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4 reasons to watch Saturday's UFC 278, including an all-time great nearing gold yet again

Take a look at some of the biggest storylines at Saturday's event in Salt Lake City.

UFC returns to Salt Lake City, Utah for "UFC 278: Usman vs Edwards 2," which features a highly anticipated rematch between welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Leon Edwards. Also, former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold returns to the octagon after a two-year layoff to face Paulo Costa, and UFC legend Jose Aldo tries to extend his winning streak to four in a high stakes bantamweight matchup against Merab Dvalishvili.

As fight night approaches, here are four reasons why you should tune in to UFC 278.

1. Kamaru Usman defends welterweight title in rematch against Leon Edwards

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Welterweight champion and pound-for-pound No. 1 ranked Kamaru Usman (20-1 MMA, 15-0 UFC) has already solidified himself as one of the greatest fighters in UFC history. Not only has he been defeating every contender that's rose to the top of the division, but he's starting to beat them twice.

On that list is Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington, two top contenders who have failed to dethrone the champion on two occasions. Next in line is Leon Edwards (19-3 MMA, 11-2 UFC), who Usman faced five months after defeating Hayder Hassan to become "The Ultimate Fighter" in July 2015.

In their first meeting, Usman proved he had a much stronger wrestling game than Edwards, securing six of 13 takedowns and accumulating nearly 11 minutes of control time. A demoralizing defeat at the time, Edwards has since gone unbeaten, winning nine of his 10 bouts with one no contest.

If you didn't watch either of these athletes compete in the last two years, you'd think that this rematch would play out similarly to their first bout seven years ago. Edwards, typically known for his excellent striking, has been vocal in his improvements in his takedown defense and overall ground game. On the flip side, Usman has evolved into an almost entirely standup fighter, finishing opponents like Masvidal and Gilbert Burns, who many believed had the advantage on the feet.

A win over Edwards would earn Usman his sixth successful title defense and 16th consecutive victory inside the octagon, a stat currently held by former middleweight champion Anderson Silva. With so much at stake, and virtually two brand-new fighters, talent-wise, since their first meeting, this is a can't-miss main event in Salt Lake City.

2. Former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold returns to fight Paulo Costa

After over three years away from competition, Luke Rockhold (16-5 MMA, 6-4 UFC) returns to the octagon in the co-main event at UFC 278, facing former middleweight title challenger Paulo Costa (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC). Rockhold was initially scheduled to make his return in November 2021, but a herniated disc forced him to withdraw from his fight against Sean Strickland.

Defeating Chris Weidman to capture UFC gold at "UFC 194: Aldo vs McGregor," Rockhold has since lost three of his last four bouts to Michael Bisping, Yoel Romero and Jan Blachowicz, all by knockout. But with two years away from the sport, Rockhold has allowed his body to fully recover from major injuries and become more comfortable weight cutting to 185 pounds, which could show drastic improvements in his performance and durability on Saturday.

Durability is crucial when competing against a knockout artist like Costa, who's finished 11 of his 13 wins by knockout, including four consecutive finishes after first arriving to the UFC. Like Rockhold, however, his two latest bouts have not gone his way. Losing to middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and Marvin Vettori, Costa suffered his first two defeats in his professional career, and desperately needs a win to begin climbing his way back to a title shot.

Although they haven't been in the win column as of late, when both athletes are fighting at their best, they are elite level talents capable of being top contenders in a stacked UFC middleweight division.

3. Former featherweight champion Jose Aldo continues his chase for bantamweight gold

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In the featured bout on the main card at UFC 278, former featherweight champion Jose Aldo (31-7 MMA, 13-6 UFC) takes on Merab Dvalishvili (14-4 MMA, 7-2 UFC) in a pivotal bantamweight bout, as both fighters are on the cusp of competing for a title.

Losing his first two fights at bantamweight, Aldo has found his footing at 135 pounds and is riding a three-fight win streak, defeating Marlon Vera, Pedro Munhoz and Rob Font on his way to becoming the No. 3-ranked contender.

The room for error for the 35-year-old former champion is slowly closing, however, and a loss at UFC 278 may close the door on a last chance to challenge for the bantamweight title. But Aldo's exceptional takedown defense and still evolving standup makes him a big threat for the Georgian.

Coming to take his spot in the top 5 is No. 6 contender Dvalishvili, a teammate of the division's current champion Aljamain Sterling. Earning "Performance of the Night" honors against Marlon Moraes last fall, Dvalishvili showed an ability to rally after being hurt to earn his first TKO victory in the UFC. Fighting for only three rounds on Saturday, Dvalishvili's exceptional cardio and wrestling can be costly for the Brazilian striker if he can't find early success stuffing takedowns.

Whoever wins, they will be watching their television intently for the next couple months as Cory Sandhagen fights Song Yadong for his spot in line for a title shot. Then, Sterling defends his belt against T.J. Dillishaw in the co-main event at "UFC 280: Oliveira vs. Mahkachev" in October, while top contender Petr Yan challenges Sean O'Malley that same night.

With so much movement at the top of the bantamweight division, any winner among these upcoming matchups may have a chance to fight for the bantamweight strap, including Aldo if he can get a decisive victory this weekend.

Expect a fast-starting, fun ride in this bantamweight matchup between two opponents desperate for a chance to be the best 135-pound fighter in the world.

4. Alexandr Romanov looks to extend his undefeated record

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Also on the main card, No. 13 ranked heavyweight contender Alexandr Romanov (16-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) will try to extend his record to 17-0 against Marcin Tybura (22-7 MMA, 9-6 UFC). Joining the UFC in 2020, Romanov immediately showed that he belonged amongst the best heavyweights in the world.

In his debut, Romanov dominated Roque Martinez, earning a second-round submission victory. The first eye-catching trait was how quickly Romanov moved on his feet, landing jumping knees and putting constant pressure on his opponent.

In his last time out, fighting Chase Sherman in April, Romanov weighed in at nearly 35 pounds under the divisional limit of 265 pounds. Despite having the weight disadvantage against Sherman, he was able to charge forward and secure a lightning-quick takedown only 20 seconds into the bout.

From then on, Romanov outclassed Sherman on the mat, controlling him with heavy pressure, and transitioning effortlessly until eventually reaching full mount. Landing devastating ground-and-pound, Sherman had no choice but to defend the strikes, leaving an arm exposed for a keylock that Romanov took easy advantage of.

With the blueprint to be an elite fighter in the heavyweight division, Romanov must test himself against his first ranked opponent in Tybura. But if Romanov can get an early takedown and make quick work of a sixth straight foe, there's no question that Romanov should be in the top 10 and fighting more of the division's best very soon.

This story first published at UFC.com.