The Legend of Kamaru Usman grows at UFC 258
The Legend of Kamaru Usman Grows at UFC 258
Live from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, UFC 258 was all about the main event collision for the Welterweight title between the champion Kamaru Usman (18-1) and the hottest fighter in the division, Gilbert Burns (19-4).
By night’s end, the Nigerian Nightmare proved that he’s just on a different level than his competition. His 13-consecutive wins in the division, the most ever, back up that claim.
Burns scored a big knockdown in the first minute of the fight, but the latter rounds were all Usman until the TKO-finish early in the third.
“We started together,” Usman said after the fight about his opponent and former training partner, applauding what he accomplished leading up to this fight.
“But […] I’m the varsity guy,” Usman went on to say. “When you get in here, it’s a different ballgame. I’m a whole different savage.”
It is a testament to Usman’s greatness that he withstood Burns’ best shot and still finished him off in just over ten minutes.
The jab of Usman became a significant problem for Burns in round two. After dropping him with a combination of straights, Usman really let the hands go, creating several near-finishes.
Again, hats off to Gilbert Burns for earning this title shot. If he maintains his status as welterweight elite, who’s to say they won’t meet again?
As for now, with new contenders few and far between, Usman’s attention is on putting away Jorge Masvidal once and for all.
The Future Put on Hold
The co-main event featured Alex Grasso (13-3) crushing the momentum of Maycee “The Future” Barber (8-2).
In a tightly contested bout, Grasso was the more convincing fighter. She landed with more consistency in the first two rounds, but also displayed great improvements in her wrestling and grappling against the cage.
Barber’s striking was impressive at times, mostly in the third round where she found her range. But it was not enough to sway the judges as Grasso earned 29-28 scores from all three judges, winning the fight unanimously.
Grasso is undefeated since moving up from the strawweight division where she suffered all three of her career losses. A few more impressive showings and she could earn a shot at the flyweight title.
Barber suffered her second consecutive loss, taking the 22-year-old out of contention for her dream of becoming the youngest UFC Champion. But her future is still bright. These defeats may very well be the experiences that shape her into one of the greats.
In the middleweight division, Kelvin Gastelum (17-6, 1NC) earned his first victory in three years against Ian Heinisch (14-4) via unanimous decision.
It was a great return-to-form outing for Gastelum who’s last three fights were losses against the division’s upper echelon.
He was emotional and appreciative of the moment after the fight, surely hoping to scale the mountain once again.
The pay-per-view opened with an incredible come from behind submission win from Julian Marquez (8-2) against Maki Pitolo (13-8).
This middleweight clash was very likely to be awarded to Pitolo on the scorecards, but Marquez applied a decisive anaconda choke in the fight’s final minutes that earned him the victory.
Pitolo has now dropped to 1-4 in his UFC career, while Marquez secured his first in three tries.
Finally, Ricky Simon (18-3) picked apart veteran Brian Kelleher (22-12) en route to a unanimous victory three rounds to none.
Simon was the better featherweight in this matchup, scoring takedowns early and often, and laying in on a nasty gash above Kelleher’s eyebrow.
Our attention now shifts to the next PPV event, being UFC 259 where Israel Adesanya (20-0) squares off against Jan Blachowicz (27-8) in a champion versus champion affair Saturday, March 6.