back-to-back defeats to Israel Adesanya and Marvin Vettori, with a win over Rockhold putting him back in the title picture.
As for Rockhold, he has not fought in the UFC for three years, with the former middleweight champion returning and looking to re-establish himself as a contender.
Rockhold is on a two-fight losing skid of his own and another defeat here could end with the veteran hanging up the gloves.
The pair clashed earlier in the week, with Costa vowing to “retire” Rockhold, who had a few choice words of his own for his rival.
“I’m in my prime time, I will f*** this old man,” Costa said earlier in the week.
“He is visibly uncomfortable because he knows he will face a monster. And he knows already, look at him – he’s not comfortable. … I will retire him.”
Rockhold, who has eight wins by submission to his name, could have the advantage on the ground, although getting Paulo there in itself will be a challenge.
The former champion though sounded confident earlier in the week, even if Costa was not buying it.
“I’ll treat Paulo like a b**** if it gets to the ground,” Rockhold said.
“It’ll be over.”
“Oh, man, come on,” Costa replied, laughing.
“This guy is too old to say this kind of bulls***. Come on, man. Come on.”
Rockhold later took aim at Paulo, claiming he had constantly tried to delay the fight taking place.
“This motherf***er didn’t want to take this fight in the first place,” Rockhold said.
“The UFC forced it down his throat, and he delayed it twice. Month after month after all the cosmetic bulls*** you got done? You little b****, shut up.”
It is safe to say both Costa and Rockhold will be looking for the finish on Sunday.
UFC LEGEND ALDO READY TO GET HIS TITLE SHOT
In another intriguing fight on the main card, former UFC featherweight champion and current No. 3 ranked bantamweight contender Jose Aldo will be looking to put himself back in the title frame.
He will face No. 6 Merab Dvalishvili, who is building momentum in his own rise up the ranks but has never come up against a fighter of Aldo’s standing.
Aldo told reporters he believes he should have already got a title shot but will use his fight with Dvalishvili as another chance to well and truly push his claims.
“I actually think that I (should’ve been) fighting for the title,” Aldo said.
“I wanted to fight Aljo (Aljamain Sterling), but he’s going for Dillashaw. I believe if I win this fight, I am actually then the next one up to fight for the belt.”
Dvalishvili will be no easy beat though, on a seven-fight winning streak, although none of those opponents have been on the level of the legendary Aldo.
AUSSIE PEDRO LOOKS TO CONTINUE UNBELIEVABLE COMEBACK
Earlier in the day, Australian Tyson Pedro will look to continue his comeback from injury when he faces Harry Hunsucker.
Pedro, who returned from the longest injury lay-off in UFC history against Ike Villanueva in April, scored a first-round knockout win on that occasion.
“The win wasn’t as important as just getting back in the octagon at that point,” Pedro said earlier in the week.
“It was just about proving to everyone that doubted me and proving to myself that I was supposed to be in there. It was a flood of emotions afterwards – too much for one moment. I don’t recommend it. But it was just fun to be back. I love it.
“I’m actually more excited for this fight because everything I envisioned for those four years was with a crowd. That was the only thing that didn’t go as planned. This one, I’m super excited to be here.”
Now Pedro will be looking to keep the momentum going when he faces Hunsucker, who is stepping down a division and hoping to make his mark at light heavyweight.
Kamaru Usman vs Leon Edwards (welterweight title bout)
Paulo Costa vs Luke Rockhold (middleweight)
Jose Aldo vs Merab Dvalishvili (bantamweight)
Wu Yanan vs Lucie Pudilova (bantamweight)
Tyson Pedro vs Harry Hunsucker (light heavyweight)
Marcin Tybura vs Alexandr Romanov (heavyweight)
Leonardo Santos vs Jared Gordon (lightweight)
Sean Woodson vs Luis Saldana (featherweight)
Miranda Maverick vs Shanna Young (flyweight)
AJ Fletcher vs Ange Loosa (welterweight)
Amir Albazi vs Francisco Figueiredo (flyweight)
Aoriqileng vs Jay Perrin (bantamweight)
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