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UFC 278 main card preview & best bets – August 20, 2022

UFC betting tips

The UFC heads to Salt Lake City for an entertaining card of fights featuring a mix of MMA legends inching toward retirement and hungry young fighters looking to make their mark. We analyse two of the more interesting fight below.

Paulo Costa vs Luke Rockhold

Paulo Costa (13-2-0) has not fought since October 2021 when he lost a controversial decision to Marvin Vittori that saw the Brazilian deducted a point for an accidental eye poke. Costa’s previous fight was in Sept 2020 and ended via a strange KO loss to Israel Adesanya for the Middleweight title. The contest featured an almost phantom knockout blow. Prior to these losses, Costa was an unstoppable, unbeaten beast tearing his way through the UFC ranks.

So, what changed? Costa had weight troubles, he was accused of taking PEDs due to his Hulk-like frame, and he may have become distracted by the prize fighting mind games. At his best, Costa just walks his opponents down and throws bombing right hands with the power to separate any man from his consciousness. He looks slimmer and focussed in the lead-up to this fight and might be ready to rediscover his best form.

READ: Usman vs Edwards 2 betting picks & top odds

Luke Rockhold (16-5-0) returns to the octagon after an extended hiatus that included modelling stints for Ralph Lauren, rolling pay disputes with UFC management, appearances on reality TV, and generally living a playboy lifestyle. Like Costa, at his best Rockhold was a fearsome combatant with KO power and a wicked submission game. But Rockhold has been knocked out himself in brutal fashion in his last two outings versus Yoel Romero in Feb 2018, and Jan Blachowicz in July 2019. Many pundits thought Rockhold’s fighting days were done.

Rockhold was so dominant in the early portion of his career that saw him win Strikeforce and UFC titles that he barely concerned himself with defence. He was an arrogant fighter who relied on his ability to finish opponents. But this fell in a heap in June 2016 when he was dispatched by Michael Bisbing’s left hook in one of the biggest upsets in UFC title history. Rockhold never really recovered from the loss, and we shall see if he can produce his old form after such a long break from the octagon.

We are tipping Costa via KO here. Rockhold’s chin might have deserted him, and Costa might be set for an early finish.

Paulo Coast by KO/TKO


Jose Aldo vs Merab Dvalishvili

Jose Aldo (31-7-0) is an MMA legend and future hall-of-famer who must be nearing the end of his UFC journey. Aldo has done it all in the fight game, winning UFC and WEC titles and defending his Featherweight belt seven times until his infamous encounter with Conor McGregor in Dec 2015. Aldo’s career has hit the skids several times since that loss but comes into this fight on a three-fight win streak with victories over Marlon Vera, Pedro Munhoz, and Rob Font.

Merab Dvalishvili (14-4-0) also enters this fight on a nice streak with seven straight victories including over respectable names such Cody Stamann and Marlon Moraes. The Georgian does not possess ready KO power, but effectively employs sambo – the grappling style made famous by Khabib Nurmagomedov. With his long string of wins Dvalishvili is realistically only a win or two away from a title shot. He is currently ranked five, Aldo is ranked three, so Dvalishvili will be hopeful an impressive performance gets him the opportunity to contest the UFC Bantamweight Championship.

We are tipping the former champ Aldo here. If he can keep the fight standing, he might be able to exert his striking advantage. A victory would be a great way for the legend to exit the sport he long dominated.

Jose Aldo to win


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