UFC 296: Edwards vs. Covington Main Card Betting Preview & Odds

15 Dec 23
News - UFC
UFC 296: Edwards vs. Covington Main Card Betting Preview & Odds

The UFC 296 main card will only have four fights, but oh, what a doozy of a quartet it will be. The slate features two championship bouts, including the main event pitting welterweight champ Leon Edwards against No. 3 contender and former interim champ Colby Covington. The champ comes in as a slight moneylinefavorite on most UFC betting sites and betting apps.


  • Ferguson and Thompson are in tough against up-and-comers
  • Champ Leon Edwards looks to hold onto his welterweight belt
  • The flyweight belt will stay with the well-rounded Alexandre Pantoja

UFC 296: Leon Edwards vs. Colby Covington Main Card Betting Odds - December 16th

Leon Edwards won’t be the only guy defending his strap on Saturday night. Flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja will scrap No. 3 contender Brandon Royval. We will also see another ranked welterweight bout between No. 5 Shavkat Rakhmonov and No. 6 Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. To start the card out, UFC legend Tony Ferguson will look to get back in the win column for the first time in a while against Paddy Pimblett in an unranked but intriguing lightweight bout. All odds provided by Sports Interaction.

(C) Leon Edwards vs. No. 3 Colby Covington Welterweight Championship Main Event Bout Odds

FighterMoneylineWin by KO/TKO/DQWin by SubmissionWin by DecisionTotal Rounds
Leon Edwards-159+275+1,400+150O4.5 (-200)
Colby Covington+130+700+1,400+225U4.5 (+150)

For the first time since March of 2022, Colby Covington (17-3) will take the stage for the UFC, but he will be in tough against the reigning welterweight champ Leon Edwards (21-3 1 NC). Covington’s last fight was a solid decision win over the aging Jorge Masvidal. Edwards’ last time out came in March, when he beat former champ Kamaru Usman for the second straight time.

Covington kind of has everything going against him here. Edwards is younger, taller, and longer. Covington also hasn’t fought in forever, he hasn’t beaten anyone on the current UFC welterweight top 15, and Edwards just beat a guy (Usman) who fights a very similar style to Chaos quite soundly. What stuck out from the second Usman fight was Edwards’ determination and ability to get up expeditiously the few times he was taken down. 

Covington will probably give Edwards even more volume in terms of takedowns, but Edwards has never been one to tire. When it’s on the feet, this won’t be much of a contest. Edwards is a much more technical and skilled kick-boxer, and he’s got a more diverse arsenal as well. Take the value on Edwards to win by decision here at +150 odds, as nine of his past 12 wins have come via the judges.

(C) Alexandre Pantoja vs. No. 3 Brandon Royval Flyweight Co-Main Event Bout Odds

FighterMoneylineWin by KO/TKO/DQWin by SubmissionWin by DecisionTotal Rounds
Alexandre Pantoja-189+400+125+650O2.5 (+115)
Brandon Royval+155+300+550+900U2.5 (-149)

In the feisty co-main event, flyweight champ Alexandre Pantoja (26-5) will square off with the wild and wacky Brandon Royval (15-6). Royval could get a surprise win here, but we expect this one to go similarly to the way it went the last time these two fought in 2021, when Pantoja got the finish via rear-naked choke.

Royval is a little too sloppy to hang with Pantoja, who has only gotten better since the last time they met. The Brazilian is also the superior wrestler on the mat, so he’ll likely have the advantage everywhere but the cage, where Royval has been known to thrive. Royval always has a chance, but we expect Pantoja to take care of business. He’s a little too versatile for a method of victory bet, so stick with the moneyline even at -189 odds.

No. 5 Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. No. 6 Stephen Thompson Welterweight Bout Odds

FighterMoneylineWin by KO/TKO/DQWin by SubmissionWin by DecisionTotal Rounds
Shavkat Rakhmonov-667+250+125+250O1.5 (-175)
Stephen Thompson+460+1,200+3,800+800U1.5 (+135)

Everyone who knows UFC would love to see the 40-year-old Stephen Thompson (17-6-1) win this one, but Wonderboy didn’t pick a great fight for himself here against the undefeated 29-year-old Shavkat Rakhmonov (17-0). Thompson can still strike with the best of them, but he’s never figured out the whole takedown defense thing or the skills needed to get up afterwards. Rakhmonov should be able to get him down and keep him there. 

He’s offering good value at +125 to win by submission, but the best bet here is Rakhmonov at +250 odds to win via decision: Thompson has only been finished once in his career, and it wasn’t a submission. It’s also worth noting that 63 percent of UFC fighters that are 5+ years younger than their opponents have won.

Tony Ferguson vs. Paddy Pimblett Lightweight Bout Odds

FighterMoneylineWin by KO/TKO/DQWin by SubmissionWin by DecisionTotal Rounds
Tony Ferguson+250+600+1,200+700O2.5 (-105)
Paddy Pimblett-323+275+225+200U2.5 (-120)

Similar to the Wonderboy fight, who wouldn’t love to see Tony Ferguson (25-9) win this one as a sort of UFC swan song? Unfortunately, the less-than-likable up-and-coming scouser Paddy Pimblett (20-3) is unlikely to oblige the UFC faithful. Ferguson has looked worse with every passing fight during this ghastly six-fight losing streak.

One would hope that Ferguson can just make it to the bell and keep it competitive, but it’s hard to see El Cucuy actually getting a win here. We’d still throw a half a unit on Ferguson to win by knockout at +600 for old time’s sake, though. The smart money is probably on Pimblett by submission at +225 considering three of his last five wins have come that way and ditto for Ferguson’s last two defeats.

Alex is a recent graduate of Ryerson's Sport Media program in 2019 and has been contributing to BettingTop10 since 2020. He has worked in the field of sports and sports betting for several years, including writing for theScore and daily fantasy sports website FantasyPros as one of their lead NBA news writers. A dedicated sports fan and experienced sports bettor, Alex has the knowledge to provide you with the best betting advice and the sneakiest props no matter what the sport may be.