UFC 258 - Usman vs Burns - Preview
This Saturday’s UFC event sees the Welterweight title up for grabs as Kamaru Usman looks to earn his third title defence against the in-form #1 contender Gilbert Burns, both fighters have a very good all-round game making for an exciting matchup. The co-main event sees the return of exciting prospect Maycee Barber looking to restart her own title contention against Alexa Grasso. This preview will go through each fight on the card individually offering details of the matchup as well as my opinion on how I see the fights going.
Gillian Robertson vs Miranda Maverick: This event begins in the women’s flyweight division with two athletes that will be looking to make a statement and climb into the rankings with a win. This will be Robertson’s tenth fight in the UFC, winning 6 and losing three. She has a lot more UFC experience than her opponent who will be making only her second UFC appearance. Despite her lack of UFC experience, Maverick has an impressive record from her time in Invicta FC as she carries an overall MMA record of 8-2 and at the young age of 23, she will be looking for a big win against an opponent who has had an up and down time in her last few fights. Both of these fighters have very good Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu background so I expect this to be fought largely on the floor with whoever can implement their game plan the quickest getting the win.
My prediction: Maverick by DEC
Gabriel Green vs Philip Rowe: This Welterweight bout sees two relatively new fighters try to gain their first win in the UFC. Green is coming off a loss in his UFC debut whereas Rowe is making his UFC debut on the back of 7 straight wins (3 KOs and 4 submissions). I do not expect this fight to go the distance as only a combined 3 of their total 21 fights have gone the distance. Both of these guys are competent on the ground and standing up but I expect to see a lot of takedowns and submission attempts as both have finished the majority of their fights by submission.
My prediction: Rowe by SUB
Ricky Simon vs Brian Kelleher: A fight that has been made twice before but was shut down because of Covid and a grudge match that both fighters have been asking for closes out the early prelims. This fight has the potential to be fight of the night as this fight makes for a very interesting stylistic matchup, which I expect to be very grappling heavy. Simon is extremely durable and likes to dominate fights and win by decision whereas Kelleher has finished 18 of his 22 wins. Both of these guys have been around the top 15 for a while and will be looking to make a statement with a win.
My prediction: Simon by DEC
Andre Ewell vs Chris Gutierrez: An exciting bout opens the prelims between two fighters that prefer to stand and trade so expect to see an exciting matchup. Both bring similar records into this fight with both having 7 wins by KO. Ewell’s last two fights have been won via a split decision which he will be hoping to display a more dominating performance as he may feel he has ridden his luck in his previous two fights. Gutierrez is undefeated in his last 4 fights (3 wins, 1 draw) hoping to continue his good run in the UFC. Both fighters land roughly 4 significant strikes per minute so a similar level of output can be expected. However, Ewell absorbs almost double the amount of significant strikes than Gutierrez meaning he is going to take a lot of shots from Gutierrez.
My prediction: Gutierrez by KO
Polyana Viana vs Mallory Martin: Another even looking matchup on paper between these two Strawweights with a similar heights and reach advantages along with both holding brown belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it is difficult to see which was this fight will go. Viana fought once last year ending her 3-fight losing streak with a submission win which should give her confidence going into this bout. Martin is coming off of a win against Hannah Cifers who previously beat Viana, this should give confidence to Martin that she has the skillset required to pick up another win here.
My prediction: Martin by DEC
Belal Muhammad vs Dhiego Lima: This bout looks to be an exciting matchup between two up and coming Welterweights. Muhammad is a very accomplished all-round fighter recording high significant strikes landed numbers alongside a high takedown average and takedown defence. Due to his ability in all areas of the fight, I can only see this going one way.
My prediction: Muhammad by DEC
Rodolfo Viera vs Anthony Hernandez: The feature prelim contains the heaviest favourite on the card in Viera. The undefeated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt brings a very grappling heavy style shown by 6 of his 7 fights being won by submission. Hernandez does have a high takedown defence percentage, but I still think the multiple world Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion will have too much for him.
My prediction: Viera by SUB
Jim Miller vs Bobby Green: The main card opens with two veterans of Mixed Martial Arts having a combined 87 fights between them. Green will want to stand and strike whereas Miller will want to take this fight to the ground and add to his 18 submission wins. This fight will go towards whoever can impose their skillset first. I expect that Green will have too much for Miller who absorbs a high amount of strikes. Green needs to use his height advantage to stop the takedowns and keep Miller at distance to control the fight.
My prediction: Green by DEC
Maki Pitolo vs Julian Marquez: An exciting bout sees the return of Marquez after a 31-month lay-off after a serious injury against the recently active Pitolo. Pitolo has fought 6 times since Marquez’ last fight. This favours Pitolo massively as he will have gained experience of being in the octagon whereas Marquez may find it difficult to readapt having been out for so long. Stylistically, there is not much separating these two but coming down to freshness, I expect ring rust to get the better of Marquez and that is why I am backing Pitolo.
My prediction: Pitolo by KO
Kelvin Gastelum vs Ian Heinisch: Gastelum comes into this possibly fighting for his UFC career as he is coming off the back of three high profile defeats and a fourth here would paint a dark picture for Kelvin’s future. This fight for Gastelum is a step down in opponent quality from his last three fights which should give him confidence to overcome Heinisch. If Gastelum can get back to the form which saw him burst onto the scene then I can see his skillset being too much. Heinisch will need to use his height advantage to frustrate Gastelum and not let him get close but if Gastelum can close the distance then I can see a big knockout win for Gastelum.
My prediction: Gastelum by KO
Maycee Barber vs Alexa Grasso: The co-main event sees the return of “The Future” Maycee Barber. The 22-year-old has been out for just over a year after sustaining an injury in her loss against Roxanne Modafferi, which had the injury not occurred we would still be looking at an undefeated fighter. Barber tends not to let her fights go the distance and with the volume that she throws I expect her to be too powerful for Grasso. This promises to be a striking heavy affair that may be over very quickly. Barber will be looking to restart her title push with a convincing win over a tough competitor.
My prediction: Barber by KO
Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns: The main event sees the welterweight belt up for grabs as two former teammates go head-to-head. Usman looks to defend his title for the fourth time against a man who is undefeated in his last 6 and undefeated since his move from
lightweight to welterweight. This is a fight that I expect to go all the way with both men showing a very high skill level in all areas. Burns, a multiple world Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion, will be looking to use this expertise to control Usman. However, Usman has never been taken down in the UFC so this alone will be a difficult task. Whichever way this fight goes, both fighters have the skills to be able to get their hand raised which is why I believe this matchup is a lot closer than the bookies think. These former teammates will know who used to get the better of the other one in training which will bring a psychological edge to that fighter. I believe that Burns being the dark horse of this division will surprise many with his performance and there will be a new welterweight champion at the end of the night.
My prediction: Burns by DEC
Written by Luke Penny