(All stats according to UFC’s Record Book and Fight Metric as of August 17, 2022, and only include active athletes in their respective division unless noted otherwise)
Main Event: Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards
Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman
Key Stats: 3 takedowns per 15 minutes, +2.07 striking differential (3rd all-time among welterweights), 10 knockdowns landed (tied-3rd all-time among welterweights)
What It Means: Although primarily still thought of as a wrestler, Usman's striking improvements are evident. He has always fought with a stalker's mentality, but now, it's with a nearly equal threat of heavy strikes as it is an emphatic takedown. His motor is endless, but he doesn't necessarily pour on pressure with volume as much as intelligent footwork and timing on shots. His jab from both stances is educated and powerful, and although he does swing wild on occasion, he is methodical with his work. Usman has good body kicks and push kicks, as well. When he gets his opponent's back against the cage, he does well to either secure a takedown or at least keep his opponent stuck there, where he makes life generally miserable.
Key Stats: 2.15 strikes absorbed per minute (3rd all-time among welterweights), 70 percent takedown defense, 2.62 strikes landed per minute
What It Means: Edwards is an incredibly sharp kickboxer who has continuously improved his defensive grappling as his UFC career has grown. "Rocky" is quick on his feet and mixes his attack up well, often throwing multi-level combinations to his opponent's legs, body and head. In clinches, he is deft about using his elbows, especially when exiting a tie-up. He has very fluid hips and can reverse some positions, as well, to land damage or gain some control time. If he is on the back foot, Edwards has an intelligent counterstriking ability that allows him to punish a marauding opponent and pivot away from the fence.
What to Look For in the Fight: Their first fight played out as more of a classic striker vs grappler matchup, but both men have rounded out their games nicely over the years. Despite Usman's assertions that wrestling is imminent, the welterweight champ has shown more than a willingness to stand and trade with more decorated strikers. If Usman can establish his jab and manage the range, he could create a lethal guessing game for Edwards. However, Edwards, if he can stuff takedowns early and get up quickly when put onto his back, he should have plenty of opportunities to pick his shots on the feet.
Co-Main Event: Paulo Costa vs. Luke Rockhold
Key Stats: 7.03 strikes landed per minute (1st all-time among middleweights), 57.3 percent significant strike accuracy (3rd all-time among middleweights), 1.32 knockdowns per 15 minutes (tied-7th all-time among middleweights)
What It Means: Costa has the mind of a berserker and the heart of a showman, which makes him quite the entertaining knockout artist when he is on his game. He seems to always move forward, and he loves to attack his opponent's body with heavy kicks and quick hands, especially when he senses a finish coming. "The Eraser" usually does his best work on the inside when he has his foe backed up against the fence, where he can unload a combination while they're pinned there.
Key Stats: 56 percent significant striking accuracy (5th all-time among middleweights), +2.04 striking differential (7th all-time among middleweights), 1.42 submissions per 15 minutes (5th all-time among middleweights)
What It Means: The former middleweight champion is a skillful striker and talented grappler, but his three-plus-year layoff brings many questions regarding any changes he might make to his style as well as his general durability. Rockhold has some flash to his striking and has a beautiful left kick, but his wrestling and jiu jitsu make him a threat wherever the fight goes.
What to Look For in the Fight: Rockhold has a couple ways to handle Costa's pressure, which is inevitable. The former champ could choose to grapple early and often to drain Costa's gas tank a bit, or he could try to keep Costa at bay with his kicks, jabs and footwork. That said, Costa is a bit unrelenting with his pressure, so even if Rockhold can blast kicks to Costa's legs, he'll have to mind the bombs getting thrown his way. Costa does have his fair share of skills on the ground although he hasn't chosen to show much of that in the octagon to this point.
Jose Aldo vs. Merab Dvalishvili
Key Stats: 18:41 average fight time (1st all-time among bantamweights), 90 percent takedown defense, 3.61 strikes landed per minute
What It Means: The King of Rio has performed well in the bantamweight division, and he has given fellow 135ers fits with his defensive sharpness and measured attack. Aldo's boxing is always sharp as can be, especially when countering his opponents. Against Pedro Munhoz, Aldo frustrated the Brazilian with his footwork, picking Munhoz apart and avoiding damage. Against Rob Font, Aldo showed his power and explosiveness is there in spades. His defensive grappling is always there, as he shows great hips and intelligent defensive when tested.
Key Stats: 7.3 takedowns per 15 minutes, 63 takedowns landed (9th all-time), 41.7% control time percentage (4th all-time among BW)
What It Means: Dvalishvili is a mad man who truly does not care about the dangers his opponent presents. The Georgian is a heat-seeking missile of a wrestler, who grapples with great intensity and always seems to beat his opponent to the next spot. Even if the initial shot is defended, Dvalishvili does not mind grinding his opponent along the fence and chaining shots. His resilience and cardio – best displayed in his comeback effort against Marlon Moraes – makes him a miserable opponent to face, and he often melts his opponents in his best performances.
What to Look For in the Fight: Dvalishvili is going to shoot for takedowns, and it's up to Aldo to stuff them and punish the Georgian. However, Aldo can't overcommit, because Dvalishvili's wrestling is always there to protect him. Aldo is going to get pushed cardio-wise if he can't deter Dvalishvili's attack with his own striking and footwork, and either man is going to be hard-pressed to put the other man away early without minding their p's and q's.
This story first published at UFC.com.