One week after hosting a main card with three title fights, the UFC is back at the UFC APEX for a Fight Night card with much less star power. However, cards that lack star power on paper can often turn into highly entertaining events. The card is headlined by a welterweight fight between Leon Edwards and Belal Muhammad, and Edwards is expected to be in the welterweight title picture if he is able to win.
Below, we preview the UFC Fight Night: Edwards vs. Muhammad main event and examine some of the UFC betting offerings for the event by DraftKings Sportsbook. The main card gets underway at 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturday.
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Notable DraftKings Sportsbook betting odds
- Leon Edwards by Decision (+100)
- Leon Edwards by KO, TKO or DQ (+350)
- Belal Muhammad by Decision (+350)
- Belal Muhammad by KO, TKO or DQ (+650)
- Leon Edwards by Submission (+1200)
- Belal Muhammad by Submission (+1600)
Leon Edwards vs. Belal Muhammad
Neither of these fighters have been big finishers. In 24 combined UFC fights, Edwards and Muhammad have combined for just five wins by finish. Both of these fighters have also been difficult to finish. Edwards has never been finished in 21 professional fights, while Muhammad has been finished only once in his 21 fights. Given the tendency of both Edwards and Muhammad to go to decision, we could be in for a lengthy fight, which is reflected in the DraftKings Sportsbook betting odds of -200 for To Go the Distance: Yes. The most likely outcome of this fight is easily Leon Edwards by Decision at +100.
However, there are a few factors to note for this fight that could perhaps increase the chances of seeing a finish on either side. For one, this is a five-round fight rather than the standard three-round fight, so there is an extra 10 minutes available for either Edwards or Muhammad to register a finish. The fight is also taking place in the smaller cage at the UFC APEX, which makes distance management more challenging and can increase collisions.
Edwards, who is a strong -265 favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook, has more experience in five-round fights. Two of Edwards’ last three UFC fights have been five-rounders, while this is Muhammad’s first five-round fight. Edwards has fought better competition and this fight represents a huge step up in competition for Muhammad.
In Edwards’ most recent fight against Rafael dos Anjos, he displayed impressive short-range elbows from the clinch, which he used to counter pressure. Edwards landed 12 of 14 significant strike attempts from the clinch in the fight, many of which were short elbows. Edwards could deploy a similar tactic against Muhammad, who also comes forward with pressure, and end up winning the fight in a similar manner to how he beat RDA.
That said, there is some uncertainty surrounding Edwards for this fight that could close the gap. Edwards has not fought since July 2019, while Muhammad just fought last month at UFC 258 and has fought three times since Edwards last fought, registering over 40 minutes of octagon time in those fights. Ring rust can affect fighters, and Muhammad will have dramatically more octagon time recently. Since the start of 2020, Muhammad has 30 minutes of octagon time compared to zero for Edwards.
Edwards is also reportedly coming off a severe case of COVID-19 which caused him to pull out of a fight in December. According to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Edwards’ case of COVID-19 was so severe that he couldn’t train at all and lost 12 pounds in four days. COVID-19 can affect the lungs and the wind of athletes, which is notable for a five-round fight. It’s not impossible that Edwards’ stamina dissolves in the later rounds due to the layoff combined with his bout with COVID-19.
Muhammad also had COVID-19 back in December, but the case was apparently not as severe as Edwards’ and Muhammad looked strong in his fight last month, launching a lot of volume and winning every round on the scorecards. Muhammad was constantly pressing forward with pressure and feints, with the pressure allowing him to land a lot of significant striking volume and the feints helping him evade significant strikes. An excellent 75% of the significant strikes thrown at Muhammad did not land in the fight, an elite rate for significant strike defense. Muhammad landed nearly nine significant strikes per minute, attempted 10 total takedowns and basically did not take a break during the fight.
Edwards’ lack of activity combined with his reportedly severe case of COVID-19 makes this fight somewhat unpredictable, because there’s some degree of uncertainty as to how his stamina will hold up as the fight wears on. Muhammad has also never fought in a five-round fight before, so that adds another element of uncertainty. Taking this fight to be finished at +150 (To Go the Distance: No) gives plus odds and allows flexibility with the winner, as we don’t have to correctly predict who will win, we just have to be right that someone finishes the fight within 25 minutes. This gives us margin for error if Edwards comes out looking poor due to the long layoff and his bout with COVID-19, or if the big step up in competition is too much for Muhammad. The fight taking place in the smaller cage at the UFC APEX is also a plus for a finish, because there is less space to manage distance.
If DraftKings Sportsbook bettors buy into ring rust combined with COVID-19 potentially impacting Edwards, Muhammad as an underdog bet at +215 on the moneyline is a consideration. It’s very possible Muhammad enters this fight in better condition and is able to take over in the later rounds if Edwards’ gas tank goes.
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