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UFC 258: Usman vs Burns - Feb 13


Who wins and how?   

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On Saturday 13th February, the UFC returns to PPV with this lot. Hasn’t been decided where it’ll happen yet. Either Vegas or Abu Dhabi as usual. 

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PPV MAIN CARD
Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns - Welterweight Title

Uriah Hall vs Chris Weidman

Pedro Munhoz vs Jimmie Rivera

Kelvin Gastelum vs Ian Heinisch

Maycee Barber vs Alexa Grasso 

ESPN PRELIMS
Rodolfo Vieira vs Anthony Hernandez

Belal Muhammad vs Dhiego Lima

Gillian Robertson vs Miranda Maverick

Julian Marquez vs Maki Pitolo

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Polyana Viana vs Mallory Martin

Gabriel Green vs Phil Rowe 

 

As always, this isn’t the final bout order. I doubt it’s even the final card. There’ll probably be a few more fights added yet but I thought I’d get the thread up now as it’s only a few weeks away. Not the strongest PPV but I love that main event and, like I said, there’s probably still some stuff to be added. I hope so anyway.

 

 

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Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns tops the bill and what a fight it should be. Can’t wait for this. Well, I say that but I have been waiting for it for the best part of a year now. This was supposed to have happened already. It was all set to headline UFC 251 in July.

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It was shaping up to be a hell of a fight but Burns got COVID and had to withdraw. Jorge Masvidal stepped in and got outworked and footstomped to a lopsided decision loss and it was beautiful. The timing sucked big time for Burns though. He was riding a real wave of momentum, coming off 6 wins in a row. He beat Gunnar Nelson, he stopped Demian Maia in a round, then in May he utterly dominated Tyron Woodley to a 50-45 shutout.

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But COVID took him out of commission before he could get his title shot and the division rolled on. I’m so glad they’ve stuck with this matchup though. There’s been all kinds of silly talk when it comes to the Welterweight division over the last year or so. The rumours of Conor McGregor moving up to 170, people trying to rush Khamzat Chimaev into the title mix, Jorge Masvidal thinks he deserves another shot, there’s been talk of Nick Diaz making a return, the GSP rumours are never ending. It goes on and on. Then there’s Leon Edwards, Colby Covington and Wonderboy Thompson who are in the conversation on merit. But this is the fight that makes sense and Burns is the most deserving of the shot at the gold.

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Usman’s going to be a difficult man to knock off the throne though. He’s 17-1, on a 16 fight win streak, hasn’t lost in over 7 years and he’s barely dropped a round while beating the likes of Leon Edwards, Demian Maia, Rafael Dos Anjos, Tyron Woodley and Jorge Masvidal. And his win over Covington was not only a great fight, it was easily one of the most satisfying to watch ever for me as well. Maybe second only to Lesnar vs Mir 2.

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Never gets old.

This is some fight. I’d have to favour Usman. How can you not? I genuinely think he’s one of the very best fighters on the planet at the moment, regardless of weight class. His wrestling is obviously the foundation everything else is built on but he’s formidable all-round, his cardio and pace is insane, he fights intelligently and I think he’s a bit underrated in the striking as well. Burns is a handful for anyone and if it hits the ground there’s few in MMA who can live with him in the grappling. We’re talking about a BJJ world champion and 2nd degree black-belt here. And on the feet he’s shown he can crack too. You’re not safe anywhere fighting Gilbert Burns. That mix of legitimate world class Jiu-Jitsu and knockout power is some combo. And like Usman in the standup, I think Burns’ takedowns are kind of slept on. He’s not a typical ‘BJJ guy’ with no wrestling like we saw in the early days with the Gracies.

Another interesting twist here is that they’re friends and they’ve trained together a fair bit in the past;

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They were teammates under Henri Hooft going back to the Blackzilians days. They know each other and what they’re up against very well. That always adds an extra layer of intrigue. Especially in a high level clash like this. Usman is training with Justin Gaethje under Trevor Wittman for this fight from what I’m reading.

In the end I’m fancying Usman to retain. It pains me to admit it but I think if anyone at 170 poses a real serious threat of taking the belt from him at the moment it’s still Covington. People forget but that fight was neck and neck until Usman turned his jaw to dust. But aside from that, I think Burns has a skillset to test Usman more than most in the division. It’s certainly a much better fight on paper than Usman vs Masvidal ever was. Only crap thing about this is one has to lose, which is a shame because it’s been nice to watch both of them rise through the ranks. And for one of them that’s about to come to a halt. Great, great fight though.

 

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Uriah Hall vs Chris Weidman 2. The rematch! I’m guessing most won’t even know these guys fought before. I completely forgot myself, to be honest. They met way back in September 2010. It was before the UFC came calling for either of them and took place in the Ring Of Combat promotion in New Jersey. Hall was 4-0 and was already the ROC Middleweight champ. Weidman was just 2-0. Both merely prospects at the time but Weidman had some hype already because Matt Serra and Ray Longo were bigging him up to anyone who would listen.

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Weidman knocked Hall out in 3 minutes to become the new ROC champion. You pretty much know the rest. Weidman hit the big leagues first. Made his UFC debut in 2011 and won 5 in a row before shocking the world and ending the reign of Anderson Silva in 2013 to become the UFC Middleweight champion. Hall got on TUF that year, scored some highlight reel knockouts and had everyone buzzing to the point Dana was calling him the ‘new Anderson Silva’. But he lost to Kelvin Gastelum in the finals. And that kind of set the tone for his UFC career. He’d show flashes of brilliance and there were nights he looked absolutely spectacular. But for every one of them there seemed to be two fights where he just couldn’t pull the trigger. Weidman fizzled out rapidly after the Rockhold mauling in 2015. He’s 15-5 now and 2-5 in his last 7. Crazy considering he looked every bit the future of 185 at one point. He did actually get a win last time out though, beating Omari Akhmedov on points in August. Hall has finally been able to find a bit of consistency and string some Ws together recently. He comes in off 3 consecutive wins and scored what will probably go down as his career defining victory in October when he TKO’d Anderson Silva out of the UFC. Funny old fight. Both have had high highs and crushing lows and you never really know which versions of both are going to show up. I don’t see either getting back in the title mix and causing any bother at this stage in the game. I quite like the matchup though. It’s a chance for Hall to avenge his first ever loss a decade later. And for Weidman, a win here over an in-form Hall would be a big confidence booster for him.

 

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Pedro Munhoz vs Jimmie Rivera 2 is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** and should be an absolute belter of a fight. I don’t remember their first fight at all. It was in November 2015 on the undercard of Vitor Belfort vs Dan Henderson 3 in Brazil. I must’ve seen it at the time but I have zero memory of it. Rivera won a split decision. I’m more of a Munhoz fan so I hope he wins this one and evens up the score. Not sure how it goes though. I think I actually had Munhoz beating Frankie Edgar in their 5 rounder in August but the decision went against him. Before that he lost to Aljamain Sterling in a corker. Before that he walloped Cody Garbrandt into oblivion. Really tough and exciting fighter to watch. His recent record doesn’t really do him justice. Similar with Rivera really. He’s lost 3 of his last 5 but those losses were to Yan, Sterling and an in-form Moraes. He went 21-1 at the start of his career with wins over the likes of Urijah Faber, Thomas Almeida and, as mentioned, Munhoz himself. Looking forward to this. I’ve really grown to love the Bantamweight division over the last year or so. As good a fighter as Henry Cejudo is/was, the division has improved tenfold for me since he vacated the belt and pissed off. It’s allowed what was a total mess of a title picture to be sorted out and now all these guys have a clear goal to focus on and aim for. So many quality fighters at 135.

 

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Kelvin Gastelum vs Ian Heinisch. Interesting one this. Just don’t know what we’re getting with Gastelum at this point. He hasn’t looked at the races at all since that epic battle with Israel Adesanya back in April 2019. Since then he’s gone 0-2, looked flat against Darren Till then got heel hooked in a minute by Jack Hermansson. He’s still not even 30 yet, I don’t want to write him off by any means. It’s not like Till and Hermansson are bums. But another loss here would be 4 on the bounce for Gastelum. And with these much talked about roster cuts looming, it’s the worst time to be on a losing streak. This is a slight step down in opposition but still a tough one. Heinisch is no mug. He’s 14-3 and coming off a quick TKO over UKFF favourite Gerald Meerschaert in June. He’s also got Octagon wins over Antonio Carlos Junior and Cezar Ferreira.

 

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Maycee Barber vs Alexa Grasso. This could be fun. Barber is usually in exciting fights because she’s so aggressive. I’m still not 100% sold on her but she’s still only 22 years old and clearly has potential and room to improve. She’s coming off a points loss to Roxanne Modafferi a year ago but she was 8-0 with 7 finishes before that. Grasso has been great to watch so far. One of the more consistently exciting women fighters on the roster. She even dragged Carla Esparza to a cracking fight that got FOTN in 2019. She’s had really good scraps with Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Randa Markos as well. Bit of a hot and cold UFC run but she’s ace. These two should match up for a lively one. Barber goes for it and Grasso will happily meet her head on.

 

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Rodolfo Vieira vs Anthony Hernandez. This should be well worth a look. Vieira looks the business so far. He’s a real grappling beast. 4 time BJJ world champion, 7 time BJJ World Cup champion, ADCC champion. His grappling victories include names Bellator fans will recognise like Rafael Lovato Jr, Benson Henderson and AJ Agazarm and he also holds wins over BJJ masters Keenan Cornelius, Buchecha Almeida, Xande Ribeiro and Braulio Estima. Basically, he’s a fucking animal on the mat. In 2017 he switched over to MMA and he’s gone 7-0 with 7 finishes. He’s submitted Oskar Piechota and Saparbek Safarov so far in the UFC. Hernandez is a decent enough next test but one I’d expect Vieira to pass without too much hassle. He’s 7-2-0-1 and coming off a quick stoppage loss against Kevin Holland in May.

 

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Belal Muhammad vs Dhiego Lima. This was meant to go down on the Wonderboy vs Neal card in December but Muhammad got struck down with COVID. It’s an OK filler fight, nothing more. I like Muhammad. He’s had a couple of really fun fights on the undercards over the years plus he seems a real cool guy on Twitter and stuff. Slightly underrated as well, IMO. He’s coming off 3 very solid wins over Lyman Good, Takashi Sato and Curtis Millender and also holds wins over Tim Means, Jordan Mein and Randy Brown. It’s Lima I’m indifferent to here. Just never really rated him. Seems a nice enough guy and he’s on a decent little 3 fight streak himself but I’ve just never got into his fights. Doesn’t help that he’s always being compared to his brother either. Bellator definitely got the better half of the Lima brothers.

 

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Gillian Robertson vs Miranda Maverick. This could be fun actually. At 9-5, Robertson probably isn’t going to be making any real waves but she’s pretty exciting to watch all the same. She’s coming off a points loss to Taila Santos in December but I really rate Santos as a bit of a darkhorse in the Flyweight division so no shame in losing to her. Robertson’s still young as well, maybe she can turn the corner. She trains at ATT and is a BJJ black-belt under Din Thomas as well so it’s not like the tools aren’t there. I think her aggression works for and against her at times though. Maverick is 23 years old with a record of 8-2 and she’s coming off 4 straight wins. She beat up and stopped Liana Jojua in a round on the Khabib-Gaethje undercard in October. I remember her looking a bit of a handful in that one and, like Robertson, very aggressive. It’s a nothing fight in the big picture but I can see it being a lively all action scrap.

 

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Julian Marquez vs Maki Pitolo. This could be a fun one actually. Marquez was considered a bit of a hot prospect at one point. He burst into the UFC in 2017 with an absolute corker of a debut against Darren Stewart. A real forgotten gem. If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to fire up the old Fight Pass and give it a look. Marquez won but then lost his next fight against Alessio Di Chirico and hasn’t been seen since. That was 2018. He’s 7-2, all his wins via finish and he also has a headkick KO over Phil Hawes (who scored a big knockout on the Khabib-Gaethje undercard recently) and a first round stoppage over a shot Matt Hamill. He’s still got some potential but a 2+ year layoff is no joke. Pitolo is a tough little Hawaiian with a record of 13-7 and 10 finishes. No world beater and he’s coming into this fight off the back of 2 consecutive losses but he’s a scrapper and pretty entertaining to watch as far as I recall. Should be a good opponent for Marquez to return against.

 

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Polyana Viana vs Mallory Martin. It’s a nothing fight really. I’ve liked Viana for a while and not just because she’s fit. Ever since that story came out about some twat trying to mug her in Brazil and she battered him, I’ve been a fan. She’s had her ups and downs but she’s definitely got the raw skills. She’s 11-4 now with all her wins coming inside the distance. She armbarred Emily Whitmire in 2 minutes in her last fight, snapping a 3 fight losing streak. She also scored a first round knockout victory over Amanda Ribas back in 2015. To date, she’s still the only woman to beat Ribas. So she’s had her moments. She just hasn’t been able to find any real consistency. Don’t recall seeing Mallory Martin fight before. She’s 7-3, a BJJ brown-belt and she’s coming off a submission over Hannah Cifers in August.

 

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Gabriel Green vs Phil Rowe. Dunno. I don’t recall seeing either of these two fight before. Green’s 27 years old, 9-3, all finishes. He made his UFC debut against Daniel Rodriguez in May and lost on points. Rodriguez is a bit of a finisher so Green going the distance with him is a testament to his durability at least. Rowe is 30 from New York and nicknamed ‘The Fresh Prince’. 7-2 record, all finishes. He fought on Dana’s Contender Series in August and got a TKO over Leon Shahbazyan, the older brother of UFC Middleweight standout Edmen. 

 

That’s your lot for now. I’ll edit as and when for additions and the inevitable pullouts and changes and all that cack. 

Edited by wandshogun09
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5 minutes ago, wandshogun09 said:

I genuinely think he’s one of the very best fighters on the planet at the moment, regardless of weight class. 

No question.

Given that Khabib is inactive, Usman, Izzy and Volk are the clear top 3 in my view. 

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Well colour me excited for this one, With all the hype that went into their last build before it fell apart at the very last minute. You started to get excited and look at Burns as a true contender and I was hyped for it (Obviously I'm a huge Masvidal fan so what ended up going down made me even happier until the cage door closed) After seeing Usman do what he did to Masvidal I think this has made Usman look even harder to beat and dethrone so this will be a really fun one. 

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