Kamaru Usman Survives Scare, Buries Gilbert Burns to Retain Welterweight Title Atop UFC 258

By Brian Knapp Feb 13, 2021

Sign up for ESPN+ right here, and you can then stream UFC 258 live on your smart TV, computer, phone, tablet or streaming device via the ESPN app.

Kamaru Usman remains the master of his domain and now owns the longest winning streak in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight division.

Usman retained his undisputed welterweight crown with a stirring third-round technical knockout of former Sanford MMA stablemate Gilbert Burns in the UFC 258 headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Burns (19-4, 12-4 UFC) bowed out 34 seconds into Round 3, his run of six consecutive victories at an end.

It was far from a typical title defense for the champion. Burns had “The Nigerian Nightmare” reeling with an overhand right in the first round and appeared to have him out of sorts. Usman (18-1, 13-0 UFC), however, slowly regained his faculties and started to seize command. He relied more and more on a devastating jab from both hands and floored Burns with the punch during a dominant second round. Usman dropped the four-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion again at the start of Round 3, sent a standing-to-ground right crashing into his face and let fly with punches until referee Herb Dean had seen enough.

Usman’s 13th straight victory as a welterweight—he has rattled off 17 wins in a row overall—breaks the all-time divisional record, held previously by Georges St. Pierre.

Grasso Subdues Returning Barber

Lobo Gym standout Alexa Grasso pocketed the most significant win of her 16-fight career in the co-main event, where she took a unanimous decision from Maycee Barber in a three-round battle at 125 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28 for Grasso (13-3, 5-3 UFC), who appears to have turned a corner toward contention.

It marked Barber’s first appearance since she tore her ACL in a loss to Roxanne Modafferi a little more than a year ago. Grasso kept her off-stride with crisp punching combinations while also proving to be surprisingly effective in the clinch and on the ground. She surprised Barber in the second round, where she conceded a takedown, then swept into top position under threat of an armbar. Grasso attacked with shoulder strikes from half guard, hunted an arm-triangle and ultimately maneuvered onto the Dana White Contender Series graduate’s back. Barber (8-2, 3-2 UFC) made an admirable push in Round 3, where she hit the accelerator, connected with sweeping hooks with both hands and remained the aggressor. Still, the effort was not enough to dig her out of a two-rounds-to-none hole.

Grasso, 27, has won three of her last four fights.

Related » UFC 258 Round-by-Round Scoring

Gastelum Halts Slide, Decisions Heinisch

“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum leaned on basic two-punch combinations, flexed his might in close quarters and piled up points with multiple takedowns, as he put an end to a three-fight losing streak with a unanimous decision over former Legacy Fighting Alliance titleholder Ian Heinisch in a three-round middleweight attraction. Gastelum (16-6, 11-6 UFC) carried all three scorecards: 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.

Heinisch (14-4, 3-3 UFC) spent much of his time on defense. Gastelum executed three takedowns in the first round, climbed to full mount and freed himself from two attempted kimuras. His surgical left hand became more of a factor in the second and third rounds, where he continued to put distance between himself and his counterpart. Heinisch saw a brief window of opportunity open and shut in Round 3, where he scrambled onto the Kings MMA rep’s back and hunted a potential choke. However, Gastelum was wise to his advances, sprang a reversal and steered clear of further danger.

The win was Gastelum’s first since May 12, 2018.

Ascending Simon Dominates Kelleher

Repeated takedowns and damaging ground-and-pound carried Team Oyama’s Ricky Simon to a unanimous decision over former Ring of Combat champion Brian Kelleher in a three-round featherweight feature. All three cageside judges struck 30-27 scorecards for Simon (18-3, 6-2 UFC), who has pieced together a three-fight winning streak since suffering back-to-back losses to Urijah Faber and Rob Font in 2019.

Kelleher (22-12, 6-5 UFC) fell behind early and never established a rhythm. Simon secured a takedown in the first round and opened a gnarly vertical cut between the Long Island MMA representative’s nose and right eye with a slashing elbow strike from the top. It set the table for what was to come, as outside of two front kicks to the face and another to the body, Kelleher was ineffective. Simon delivered takedowns in the second and third rounds, handled Kelleher in the clinch and drained the remaining time off the clock.

The 34-year-old Kelleher has lost twice in his past three outings.

Related » UFC 258 Prelims: Hernandez Executes Stunning Submission of Vieira

Marquez Choke Sinks Pitolo

Glory MMA rep Julian Marquez submitted former Victory Fighting Championship titleholder Maki Pitolo with an anaconda choke in the third round of their middleweight showcase. In his first appearance since July 6, 2018, Marquez (8-2, 2-1 UFC) drew the curtain 4:17 into Round 3.

Pitolo (13-8, 1-4 UFC) controlled a majority of the action through the first two rounds with takedowns, positional control and effective ground-and-pound. Marquez refused to wilt. Pitolo struck for another takedown in the third round, advanced toward the back and threatened with a rear-naked choke. However, Marquez escaped, returned to his feet and made the most of his opportunities. He swamped Pitolo with power punches, blasted him with a knee to the face at close range and bit down on a guillotine before transitioning beautifully to the anaconda choke.

Marquez has rattled off six wins across his last seven outings.

Continue Reading » UFC 258 Prelims: Viana Armbar Submits Martin Advertisement
<h2>Fight Finder</h2>