/UFC 268 predictions — Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington 2: Fight card, expert picks, prelims, odds – CBS Sports

UFC 268 predictions — Kamaru Usman vs. Colby Covington 2: Fight card, expert picks, prelims, odds – CBS Sports


The UFC returns to New York City on Saturday night for a UFC 268 card headlined by one of the most anticipated fights of the year. Headlining the action from Madison Square Garden is a welterweight title rematch between champion Kamaru Usman and rival Colby Covington.

Usman won the first meeting between the pair at UFC 245 in December 2019, scoring a fifth-round TKO. The fight was filled with back-and-forth action before Usman finally broke Covington down, scoring multiple knockdowns and finally forcing the referee to step in with just 50 seconds left in the bout. Covington has since claimed a conspiracy against him involving the referee cheating him out of a victory with the “quick stoppage.”

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Plus, the women’s strawweight title is on the line once more when champion Rose Namajunas faces off with Weili Zhang in a rematch from April. Namajunas stunned many — including herself — with a vicious first-round knockout to secure her second reign as champion — the first woman to ever accomplish that feat in UFC. Now, Zhang, who saw her 20-fight win streak end, looks to avenge just the second loss of her career.

With so much happening on Saturday night, let’s take a closer look at the full fight card with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before we get to our staff predictions and picks for the PPV portion of the festivities.

UFC 268 fight card, odds

  • Kamaru Usman (c) -310 vs. Colby Covington +250, welterweight championship
  • Weili Zhang -125 vs. Rose Namajunas (c) +105, women’s strawweight championship
  • Marlon Vera -160 vs. Frankie Edgar +135, bantamweight
  • Shane Burgos -195 vs. Billy Quarantillo +165, featherweight
  • Justin Gaethje -210 vs. Michael Chandler +175, lightweight
  • Alex Pereira -260 vs. Andreas Michailids +210, middleweight
  • Bobby Green -190 vs. Al Iaquinta +160, lightweight
  • Phil Hawes -330 vs. Chris Curtis +260, middleweight
  • Nassourdine Imavov -120 vs. Edmen Shahbazyan +100, middleweight
  • Ian Garry -400 vs. Jordan Williams +310, welterweight
  • Gian Villante -130 vs. Chris Barnett +110, heavyweight
  • Dustin Jacoby -380 vs. John Allan +300, light heavyweight
  • Melsik Baghdasaryan -400 vs. Bruno Souza +310, featherweight
  • Ode Osbourne -190 vs. CJ Vergara +160, flyweight

With such a massive main event on tap, the crew at CBS Sports went ahead with predictions and picks for the main card. Here are your pick makers: Brent Brookhouse (Combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (Combat sports writer, co-host of “Morning Kombat”), Matthew Coca (producer), Jack Crosby (editor), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Wise (senior editor).

UFC 268 picks, predictions

Usman (c) vs. Covington Usman Usman Usman Usman Usman Usman
Namajunas (c) vs. Zhang Zhang Zhang Namajunas Namajunas Namajunas Zhang
Vera vs. Edgar Vera Vera Edgar Vera Edgar Vera
Burgos vs. Quarantillo Burgos Quarantillo Burgos Quarantillo Quarantillo Burgos
Gaethje vs. Chandler Gaethje Gaethje Gaethje Chandler Gaethje Gaethje
Records to date (2021) 37-18 37-18 37-18 37-18 36-19 32-23

Campbell on why Usman will win: For as close as their first fight was in 2019, with Usman scoring a fifth-round TKO, the champion has grown leaps and bounds from a striking perspective in the aftermath. His new relationship with trainer Trevor Wittman has allowed Usman to prosper, fueling stoppage wins over Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal in their own rematch. Covington has a great motor and is capable of holding his own in certain spots. But unless he finds uncommon success in holding Usman down, the champion is too good to do anything but stop him sooner. 

Brookhouse on why Usman will win: Usman has done nothing but grow as a fighter in his three outings since the first meeting with Covington. He can now win a fight through a grinding grappling-first approach that sets up his striking or through being a technical and powerful striker who has the wrestling game in his back pocket. Since losing to Usman, Covington has fought once, beating up a faded Tyron Woodley. Covington is still dangerous, with a pressure fighting style that he executes as well as anyone in the sport. But his power isn’t a great asset and if he was getting hurt by Usman in 2019, it’s only going to be worse against the new and improved version of the champion. I’m expecting this to be a surprisingly quick and dominant performance from Usman.

Campbell on why Zhang will win: The one drawback of Namajunas’ first-round knockout of Zhang via thunderous head kick in their first meeting was that we were never able to properly see just how well these two match up against one other and which fighter might come out with the edge. Like Namajunas’ title rematch with former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, one has to expect a longer and more competitive rematch this time. The fact that Zhang has worked so closely throughout training camp with Henry Cejudo should go a long way in helping her time her takedown attempts in hope of a more balanced effort. If Zhang can neutralize Namajunas’ kickboxing by landing some power shots of her own and mixing in control time on top, a trilogy bout between these two elite strawweights might be in the cards. 

Brookhouse on why Vera will win: Edgar has enjoyed a great career but the new life he hoped to find at 135 pounds has not really materialized. Edgar’s speed and movement are both compromised by his age and the fact that bantamweight is a much faster division in general. Vera is a beatable fighter, yes, but he’s dangerous in the striking and grappling end of things, meaning there’s no clear or easy path to victory for Edgar. Instead, Vera should be able to break down Edgar for the stoppage or to take a reasonably clear decision.

Campbell on why Gaethje will win: For as long as this one lasts, the expectations should be nothing but violence and dramatic turns of momentum. Even with a potential title shot at stake, neither of these two warriors should be expected to do anything but advance forward. Chandler came as close as one can to winning the vacant title left behind by a retired Khabib Nurmagomedov when he badly hurt Charles Oliveira before being stopped shortly after. Gaethje is not only more durable should this become the war most expect it to be, he might also be the more damaging striker between the two.

Wise on why Gaethje will win: The more you look at this fight, the harder it is to find a path to victory for Chandler. Gaethje is just better than him in every category, including destructive power and iron chin. Unless Chandler is able to bait out the old Gaethje, who got reckless in big moments once rocked, expect “the Highlight” to pick up another one to kick off this wild PPV event in New York City. 

Who wins Usman vs. Covington 2? And what other picks do you need to see for a parlay with a payout of better than 8/1 ? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed top picks on UFC 268, all from the insider who’s up nearly $9,200 on MMA picks in the past year, and find out.

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