Kamaru Usman cements his position as UFC welterweight king, KOs Gilbert Burns in third round

Kamaru Usman stamped his authority on the UFC welterweight division after earning a stoppage victory over former Sanford MMA teammate Gilbert Burns in the main event of UFC 258.

“The Nigerian Nightmare” had to overcome to adversity to do it. Burns blitzed Usman in the early stages of the contest, buzzing the UFC welterweight champion with an overhand right and a string of follow-up punches clearly had him hurt. However, Usman was able to recover and see out what was a tumultuous opening stanza.

Usman then resumed control of this contest in the second round thanks to a new wrinkle of his developing striking game – a piston-like jab.

Not only did that jab repel Burns in his attempts to close the distance to rush Usman once more, the latter’s quick and accurate lead hand was enough to floor – and hurt – Burns and you could see the fight’s momentum shift in the favour of Usman.

Usman started to land more strikes and Burns looked like he was wilting by the end of the second round and the third followed in a similar fashion.

Burns was floored with a jab once again. This time, Usman was more than happy to engage with world champion Brazilian Jiu Jitsu player Burns on the ground to deliver some powerful punches to the head.

Referee Herb Dean gave Burns opportunity to recover and improve his position after some visibly indecisive movements. One more shot from Usman’s left hand was enough for Dean to intervene.

Elsewhere on the UFC 258 main card, Alessa Grasso picked up a big victory over Maycee Barber in the night’s co-main event.

Mexico’s Grasso looked to have the edge on the feet, in the clinch and down on the mat over the highly-touted Barber. Barber was making her first Octagon appearance since her loss to Roxanne Modafferi and the knee injury she picked up in that fight last year.

Barber seemed to gain a second wind in the final round, but Grasso continued to look comfortable wherever the contest went and she was rightly awarded the unanimous decision victory.

Kelvin Gastelum picked up his first win since 12 May, 2018 with a unanimous decision victory over Ian Heinisch.

The Ultimate Fighter season 17 winner leaned on his grappling experience against a fellow wrestler, scoring multiple takedowns, expertly defending submission attempts and wracking up points on the judges’ scorecards with clever positioning in the clinch and on the ground.

Gastelum was in trouble on a few occasions in the fight, including a couple of kimuras and a third-round rear-naked choke attempt, but Gastelum always looked in control to snap his three-fight losing run.

Ricky Simon is another fighter who deferred to his wrestling abilities to get the win at UFC 258, taking the unanimous decision victory over Brian Kelleher.

Kellher had little room to breathe as Simon immediately sought after the takedown, but the latter was also effective in his striking – most notably landing a sharp elbow which opened a nasty cut by his right eye.

Simon continued to compete in this bout on his terms. If he wanted a takedown, he’ll go for one. If he wanted to land strikes at range, he threw them (including two front kicks to the face).

Kelleher had no answers to the questions posed by Simon, who extended his winning streak to three after getting the nod from all three judges.

In the opening fight of the UFC 258 main card, Julian Marquez and Maki Pitolo fought out a gritty, back-and-forth battle that looked like it was going to the scorecards until Marquez pulled out a nasty anaconda choke with less than a minute remaining of the final round.

Pitolo surprised both Marquez and the UFC commentators by looking to grapple with Marquez and that tactic proved successful to begin with. The Hawaiian managed to secure the majority of takedowns he went after, while damaging Marquez down on the floor when they got there with ground and pound.

Marquez hung in there, though. Glory MMA product Marquez managed to get back to his feet in the third round after getting taken down and Simon threatening with a rear-naked choke. Marquez through caution to the wind and landed punches and a big knee before snatching Pitolo’s neck for a guillotine choke. He then transition that to an anaconda, forcing Pitolo to submit.

 

UFC 258: Usman vs. Burns full results

Welterweight Championship: Kamaru Usman (c) def. Gilbert Burns by TKO (punches) at 0:34 of round three
Women’s Flyweight: Alexa Grasso def. Maycee Barber by unanimous decision after three rounds
Middleweight: Kelvin Gastelum def. Ian Heinisch by unanimous decision after three rounds
Featherweight: Ricky Simon def. Brian Kelleher by unanimous decision after three rounds
Middleweight: Julian Marquez def. Maki Pitolo by submission (anaconda choke) at 4:17 of round three
Middleweight: Anthony Hernandez def. Rodolfo Vieira by submission (guillotine choke) at 1:53 of round two
Welterweight: Belal Muhammad def. Dhiego Lima by unanimous decision after three rounds
Women’s Strawweight: Polyana Viana def. Mallory Martin by submission (armbar) at 3:18 of round one
Catchweight: Chris Gutiérrez def. Andre Ewell by unanimous decision after three rounds
Welterweight: Gabriel Green def. Philip Rowe by unanimous decision after three rounds