UFC 304 will have 2 title fights, including Edwards vs. Muhammad

UFC 304 will have 2 title fights, including Edwards vs. Muhammad

Dana White announced the main card Thursday for UFC 304 in Manchester, England, at the Co-op Live on July 27. The headliner will feature undisputed welterweight champion Leon Edwards, who will defend his belt against Belal Muhammad.

In the co-main event, Tom Aspinall will put his interim heavyweight championship on the line against Curtis ‘Razor’ Blaydes.

Paddy Pimblett will take on Bobby ‘King’ Green in a lightweight scrap, while Arnold Allen and Giga Chikadze will collide in a featherweight contest. Finally, in a flyweight tilt, Muhammad Mokaev will face Manuel Kape.

The 32-year-old Edwards (22-3-0-1 MMA, 14-2-0-1 UFC) hasn’t tasted defeat in 8.5 years since he dropped a unanimous decision against Kamaru Usman at UFC Orlando in December of 2015. He’s 12-0 with no-contest during that span.

Edwards will be trying to successfully defend his strap for the third time. After winning the belt from Usman via fifth-round knockout (head kick) at UFC 278, he beat Usman again by majority decision at UFC 286 in London in March of 2023. Then this past December, Edwards dominated Colby Covington in a lopsided UD victory.

The 35-year-old Muhammad (23-5-0-1 MMA, 14-5-0-1 UFC) is finally getting the title shot he’s earned in this spot. ‘Remember The Name’ is 9-0 with one no-contest in his last 10 bouts dating back to April of 2019. During this stretch, Muhammad has beaten the likes of Gilbert Burns, Sean Brady, Vicente Luque, Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson and Demian Maia.

The lone blemish for both Edwards and Muhammad during their current surges came when they faced each other in the main event of UFC Vegas 21 at the APEX on March 13 of 2021.

Due to COVID cancelling his scheduled bouts against Tyron Woodley and Khamzat Chimaev, Edwards had been out of the Octagon for 20 months since winning a five-round UD over Rafael dos Anjos at UFC San Antonio on July 20 of 2019. ‘Rocky’ won Round 1 against Muhammad, but an accidental eye poke from Edwards rendered Muhammad unable to continue 18 seconds into Round 2.

Therefore, the fight was ruled a no-contest.

Late in the afternoon on May 16, DraftKings opened Edwards as a -270 favorite. In the next hour, adjustments were made to move the champion from -270 to -285 to -298. However, just before midnight, the number dropped to -270.

As of early Saturday afternoon, DraftKings had Edwards at -245, leaving Muhammad as a +200 underdog. Caesars opened its odds late Saturday morning with Edwards at -250 and Muhammad as a +205 underdog.

DraftKings opened the 31-year-old Aspinall (14-3 MMA, 7-1 UFC) as a -198 ‘chalk’ vs. Blaydes, but the number moved to -238 several hours later. That’s where it remained early Saturday afternoon, with Blaydes offering his backers a +195 return. Just like its odds for Edwards-Muhammad, Caesars has Aspinall as a -250 favorite with Blaydes at +205 on the comeback.

In eight UFC appearances, Aspinall owns six first-round finishes, including five knockouts and one submission. Those victims include Jake Collier (45 seconds), Alan Baudot (95 seconds), Serghei Spivac (150 seconds), Alexander Volkov (3:45), Marcin Tybura (73 seconds) and Sergei Pavlovich (69 seconds). Volkov is the one who didn’t get KO’d, losing via armbar submission.

Aspinall’s second-round submission win over Andrei Arlovski on Feb. 20 of 2021 represents his only UFC contest that went further than the 3:45 mark of the opening stanza against Volkov.

The lone blemish on Aspinall’s UFC resume came when he met Blaydes in the UFC London headliner on July 23 of 2022. Just 15 seconds into the bout, the referee called off the fight after Aspinall blew his knee out.

The only ‘legitimate’ loss on Aspinall’s entire resume came in June of 2015 when he was only 22 and lost to Stuart Austin via submission (heel hook) with 61 seconds remaining in Round 2. The only other defeat came in May of 2016 when he was disqualified for an illegal downward elbow.

The 33-year-old Blaydes (18-4-0-1, 13-4-0-1 UFC) would/should own a 14-4 record in the UFC, but one of his wins was ruled a no-contest for testing positive for marijuana (which is no longer considered a performance enhancer) back in 2017. All four of his losses have come by KOs against Francis Ngannou (twice), Derrick Lewis and Pavlovich, who beat Blaydes by first-round KO on April 22 of 2023.

Blaydes bounced back from the loss to Pavlovich at UFC 299 in Miami nine weeks ago, handing Jailton Almeida his first UFC loss by second-round KO. He owns other notable career wins over the likes of Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Volkov, Junior dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, Justin Willis and Mark Hunt.

Blaydes owns 13 of his career wins by KOs and five from the judges in decisions. As for Aspinall, he has 11 career KO wins and three submissions. The Salford, England, native has won Performance of the Night bonuses in six of his seven UFC victories.

PREDICTION: There aren’t any prop bets available yet, but I like Aspinall to beat Blaydes by first-round KO. I hope we’re able to get an even-money price for that prop, but I doubt it. I would probably bet it at -140 odds or cheaper, though.

DraftKings opened Green (32-15-1-1 MMA, 13-10-1-1 UFC) as a -192 favorite on Thursday and the number hasn’t moved. Pimblett (21-3 MMA, 5-0 UFC) is a +160 underdog. Meanwhile, Caesars has Green installed as a -190 ‘chalk,’ leaving ‘Paddy The Baddy’ as a +160 ‘dog.

Green is ranked #15 in the lightweight loop after going 3-1 in his last four scraps, including a blowout UD win over Jim Miller at UFC 300 last month. He garnered POTN bonuses in his two other wins, a third-round submission of Tony Ferguson at UFC 291 and a 33-second KO victory vs. Grant Dawson in the UFC Vegas 80 main event.

Green’s only defeat in his last four contests came in a first-round KO loss to Jalin Turner, who had taken the fight on short notice when Dan Hooker pulled out due to a broken arm. Green’s most notable career scalps have come over James Krause, Pat Healy, Josh Thomson, Lando Vannata, Al Iaquinta and Nasrat Haqparast.

However, he’s faced many of the world’s top 155ers, albeit in losing efforts. Some of those names include Islam Makhachev, Dustin Poirier, Rafael Fiziev and Edson Barboza.

Pimblett is 5-0 in the UFC, but Green will represent a big step up in competition. The 29-year-old Liverpool product rose to stardom with three POTN bonuses in his first three Octagon appearances. Along with his teammate ‘Meatball’ Molly McCann, signing a contract with Barstool Sports and becoming pals with Dave Portnoy certainly assisted Pimblett’s boom in popularity.

(Side Note: McCann will face Bruna Brasil in a strawweight showdown on the UFC 304 Prelims.)

Pimblett has settled for UD wins over Jared Gordon and Ferguson in his last two fights, but the victory over Gordon was extremely controversial. In fact, according to MMADecisions, 11 media members scored the bout 30-27 for Gordon and 12 others had it 29-28 in Gordon’s favor. Only one of the 24 media members had it for Pimblett by a 29-28 score, and that was Dan Urban of Couchside Judges.

DraftKings has Kape listed as a -130 favorite vs. Mokaev (+110), while Allen is a -218 ‘chalk’ vs. Chikadze (+180).