- Date & Location: Saturday, August 20 @ Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah
- Time: Early Prelims (6:00 p.m. ET), Prelims (8 p.m. ET), Main Card (10 p.m. ET)
- How to Watch: Early Prelims (ESPN+), Prelims (ESPN). Main Card (ESPN + pay-per-view)
A rematch of a 2015 contest between Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards headlines the UFC 278 fight card. In the evening’s co-main event, former UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold faces ex-UFC 185-pound title challenger Paulo Costa. Here is some background on the co-headliners before we discuss, in detail, the UFC 278 betting breakdown.
Luke Rockhold won the UFC middleweight title in December 2015 with a fourth-round knockout victory over Chris Weidman. Rockhold’s reign ended with his first defense when Michael Bisping knocked him out in the first round. Things have not gone well for Rockhold since then. He is 1-2 with two knockout losses in his most recent outings. Rockhold has not fought since Jan Blachowicz knocked him out in a light heavyweight contest in 2019.
Paulo Costa opened his career with a 13-0 record. That run earned him a shot at UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. Adesanya won that bout via knockout. In his next outing, Costa showed up to fight week 25 pounds overweight. The bout was changed to a catchweight and then a light heavyweight contest. Marvin Vettori defeated Costa via unanimous decision in that matchup. After the fight, UFC president Dana White said Costa was done at middleweight. It seems as if White has rethought that stance.
Before we look at the bout between Luke Rockhold and Paulo Costa on the UFC 278 PPV card, which streams on ESPN+, check out the best UFC betting sites and where you can find the best odds on all the UFC fights.
UFC 278 Picks: Luke Rockhold vs. Paulo Costa
Luke Rockhold vs. Paulo Costa breakdown and analysis
Paulo Costa enters this fight as the No. 6 ranked fighter in the official UFC middleweight rankings. Luke Rockhold, due to his inactivity, is not currently ranked.
This is an important fight for both men, but it might be more important for Rockhold because of his age, 37, and the fact that his three losses since 2016 have all come via knockout.
This matchup is not ideal if Rockhold’s chin can no longer withstand big punches, because if Costa brings one thing to the table, it is enormous power. Of Costa’s 13 career victories, 11 have come via knockout, including his first four outings with the UFC. In addition to power, Costa brings volume. The 31-year-old Brazilian ranks first all-time in UFC middleweight history with 7.03 significant strikes landed per minute. That’s a stat that Rockhold needs to be very concerned about.
Rockhold’s best hope in this matchup is to get the fight to the ground. The problem with that is that Costa has an 80 percent takedown defense rate. If there is one positive for Rockhold in this scrap, it is that he has been fairly hard to hit during his UFC career with an average of 2.43 significant strikes absorbed per minute.
Pick: Paulo Costa to beat Luke Rockhold
Who has the edge
Costa is younger, more active and more powerful than Rockhold. With MMA fights starting each round on the feet, Costa has the advantage in this bout.
Costa is likely to be very aggressive in this fight. He hasn’t competed since October and he is anxious to get back in the octagon and get back in the hunt for another middleweight title shot. That aggressiveness could open him up for takedowns in this bout, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case. I think he tags Rockhold with one of his powerful punches and ends the fight early.
Prediction: Paulo Costa to defeat Luke Rockhold via knockout.
Best UFC 278 bets
When it comes to UFC 278 betting, I see Paulo Costa as the winner in this matchup and I think he gets the victory via knockout sometime in the second round or later.
Pick: Paulo Costa to score a knockout against Luke Rockhold.
See below a list of reliable sportsbooks and choose the best one for you.
50% up to $1,000
100% up to $1,000
125% Sports Bonus - up to $2,500