The UFC 258 results are in and Kamaru "the Nigerian Nightmare" Usman has cemented his legacy as one of the greatest welterweight champions in UFC history.
The UFC 258 fight card lost two bouts in the final 36 hours prior to the event. Bobby Green collapsed after the weigh-ins, forcing his bout with Jim Miller to be canceled. A bout between Gillian Robertson and Miranda Maverick was nixed on Saturday after Robertson fell ill and was medically unfit to fit.
That didn't make any difference when it came to the UFC 258 main event, where Usman put his stamp on one of the sport's most storied divisions.
Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns
Usman's remarkable performance was only more remarkable because of the adversity he overcame in the first round of the fight.
Burns stormed the Octagon, taking the center. Within moments, he cracked Usman and sent him to the canvas. Usman returned to his feet, still wobbly, and ate a couple more punches from Burns.
Usman spent the next couple minutes trying to stay out of Burns's range. Burns kept pressing forward, launching kicks, knees, and punches. Usman kept sticking his jab and doing his best to remain out of reach.
In between rounds, Usman's coach, Trevor Wittman, pressed upon him to keep sticking his jab. Usman listened. The results were incredible.
Though Usman's jab was starting to find its mark in round one, it was tattooed all over Burns's face in the second frame. He kept putting his jab out there, setting up the right hand, which dropped Burns on two occasions.
Right out of the gate in round three, Usman again dropped Burns to his backside. Standing over him, Usman unloaded with a flurry of punches until referee Herb Dean stopped the fight.
“This was a tough one, a very, very tough one. You cannot discredit what Gilbert Burns has done in this division. After being knocked out at lightweight, regrouped, put it all together, moved up a weight class and started tearing through these guys. We started this journey together. He showed it tonight. He put it all together. He’s knocked off one guy after another to get to this point,” Usman said of his friend and former teammate.
“This one was hard for me. It’s hard to come in without all the emotions. Gilbert is a guy that I’ve known from the start. I love him. This one was tough for me to deal with.”
While he holds Burns in high regard, Usman knows there is a reason that he surpassed Georges St-Pierre for most consecutive wins in the UFC welterweight division on Saturday night.
“I’m the varsity guy. My Fight IQ is different. When you get in here, it’s different ball game; I’m a whole other savage,” he continued.
“This is my cage. I’m the undisputed welterweight champion for a reason. This is my cage. When you step in here, there are no friends. I had to do what I needed to do, and that was win this title. I’m the welterweight champion for a reason, I’m here to stay.”
Typically fighters have to come to the champ, but Usman has his eyes on a future fight with a man he's already defeated once before, Jorge Masvidal. Usman defeated Masvidal at UFC 251 last year when Masvidal stepped in on short notice after Burns had to withdraw because of a positive COVID-19 test. Usman doesn't like leaving Masvidal with any excuses.
“We got this little street thug, calling himself Jesus, thinking he’s Jesus. They tried to make that fight several times, but he kept backing out. The only reason this man took the fight was because it was on six days notice. He had a built in excuse and he’s still running his mouth. Talking about he broke my nose and stepping in on six days give (him) three weeks, he’s gonna do something. I’ll give you a whole training camp. I guarantee you won’t sign on the dotted line because this time, I’m going to finish your ass,” Usman said of Masvidal, though he's not locked only on him.
“Any one of these fools can get it, but if he’s gonna keep running his mouth, if he’s gonna talk, step in here and you gotta see me. Step in here and see me.”
Alexa Grasso proves she belongs in the UFC flyweight division
Alexa Grasso recently joined the ranks of the UFC flyweights, moving up from the 115-pound strawweight division. Against Mayce Barber in the UFC 258 co-main event, she showed that she belongs in the division.
Grasso pressured Barber, constantly putting her on the fence and grinding, but also outstriking her for the better part of the first two rounds.
Barber landed a flurry in the second half of round two that hurt Grasso. She then took her to the canvas. Grasso, however, showed an impressive ground display transitioning from submission to submission to take the round back.
The third round saw Barber throw everything she had at Grasso. She turned the final frame into a wild strikefest, stunning Grasso. But Grasso remained calm, handling the hard shots that Barber landed, and fired back with several combinations of her own.
Barber finished strong with a takedown and then a knee to Grasso’s chin as she regained her feet, but it was too little, too late. Grasso took a unanimous nod from the judges.
Kelvin Gastelum defeats Ian Heinisch for first win in three years
Quite possibly fighting for his career in the Octagon, Kelvin Gastelum put on a stellar performance against rising middleweight Ian Heinisch on Saturday night. He had lost his three most recent bouts.
Gastelum looked as sharp as we've seen him for the past few years. He pressured Heinisch throughout the fight, taking him down over and over. While Heinisch was able to continually get back to his feet, Gastelum will still the sharper fighter when standing as well.
Heinisch added some new wrinkles in the third round, but Gastelum adjusted as well, keeping the pressure on him and finishing strong, not allowing Heinisch back into the fight.
“I’m trying to hold back tears. Man, it’s been three years since my last victory,” Gastelum told Joe Rogan after the fight before targeting his next bout.
“I know there’s a big fight going on, Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa; if either if those guys falls out for whatever reason, I’ll be ready.”
Ricky Simon routes Brian Kelleher
Ricky Simon put on one of the best performances of his career against Brian Kelleher. He took Kelleher down early in the first round, cutting him over the right eye with an elbow, setting the table for the remainder of the bout.
Simon kept the pressure on Kelleher throughout, taking him down over and over throughout the fight.
Kelleher attacked in the third round with a Kimura, but Simon simply reversed the hold, attacking with his own submission attempt. Kelleher regained his feet, as he did after most of the earlier takedowns, but Simon kept pressing him, outstriking and outgrappling him en route to a unanimous-decision victory.
Julian Marquez turns tables, subs Maki Pitolo
Maki Pitolo appeared to be sailing to a three-round unanimous-decision victory in the UFC 258 main card opener, but somebody forgot to tell Julian Marquez.
Fighting for the first time in two and a half years, Marquez was repeatedly taken down throughout the fight. Late in the third round, however, he caught Pitolo with a furious flurry of combinations, including a spinning elbow.
Dazing Pitolo with strikes, Marquez locked on an anaconda choke, forcing him to submit.
RELATED > UFC 258 Post-Fight Press Conference
UFC 258 results
UFC 258 Main Card
Main Event: Welterweight Championship: Kamaru Usman def Gilbert Burns by TKO (punches) at 0:34, R3
Co-Main Event: Women’s Flyweight Bout: Alexa Grasso def Maycee Barber by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Middleweight Bout: Kelvin Gastelum def Ian Heinisch by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Lightweight Bout: Jim Miller vs. Bobby Green- CANCELED
Featherweight Bout: Ricky Simon def Brian Kelleher by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Middleweight Bout: Julian Marquez def Maki Pitolo by submission (anaconda choke) at 4:17, R3
UFC 258 Prelims
Middleweight Bout: Anthony Hernandez def Rodolfo Vieira by submission (guillotine choke) at 1:53, R2
Welterweight Bout: Belal Muhammad def Dhiego Lima by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Women’s Strawweight Bout: Polyana Viana def Mallory Martin by submission (armbar) at 3:18, R1
Catchweight (140-lb) Bout: Chris Gutierrez def Andre Ewell by unanimous decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-27)
UFC 258 Early Prelims
Welterweight Bout: Gabe Green def Phil Rowe by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Women’s Flyweight Bout: Gillian Robertson vs Miranda Maverick- CANCELED