One-time teammates now turned opposition. Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns once ruled the training room of Sanford MMA under Henri Hooft in South Florida. Tonight in Las Vegas, Nevada — Usman attempts to knock back the famaliar face, hopeful of dethroning a former training partner as Burns sets sights on becoming the first Brazilian in promotional antiquity to lay claim to the welterweight championship.
Unmatched at welterweight and riding a twelve-fight undefeated run into his thirteenth promotional walk tonight, Usman has lodged two successful defences against concievably, the most dangerous threats to his reign. Dispatching rival, Colby Covington at UFC 245 at the tail end of 2019, Usman took out Jorge Masvidal over five rounds last summer on ‘Fight Island’. As the contenders continue to pile up, so do the challengers. Burns presents, as per Usman, his sternest test as champion to date — and it’s difficult to disagree with the incumbent best.
Undefeated in his last four welterweight appearances since moving back to 170-pounds back in 2019 — the massively over-sized former lightweight bedded into his new weight class with a couple of judging wins over the touted, Alexander Kunchenko, and the mainstay, Gunnar Nelson.
Returning to Brasilia last March, Burns announced himself clearly to the division via an opening round knockout over compatriot and former title challenger, Demian Maia. Stamping his credentials as a bonafide title chaser, the four-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world championship gold medalist made lightwork of former champion, Tyron Woodley on his way to a unanimous decision victory in May.
Drafted into a co-main event slot on short-notice, technical boxer, Alexa Grasso looks to continue her purple-patch and make it two flyweight win in two as she draws the returning, record-chasing, Maycee Barber.
Taking out Ji Yeon Kim after a decision setback against former champion, Carla Esparza, Guadalajara native, Grasso successfully landed at 125-pounds after a skewed strawweight weight cut forced her from a matchup against former title challenger, Claudia Gadelha on the same card as Barber’s first professional loss.
Fast-tracked to the big-time, Barber suffered a major ACL tear at UFC 246 back in January of 2020 in her would-be breakout performance against veteran fan-favourite, Roxanne Modafferi. Dropping a unanimous decision to the Delaware pioneer, Barber has spent the last year recuperating and hopes to reignite the drive to become the promotion’s youngest ever champion — dislodging two-time light heavyweight best, Jon Jones.
UFC 258 Results: Usman vs. Burns
Main Card: (ESPN+ PPV 10 pm ET)
Welterweight: Kamaru Usman (c) def. Gilbert Burns via third round (0:34) knockout (strikes)
Flyweight: Alexa Grasso def. Maycee Barber via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Middleweight: Kelvin Gastelum def. Ian Heinisch via unanimous decision (30-27, and 29-28 x2)
Featherweight: Ricky Simon def. Brian Kelleher via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Middleweight: Julian Marquez def. Maki Pitolo via third round (4:17) submission (anaconda)
Preliminary Card: (ESPN/ESPN+ 8 pm E.T.)
Middleweight: Anthony Hernandez def. Rodolfo Vieira via second round (1:53) submission (guillotine)
Welterweight: Belal Muhammad def. Dhiego Lima via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Strawweight: Polyana Viana def. Mallory Martin via first round (3:18) submission (armbar)
Catchweight (140-pounds): Chris Gutierrez def. Andre Ewell via unanimous decision (30-26, 29-28, and 29-27)
Early Preliminary Card: (ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass 7 pm E.T.)
Welterweight: Gabriel Green def. Philip Rowe via unanimous decision (30-27, and 29-28 x2)