• Keith Eppinger

UFC 258: Usman vs Burns Preview

Updated: Mar 24

It's already been a great year for UFC fans, and we're just getting started. Between the debut of Mike Chandler, the surprise victory of Dustin Poirier over Conor McGregor, and Herb Dean zoning out and allowing Amanda Ribas to continue to fight after getting KO’d, UFC 257 was a great start to the year. It was an absolutely electric night, and gave fans a lot to look forward to in 2021. Next up is UFC 258, February 13th, and the fight everyone is looking forward to:


Usman vs Burns for the welterweight championship


Kamaru "The Nigerian Nightmare" Usman
Kamaru "The Nigerian Nightmare" Usman

Kamaru “The Nigerian Nightmare” Usman will be defending his welterweight belt against his teammate from Sanford MMA, Gilbert “Durinho” Burns. This is Usman’s third title defense. He’s already proven himself as one of the current greats in the welterweight division. Quick recap of his three most recent fights: took the belt from Tyron Woodley at UFC 253 in 2019, broke Colby Covington’s jaw and won by TKO in the fifth round at 245 for his first title defense, then, he beat Jorge Masvidal, one of the baddest dudes in the game, by decision at 251 last summer. He seems pretty much invincible right now with a career record of 17-1-0.


Is Gilbert Burns up to the challenge? Let's dive in.


Gilbert Burns vs. Tyrone Woodley
Gilbert Burns vs. Tyrone Woodley

Gilbert Burns is currently ranked #2 in the welterweight division with a record of 19-3-0. Burns’ last 6 fights have all been wins, with his last over Tyron Woodley at UFC fight night, May 2020. Burns controlled the entire fight. He won by decision, starting early with a takedown and having twice as many landed strikes as Woodley. He beat Demian Maia just two months before that, knocking him out in the first round with ease. It looks like every fight Gilbert Burns keeps getting better. Gilbert’s recent success could be a result of moving up from the lightweight class. Going from 155 pounds to 170 pounds has increased his strength so much that he’s now consistently ending fights with knockouts, as opposed to how he used to end them- via submissions. His punches are accurate like heat seeking missiles. He’s a lot of fun to watch, incorporating moves like Superman punches regularly. This guys making his way through the division. He’s earned his shot at the title. Now “Durinho” has to perform.


The best fight of his career


In order for Burns to claim the welterweight belt, he needs to have the best fight of his career. Usman is a predator, stalking his prey into a corner, forcing them to make a bad move, and catching them with a powerful counter. Sometimes in the form of takedown or a clinch up against the fence. Burns has been extremely aggressive lately too, especially in his last fight where he took Woodley to the ground within minutes and brutalized him. Out of respect for each other’s wrestling skills, Usman and Burns probably avoid the mat until absolutely necessary, similar to Usman’s fight against Covington. If this is the case, Gilbert has a chance due to his vastly improved striking abilities. Since they’re teammates, Burns knows Usman’s tendencies. Usman loves the front body kick, as well as an arsenal of body strikes, and used it strategically and often in his last two fights. Burns absolutely cannot let this rattle him, because if it does, he’ll drop his hands and expose his chin to some of the meanest hooks in all of fighting. I think that as long as Gilbert keeps the fight standing, he has a shot in this fight. Fortunately, Vegas disagrees.


Everyone loves the underdog


The odds for this fight are currently set at Kamaru Usman -280, Gilbert Burns +220. I always love the underdog, especially when their fight means something to them. I hit big on Dustin Poirier and “Iron” Mike Chandler at UFC 257, and “Durinho” has been the underdog in most of his recent fights. So I’m sticking with the underdog. Gilbert is driven to bring home the belt, and that mindset has gotten him where he is now. This fight has the potential to go the distance, given their possible hesitation to take it to the ground. However, if Burns comes out too aggressive it may open him up to a knockout via a counter. If both fighters stay on their feet, Gilbert Burns has an advantage because of his accurate and powerful punches. At +220, I’m willing to take a chance on Gilbert Burns winning by decision. The payout is just too tempting. Don’t let me down, “Durinho”!


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