Slated for later this week at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, UFC 296 features two fantastic title bouts. Kicking off your UFC 296 betting preview and predictions, the main event of the evening will be UFC Welterweight Champion Leon Edwards taking on former interim champion Colby Covington. The former of course is coming off back-to-back wins against the dominating Kamaru Usman while Covington is making his return after last competing at UFC 272 (a victory over Jorge Masvidal). Meanwhile, the other title fight of the night will pit current UFC Flyweight Champion Alexandre Pantoja against Brandon Royval. The two previously matched up in August 2021 when the former won via second-round submission.
In this report, SBS will review what to look for from each combatant, a selected winner, and even more notes about your UFC 296 betting card.
|UFC 296 Main Event Bouts
|Colby Covington vs. Leon Edwards (c)
|Brandon Royval vs. Alexandre Pantoja (c)
Fighter Spotlight: Leon Edwards
Recognized as a top-five fighter in the UFC men’s pound-for-pound rankings, Edwards is coming off back-to-back sensational welterweight wins over Kamaru Usman. With an overall record of 21-3, the English combatant has been on a tear as of late. In his first win over Usman at UFC 278, he was able to score a spectacular fifth-round head kick knockout which earned him Performance of the Night honors. Moreover, he has won seven fights in his career by way of knockout along with three submission wins. He has also never been knocked out in a professional MMA bout. Since losing to Usman back in December 2015, he has won 11 fights in a row, with one no-contest to Belal Muhammad (March 2021) in between.
Fighter Spotlight: Colby Covington
Covington, known for his Kurt Angle entrance music and boisterous promos, last fought back in March of last year in a unanimous decision-winning effort against Masvidal. Starting his career with a 15-1 record, he has won three of his last five bouts, with both of those losses coming to Usman in Welterweight Championship fights. A fighter with a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lineage background, Covington also was an All-American wrestler out of Oregon State in the early 2010s. A southpaw striker, he has an arsenal of punches and kicks he can roll out and at one point set the record for attempted strikes in a UFC bout with 541. While he is coming off a Fight of the Night outing against Masvidal, it has also been some time since he last stepped in the ring which could play a factor in this fight.
Prediction: This should be a fun fight, but Edwards will have the upper hand here given his superior record and the certain ring rust that Covington will run into.
Fighter Spotlight: Alexandre Pantoja
The reigning UFC Flyweight Champion, the Brazilian fighter has put together a fantastic professional MMA record of 26-5. Pantoja won the UFC Flyweight Championship at UFC 290 back in July via a split decision Fight of the Night victory over Brandon Moreno. In his career, he has won 10 bouts via submission and also scored eight knockout wins which is a higher number for flyweight competitors. Moreover, as noted above he will be looking for his second consecutive win over Royval after forcing him to submit in August 2021.
Fighter Spotlight: Brandon Royval
With three consecutive wins, Royval has found himself again facing Pantoja, the fighter who handed him his last defeat back in 2021. However, the American is coming off back-to-back Performance of the Night/Fight of the Night outings. In his most recent bout against Matheus Nicolau, he was able to score the knockout win with a knee and elbow flourish in the first round of the fight. Prior to that fight, he was victorious over Matt Schnell at UFC 274 with a guillotine choke submission win. With an overall record of 15-6, this will be his biggest fight to date and he will certainly have a lot of support in the crowd with his native Denver, not being too far away from Las Vegas (at least in terms of AFC West opponents).
Prediction: Another close bout, take Pantoja to retain here given his familiarity with Royval and more extensive body of work.
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