UFC 258: Usman vs Burns Predictions & Results

Big ol’ roidy, Marty Snoozeman, returns to defend his title against former camp mate, Gilbert Burns. With the potential to be a barn burner, knowing Usman however, expect a five-round insomnia remedy.

UFC 258: Usman vs Burns Predictions & Results

Seven UFC PPV events on, Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns finally meet after their initial scheduling back in July 2020. Full recoveries for Greg Jones (COVID) and Usman (various injuries) mean the two former Henri Hooft students can finally duel over Welterweight gold. While we are on the subject of Hooft, it is common that the challenger moves from a shared camp, to prepare for their title shot. Reversing the script, Usman opted to leave Hooft himself and instead enlist the tutelage of popular coach, Trevor Wittman, out in Denver. With wild figures of 200 or 300 rounds shared between the two ex-teammates, their shared knowledge of each other provides an interesting ‘wow factor’ that is often amiss in the build-up to Usman fights.

Sex sells – or so Dana believes, if he is to bump Maycee Barber and Alexa Grasso to the privileged ‘co-main event’ status. While the Women’s Flyweight fight is probably the most significant fight on the card in terms of rankings (outside of the main), we are still talking about Women’s Flyweight. Moob man, Kelvin Gastelum, was a feared Middleweight destroyer not so long ago. Even on a three-fight slide, Gastelum and Ian Heinisch’s Middleweight brawl is certainly more appealing to the casual audience? Christ, I’m more interested in the opener between Gillian Robertson and Miranda Maverick – Maverick’s first real test in the UFC after a sparkling career in Invicta.

Likely never to grace the main/co-main event photo bragging rights, I thought I’d give prelims warrior, Gillian Robertson, a bit of limelight.

Main Event

Welterweight (170)

Welterweight Championship

Kamaru Usman (17-1) vs Gilbert Burns (19-3)

Almost every diehard MMA fan has a begrudging respect for Kamaru Usman. While his failed attempts to create a ‘bad boy’ persona leaves him often looking like a complete dickhead, he still represents one of the finest mixed martial artists in the entire world. Consistently improving his stand-up, an immensely powerful wrestler, and a gas tank that could give Johnny Sins a run for his money – Usman is P4P quality. Against Masvidal, Usman patiently defended the first round blitz from his late-notice replacement before beginning to pick his own counter shots. Two years ago, Usman may have been pressured into shooting for a risky takedown. Nowadays, Usman 2.0 possesses the boxing ability to competently evade danger and eventually spy openings for counter strikes. Although too slow to transition into a feared counter striker, Usman’s hands carry underrated power and boy does it carry late (ask Colby).

By rounding out his game, Usman has effectively sharpened his most effective offensive tools. As opponents are forced to keep their guard up to protect their chin, Usman opens a direct path to his opponent’s hips and eventually the mat. The Nebraskan Nightmare does not regularly shoot for takedowns in the middle of the octagon, however. Instead, Usman prefers to back opponents against the cage and rest upon them. Utterly dominant, Usman completely controls affairs with beautiful wrist control and continually working underhooks. After tiring his foe, Usman can land hurtful elbows and body shots that cause clear distress. It is a shame then, that Usman often chooses the safe option to victory. While coasting to decision victories is the guaranteed path to defending the belt, earning a paycheck and leaving the sport with all faculties intact – it is so damn boring to watch. Justin Gaethje could lose six fights on the bounce from now, and his bouts would still intrigue me far more than an Usman five-round masterclass at Welterweight.

It is still difficult to place a finger on just how good, Gilbert Burns, actually is. Burns started his UFC tenure at Lightweight and regularly killed himself trying to make weight. His highlight reel first-round loss to Dan Hooker indicated Burns’ lack of resistance at 155lbs. After moving up to Welterweight two years ago, Burns has been undefeated against decent opposition. Cleaning the scorecards against Gunnar Nelson may no longer be as attractive on your record in 2019, but a clean first-round knockout over Demian Maia and five-round beatdown of former Welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley, highlight the increasing quality produced by the Brazilian. Despite a lack of knockouts on his record, Burns carries power in his hands and almost stopped the granite chinned Tyron Woodley on a couple of occasions. Whether Burns has the power to threaten Usman is questionable – more so, whether Burns can even remain on his feet long enough to tag Usman. Taken down FIVE times by Michel Prazeres (granted, at Lightweight), and with only a 50% TDD over his UFC career, Burns is more than likely to taste the canvas. BJJ is thankfully a strong aspect of his game. One-time IBJJF champion (Gi), two-time winner of IBJFF (No-GI), and bronze medallist at ADCC (no-gi) – Burns’ grappling leaves him in a good position when he hits the mat.

Predicted Result: Usman Decision

As good as Burns’ BJJ is, and no matter how much of a threat his power has loomed since his move up to Welterweight, he still lacks the tools to stop Usman from bullying him against the fence. Usman’s boxing has tightened so much so in the shadows that during his last fight against Jorge Masvidal, he was confident enough to successfully exchange with the established counter striker. While Burns can threaten off of his back, he will struggle to find a submission with his back against the cage. Worse still, as the smaller man, Usman need not stray away from his tried and tested tactic of suffocating fighters from start to finish.

Nebraskan Nightmare, Kamaru Usman, had no trouble in defending his belt against last-minute replacement, Jorge Masvidal.

Result: Usman def. Burns // TKO (punches) Round 3 0:34

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌


Co-Main Event

Women’s Flyweight (125)

Maycee Barber (8-1) vs Alexa Grasso (12-3)

Ugh, let us just get this done shall we? Maycee Barber is a big prospect in Women’s Flyweight, mainly down to her rare ability to finish fights. In a division that lacks stoppage-inducing power, Barber offers an answer to Dana White. Moreover, her hordes of lusting social media followers boost her stock tenfold to the organisation. Sadly, Barber doesn’t carry the ‘F*** You’ one shot-power. Rather, Barber breaks opponents down with pressure boxing and blistering volume. If allowed to control the middle of the Octagon, Barber can lay down a fierce pace and keep opponent’s shelled up. When facing return fire, however, such as against Modafferi, Barber’s leaky striking defence is exposed. After a year layoff (in part due to the serious injury sustained in her last fight), the key question looms regarding Barber’s maturity. Has Barber been humbled into adopting a more defensively sound approach on the feet, or has her first L further fuelled her all-out striking blitzes?

Barber’s inability to grapple with Modaferri in large part stemmed from her early injury. At a clear handicap, Barber showed real mental resilience to battle her way to a lopsided decision. Before Modaferri, Barber has proven herself to be a bully on top. Despite her takedowns needing huge improvement, Barber can control opponents on the ground by using her size advantage and smart positioning. While Hannah Cifers isn’t exactly known for her savvy submissions, Barber commanded the BJJ brown belt for long stretches.

Alexa Grasso has unfortunately lost much of her early career hype after disappointing losses (Felice Herrig, Tatiana Suarez) and long periods of inactivity. After missing weight and losing her pivotal career fight against declining former Strawweight title challenger, Claudia Gadelha, Grasso was forced to reinvent herself at Flyweight. Smashing her Flyweight debut against Ji Yeon Kim, landing almost 50% of her significant strikes on route to a clear decision victory, Grasso’s strikes looked far meatier at the larger weight class. While Grasso can be drawn into firefights (an issue against an opponent with the power of Barber), the Mexican’s wrestling is far superior. Having competently grappled with top wrestlers, Carla Esparza and Tatiana Suarez, Grasso will no doubt have enough to prevent Barber from landing anything meaning on the mat.

Predicted Result: Grasso Decision

This is a difficult fight to call, and for all the wrong reasons. It is not a question of who is the better fighter, but rather, who has the most glaring flaw? Barber return from her terrible ACL tear is a question mark, as is her mental after several strange interviews in which Barber appears to accept no blame for her defeat to Roxanne Modafferi. Having overwhelmed weaker fighters on the roster with volume and size alone, we will find out whether the prospect has the goods to overcome a well-rounded, experienced fighter that turns up the heat in the later rounds.

roxanne-modafferi-maycee-barber-ufc-246.jpg (4004×2860)
Failing to live up to her huge pre-fight hype, Maycee Barber was humbled by everybody’s favourite nerd, Roxanne Modaferri.

Result: Grasso def. Barber // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️


Main Card

Middleweight (185)

Kelvin Gastelum (16-6) vs Ian Heinisch (14-3)

Bargain Bucket, Kelvin Gastelum, finds himself in an awkward position in his career. Having feasted on veterans for much of his early career (Jake Ellenberger, Nate Marquardt, Johny Hendricks, Tim Kennedy, and Michael Bisping), Gastelum was viewed as a powerful sniping puncher who lacked reach. Now on a three-fight slide, Gastelum has performed worse in each subsequent fight. It is starting to feel that the Gastelum who almost knocked out current Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, was just a figment of our imagination. Terribly small for the weight, stubby little Gastelum has built his career around catching opponents out with his speedy 1-2. While his wrestling base was once respected, Gastelum has looked lost on the ground in recent memory. Chris Weidman was able to overcome an early knockdown to make Gastelum look a fool on the mat four years ago. Since then, Gastelum’s ground game seems to have regressed, submitting to a Jack Hermansson heel hook in just 1:18.

Perhaps playing into Gastelum’s hands, Ian Heinisch is a man who LOVES a firefight. Despite an abysmal 19% career takedown accuracy, Heinisch often uses takedowns as a means to further his striking. Shooting for a single to drop his opponent’s guard, Heinisch keeps an opponent guessing as well as torching their gas tank. The juicy boy can fall into a pattern of pot-shotting opponents during lulls in action, but as he has matured in the octagon, Heinisch has reigned in the sloppier work. Moreover, his refusal to stop moving around the octagon will serve him well as Gastelum struggled to maintain a comfortable distance against the darting movement of Darren Till.

Predicted Result: Gastelum TKO Round 3

What a fight this could be. Gastelum has looked a shell of his former self in the past two fights, a far cry from his peak against Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya. While Heinisch loves to incorporate wrestling into his striking, he lacks the quality to get/keep down Gastelum. Moreover, while Heinisch often uses elusive footwork to stay out of range, he is far too susceptible to be dragged into short dog fights. Up close, and with Heinisch’s head firmly on the centre line, an out of sorts Gastelum can still crack an exposed chin at Middleweight.

Result: Gastelum def. Heinisch // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌


Lightweight (155)

Bobby Green (27-11-1) vs Jim Miller (32-15)

Oh Bobby, Bobby, Bobby. What a fantastic 2020 you had, despite the ending. As a long-term Bob fan, 2020 was an exciting time to be alive. All it seemingly took was a global pandemic to force Green into full discipline mode and the results were glowing. Three decisive decision victories over Clay Guida (who recently cleaned out Michael Johnson), Lando Vannata and Alan Patrick showcased Bobby’s tantalising sharp counter striking game and seriously underrated TDD. Despite dropping a close decision to Thiago Moises to close out 2020, Green still gave an excellent account of himself and found success in the guard of the incredibly talented BJJ black belt. I’ll never hop off the Bobby hype train.

In 2018, Jim Miller really should have hung up his gloves for the final time. After a three fight losing streak to some of the toughest competitors at Lightweight (Dustin Poirier, Anthony Pettis, Francisco Trinaldo – all decisions), Miller was obliterated by Dan Hooker with a humungous knee in the first round. The old dog still had some fight in him though, and has since caused two massive first-round upsets against Alex White and Roosevelt Roberts. Once the fight hits the mat, the crafty pocket rocket explodes into dangerous submissions and possesses the old man strength to squeeze the life out of his opponent.

Predicted Result: Green Decision

Green pre-2020 would have likely blown this fight based on his frequent lapses in concentration. Motivated Pandemic-Green, however, has the knowledge to keep the fight on the feet and thus away from Miller’s greatest assets. Striking superiority, and a wicked TDD, Green has the goods to cruise this affair.

Result: 🚫 FIGHT CANCELLED 🚫


Middleweight (185)

Julian Marquez (7-2) vs Maki Pitolo (13-7)

You’d be forgiven if the name Julian Marquez was completely foreign to you at this point. Having last fought in July 2018, a scrappy split decision loss, Marquez has since been forced to sit on the sidelines with a serious shoulder injury. Returning on Saturday night, Marquez will be aiming to pick up his early career form that saw him finish two prospects (that incidentally are on fire) in Darren Stewart and Phil Hawes. A powerful, rangey striker, the 6’2″ sniper jitters on his feet and looks to land powerful straight counters. Able to use his size on the mat too, Marquez is prone to gassing during prolonged grappling exchanges.

Maki Pitolo is a fighter whose record doesn’t really matter. Coconut Bombz will always enter the octagon willing to scrap on the feet. Out-classed on the feet by the more powerful Impa Kasanganay during his last fight, Pitolo will be itching to return to the green column. A wonderful chin, Pitolo is easy to hit as he drops his hands regularly in close range. Luckily for Coconut Bombz, he returns three-four punch combinations after eating a shot.

Predicted Result: Pitolo Decision

It is difficult to predict a fighter’s ability after almost two years out of the octagon. Despite two massive scalps over Phil Hawes and Darren Stewart, Marquez looked vulnerable during both fights. Moreover, Marquez can flag after the first round if pushed at a hard pace. Pitolo isn’t the shrewdest operator, but he guarantees three hard rounds of striking that will test the mettle of anyone in Middleweight.

Result: Marquez def. Pitolo // Submission (anaconda choke) Round 3 4:17

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌


Preliminary Card

Middleweight (185)

Rodolfo Vieira (7-0) vs Anthony Hernandez (7-2)

Rodolfo ‘The Black Belt Hunter’ Vieira is a former ADCC champ, five-time world BJJ champ, and undefeated in his seven fight MMA career. Vieira’s limiting factor will be his wrestling, yet so far, it has looked up to the job. On the mat, there is little to say. Vieira is a wizard and will snap up submissions if you allow him enough time. His striking defence is a bit of an issue, limited to just a high guard, but his clear game plan aims to limit his time standing.

Anthony Hernandez is a solid competitor outside of the Middleweight rankings but he will struggle to ever break the top-fifteen. Seeking to land leather above anything else, Hernandez is a limited but hearty fighter. Decent enough on the ground, Hernandez is nowhere the level necessary to survive on the mat against Vieira.

Predicted Result: Vieira Submission Round 2

Hernandez is a hearty fighter who seeks to land as many shots as possible. Constantly searching for the finish is an attractive quality in fighters, but it is reckless against a man who only seeks to take you down and search for a submission. While Vieira’s striking defence is a major issue, Hernandez’s bull-rushing striking is not ideal to keep the fight standing.

Result: Hernandez def. Vieira // Submission (guillotine choke) Round 2 1:53

Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️


Welterweight (170)

Dhiego Lima (15-7) vs Belal Muhammad (17-3)

Dhiego Lima finds himself in a rare career purple patch. On a three-fight streak against decent opposition, Lima has been lucky to find himself on the right side of split decisions against Luke Jumeau and Court McGee. Nowhere near the quality of brother, Douglas, Dhiego is still a decent distance fighter who has frequently switches stance. As a result, Lima peppers opponents with check hooks and buys himself enough time to reset his feet.

Belal Muhammad is a fighter who has worked extremely hard to get to the position he finds himself. Not blessed with the freak athleticism common in the UFC, Muhammad is a grinder who changes his approach every fight. Fighting to his opponent’s weakness, Muhammad’s well-rounded game has seen him overcome tough tests in Tim Means, Curtis Millender and Lyman Good.

Predicted Result: Muhammad Decision

Both men will never hold a belt, but the two fighters deserve their place in the roster. Unfortunately, this fight could be a bit of a snooze as Lima prefers to hook off of the back foot while Muhammad will be searching to expose Lima on the mat. Muhammad’s well-rounded kit is more likely to see him through on the scorecards.

Result: Muhammad def. Lima // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️


Women’s Strawweight (115)

Polyana Viana (11-4) vs Mallory Martin (7-3)

Polyana Viana was damn near on her way to being cut before ending her three fight slide at the end of 2020 with a first-round armbar submission over Emily Whitmire. While Whitmire and her 4-3 record don’t exactly represent the cream of the crop of Women’s Strawweight, it is at least a baby step in the correct direction for Viana. A freak athlete, Viana throws horrendously loopy shots that leave her exposed. On the mat she often finds a way to finish, but Christ, her striking is woeful – bailed out only by her power.

Mallory Martin is a workhorse who prods with her jab until she can find a way to drag her opponent to the ground. Robustly built, Martin keeps a tight guard and counters surprising well despite her short reach. Against the cage, Martin peppers knees before tripping opponents and assuming top control.

Predicted Result: Martin Decision

Viana is always a dark horse because of her freak athleticism, but Martin is far, far technically superior. Defensively sound enough to deal with Viana’s wild strikes, Martin will be able to control Viana against the cage. Viana can threaten with a couple submissions off of her back, but Martin has a dominant top game and isn’t likely to let her guard down.

Result: Viana def. Martin // Submission (armbar) Round 1 3:18

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌


Catchweight (140)

Andre Ewell (17-6) vs Chris Gutierrez (15-3-2)

Andre Ewell is a rangey striker that has only lost to the best at Bantamweight in the UFC so far. Despite his significant reach (75″), Ewell enjoys the dog fights on the inside and as such is vulnerable to absorbing damage that fatigues him (i.e. Marlon Vera and Nathaniel Wood). It is always nice to see a decent boxer in the octagon, however.

Chris Gutierrez really should have defeated Cody Durden in his last fight out. Outclassing his opponent on the feet during Rounds 2 and 3, Gutierrez’s strange decision to accept laying on his back for the entire of the first round cost him a 10-8 round. Later coming back to bite him, Gutierrez stalled his upward momentum in the Bantamweight division.

Predicted Result: Gutierrez Decision

Ewell’s reliance on the jab, with a long bladed stance, leaves his lead leg a prime target for leg kicking guru, Chris Gutierrez. While Gutierrez’s hands can be one-dimensional, and his output scattered, he is still a powerful counter puncher who can thrive during the later rounds.

Result: Gutierrez def. Ewell // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-27, 30-26)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️


Featherweight (145)

Ricky Simon (17-3) vs Brian Kelleher (22-11)

B B B B B Banger hidden away on the prelims. Madness from matchmakers but hey ho. Set your alarm clocks early for this one. Simon is a weirdly talented striker, in the sense that he is fluidly hooks off of his jab, yet also keeps his head cemented as a target for opponents to hit. On the mat, Simon is susceptible to losing dominant positions in silly circumstances, but for the most part, is an aggressive wrestler who delivers punishment from above.

Kelleher is one of those Bisping-esque fighters. A fighter who is decently well-rounded and carries surprising power that pops up from time to time, Kelleher could go on a three-fight finish streak either way. Lots of front kicks to the body drain opponents and set them up for eventual finishing hook to the head. Lacking a jab and elite athleticism, Kelleher is not hampered by lack of technique.

Predicted Result: Simon Decision

A fight on paper that Simon should walk, but due to his frequent mental farts, will end up being a close affair. Kelleher is an aggresive striker who plows forward with a front kick before head hunting with hooks. Simon’s composure in the pocket will open avenues for crucial counter strikes to stop Kelleher’s front foot pressure.

Result: Simon def. Kelleher // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️


Welterweight (170)

Gabe Green (9-3) vs Philip Rowe (7-2)

Gabe Green is an all offence fighter. Pot-shotting with huge kicks and haymakers to start his combinations, when Green throws, he throws everything and the damn sink. A lack of guard was the major issue behind his debut loss in the UFC, and will likely be his achilles heel until he tightens up his striking defence.

Rowe missed the entirety of the 2020 calendar due to various withdrawals and COVID cancellations. Before then, the DWCS prospect looked a looming threat at 6’3″ and holding an 80″ reach. Frustratingly, Rowe hasn’t yet figured out a sure-fire way to utilise his reach. Often smothering his work by failing to maintain a solid mid-range, Rowe ends up on the mat regularly, where he can lay down surprisingly effective work despite his awkward frame.

Predicted Result: Rowe TKO Round 3

Green’s all-out aggression may be an issue for Rowe who has so far struggled in controlling striking distance, yet his freak 80″ reach advantage is too hard to look past. Decent power and the ability to effectively work on the mat, Rowe is a long way from the finished product but he certainly has the potential.

Result: Green def. Rowe // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Winner ❌ // Method ❌ // Round ❌


Women’s Flyweight (125)

Gillian Robertson (9-5) vs Miranda Maverick (8-2)

Gillian will always be a guilty pleasure of mine. Unwilling to roll over to any fighter, Robertson brings her all to the octagon despite her lack of natural athleticism. Having tightened up her striking into a somewhat competent offence since her early days with the UFC, Robertson no longer has to panic wrestle from the opening bell. Moreover, although bullied by the sheer size of Taila Santos on the ground, Robertson sprang a couple surprise submission attempts that almost finished Santos.

Maverick is slowly becoming one of the most annoying fighters on the roster – mostly because of the commentator’s hard on for her successful studies outside of the octagon. Ignoring her abrasive personality, Maverick is a young prospect who is constantly improving. Throwing short, sharp three-punch combinations on the feet, Maverick ultimately aims to submit an opponent.

Predicted Result: Robertson Submission Round 3

Maverick is the better athlete, and would be advised to keep the fight standing for a while as she has a clear speed and power advantage. On the mat, Robertson remains a constant threat, even from her back. Although a Maverick decision is a safer bet, Robertson rarely shys away from an upset victory.

Result: 🚫 FIGHT CANCELLED 🚫


Prediction Accuracy

UFC 258

Winner: 6/10

Method: 5/10

Round: 5/10

2021 MMA Season

Winner: 36/57

Method: 32/57

Round: 33/57

MMA Overall

Winner: 227/361

Method: 169/361

Round: 158/361

Takeaway comments: Gastelum 2021 redemption arc?!


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