Leon Edwards Favored to Retain Welterweight Title at UFC 296: Odds and Predictions

The final UFC card of the year will take place on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena, Nevada. Leon Edwards will defend his welterweight title against Colby Covington, while Alexandre Pantoja will take on Brandon Royval to defend his recently-won flyweight title.

Covington has scored wins against notable fighters such as Jorge Masvidal, Tyron Woodley, and Robbie Lawler, but the real test came against Rafael dos Anjos. Covington lost to top contender Kamaru Usman twice, and despite his endurance and fighting ability, he has yet to prove himself against top contenders. On the other hand, Edwards’ striking has evolved as his shocking title win, and his recent form and momentum make him an obvious choice to walk away with his welterweight title.

In the flyweight title bout, this is a rematch from August 2021 when Pantoja submitted Royval. Although Royval has shown considerable improvement since then, especially in his well-roundedness, Pantoja appears to be coming into this rematch more casually confident and dangerous. He has gone toe-to-toe with heavy hitters like Deiveson Figueiredo without being stopped. Pantoja has a clear advantage in jiu-jitsu, while Royval has power, it’s unlikely that he can pull off the win against the more experienced Pantoja.

In the heavyweight division, Rakhmonov, known to establish himself as a top force, is a heavy favorite. His ability to make a come back and emerge victorious in every fight makes him a formidable opponent. He is expected to overcome Thompson while both fighters have the ability to end things quickly.

The lightweights’ bout between Tony Ferguson and Paddy Pimblett, Pimblett, dubbed as “The Baddy,” has brought a lot of attention to the division. Ferguson, however, has a six-fight losing streak and is the underdog. Pimblett, on the other hand, hasn’t faced the same level of competition as Ferguson, who at one point was one of the best lightweights. It’s hard to visualize Ferguson overcoming Pimblett’s energy. Pimblett may have a limited future in the lightweight division, but Ferguson seems to be a shell of himself at this time. Pimblett will likely gain favor with the judges in the end.