Whilst many people in Britain were asleep at 5 am on Saturday morning, a fight was brewing at UFC 258 it looked as though, for a slight moment, that the challenger Gilbert Burns was about to put Kamaru Usman to sleep himself. Despite rocking him early, however, Usman’s experience and world-class striking helped him overcome this scare.
On Saturday night, Kamaru Usman successfully defended his UFC 258 Welterweight title after defeating former training partner Gilbert Burns with a third-round TKO at UFC Apex in Las Vegas, USA.
Despite having a wrestling background, it was Usman’s striking, particularly his jab, stole the show. Consistently snapping Burns’ neck back whenever it landed. This, combined with the composure of a true champion, was what helped Usman overcome Burns.
However, Burns can only have himself to blame for the way the fight panned out. His lack of experience in title fights was fully displayed. The moment he smelt blood early in the first, he lost his head and became too focused on getting the knockout, rather than thinking of the gameplan. Demonstrated by the post-match interview where Burns was so devastated after the loss.
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One aspect of the fight that became obvious after the first round was how Burns seemed to run out of gas very quickly. In his post-fight interview, Gilbert blames getting “overexcited” after stumbling Usman with a big right hand early in the first. As a result, he claims to have forgotten his fight strategy and was too focused on ongoing “for the kill”.
Similarly, in his fight with Dan Hooker, Burns was successful with some big punches early in the first, only to then tire himself out after attempting so many knockout punches. This resulted in Hooker taking advantage and getting the TKO later in the round. The same happened in this bout with Usman, only Burns somehow managed to survive longer this time around.
“I am the best on the planet for a reason”
In true braggadocios-champion style, Kamaru did not hold back singing his own praises after emphatically defeating top contender Burns. In his post-fight interview, whilst he somewhat acknowledges Burns catching him in the first round – he mostly credits the slippery cage floor for his stumble – he states how it showed he is the “champion for a reason”.
He explains this by saying how his ability to recompose himself after the early scare and stick to the gameplan was a factor in the victory; an ability he claims he does “better than anybody”. At this point, it’s hard to argue against that.
Throughout the fight, Usman’s jab caused a real problem for Burns. Usman emphasises this by saying how his jabs “feel like straight right hands” and that his coaches have been telling him how his jab is “tremendous”.
He further mentions how he has been working a lot on it, and that his coaches have been telling him to use it more – something I’m sure we will continue to see after finding so much success with it on Saturday.
“That’s a champion”
As per with any sporting event in modern times, many people had their say after witnessing this highly-anticipated fight that certainly did not disappoint.
MMA blog, Bloody Elbow, credited Usman’s “Fight IQ” for remaining calm despite being rocked early at ufc 258 fight night. They continue to say how the fight showcased his “championship heart & savvy” and state how his patience – even after gaining control – resulted in him getting the win.
Likewise, on the Morning Kombat podcast after UFC 258, Luke Thomas said how Usman’s “grit” and “composure” after getting an early “beating” by Burns was the leading factor in this fight. “That’s a champion” Thomas firmly says, who seemed just as impressed with Kamaru as we all were.
On the other hand, former Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz also believes that it was Usman’s guard-cutting jab that helped him get the victory. On top of this, Cruz also explains how Usman’s ability to successfully jab in both stances picked Burns apart.
What’s next for both fighters?
With this impressive win, Usman is now 13-0 since entering the UFC, breaking Hall of Fame fighter Georges St Pierre’s (GSP) record for most consecutive welterweight victories in the UFC.
However, as Ariel Helwani says, he is not the Welterweight goat “yet”. The reason? Usman has successfully defended his belt three times, GSP defended it nine times. Despite this, nothing can take away from the fact that Usman is dominating the Welterweight division right now.
After the fight, Usman called out Jorge Masvidal, setting up an exciting rematch between the two. I feel this is what Usman is going to have to continue to do in order to reach Welterweight GOAT status – fight everyone again. That would make the headlines in ufc news.
Rematches with the likes of Masvidal, as well as running it back with Colby Covington, Leon Edwards and most likely Gilbert Burns at some point would prove that these past victories weren’t a fluke.
On the other hand, there are still some fighters in the division that Usman has not yet fought that would benefit his GOAT cause should he beat them, such as Stephen Thompson, Michael Chiesa and even Nathan Diaz. Maybe even GSP should he come out of retirement – but let’s not get too excited for that prospect.
Gilbert Burns ufc news
Meanwhile, for Burns, it’s all about picking yourself up and learning from past experiences.
Despite being 34, Gilbert is without a doubt still a terrifying match-up for anyone in the Welterweight division – just look at how he dominated former champion Tyron Woodley and caused problems, albeit brief, for Usman early on.
Simply put, Burns needs to work on his composure. This has happened against Hooker and now Usman at ufc 258, where he smells blood and then swings for the fences in an attempt to get the knockout, resulting in him getting gassed out and then punished for it.
Had Burns stayed calm and not tired himself out, he could’ve stayed lighter on his feet to avoid Usman’s killer jab, which was ultimately the downfall for Burns in the fight.
With Usman calling out Masvidal, the right fight for Burns would be a fellow contender to prove that he still has what it takes to challenge for the title again. If Usman does fight Masvidal, a fight between Burns and Covington would be a great way to decide who then fights the winner. Plus, the idea of a fight between two heavy-hitters such as Burns and Covington is enticing to any UFC fan.
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