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UFC 258: Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns Main Event Preview

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One of the most anticipated fights in the UFC is finally happening this weekend! Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns at long last! In a battle of former teammates, one will walk away with Usman’s welterweight championship.

Usman and Burns were set to face off at UFC 251 in July, but after Burns contracted coronavirus 10 days before the fight, the Brazilian had to be pulled from the card. Jorge Masvidal stepped in for Gilbert, however the Nigerian dominated the fight to win by unanimous decision and retain his title. We also expected to see this one at UFC 256 in December, however it was reported that Usman pulled out from the bout, citing more time needed to recover from undisclosed injuries.

After understanding they were going to be facing each other, Usman left Sanford MMA back in June, and headed to Colorado alongside trainer Trevor Wittman. This fight has all the characteristics to be a classic, and the question is, can Burns finally be the man to take that belt off Usman?

Kamaru Usman

“The Nigerian Nightmare” holds a 17-1 record, is still undefeated in the UFC, and currently holds a 12-fight win streak. After winning The Ultimate Fighter back in 2015, Usman has turned into one of the most dominating fighters in the MMA game.

He’s beat the likes of Leon Edwards, Warlley Alves, Demian Maia, and Rafael dos Anjos on his journey towards a title. He finally got the chance when he faced Tyron Woodley back in March 2019. It was a dominating display from Kamaru as he controlled Tyron throughout the fight, winning by a completely deserved unanimous decision.

Usman walking tall to his corner. Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 02: (L-R) Kamaru Usman of Nigeria walks back to his corner after the first round of his welterweight championship bout against Tyron Woodley during the UFC 235 event at T-Mobile Arena on March 2, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

A second title defence came against Colby Covington and the hate between these guys was REAL! They seriously despised each other and they showed it when they went to war at UFC 245. This fight had more stand up compared to the Woodley fight, and at times, Colby threw some powerful shots and he proved Kamaru can be hurt. This guy’s a champion for a reason though and with it looking level going into the fifth round, Usman showed his ridiculous power by knocking out Covington in the final round.

As previously mentioned, Masvidal replaced Burns back at UFC 251, and this fight was a complete domination by Usman. It wasn’t close to the slugfest we witnessed against Colby, as we didn’t get to see the excitement both of these fighters could bring. Usman just went out there to win, not to entertain, as he clinched and stomped on the feet of Masvidal throughout the fight to win by unanimous decision and retain his title yet again.

Gilbert Burns

What an opportunity this is for Gilbert Burns! The Brazilian has had some cruel defeats in his career, and now he’s found his feet in the right division and showing what he can really do.

After joining the UFC back in 2014, he started in the welterweight division beating Andreas Stahl on a unanimous decision. Next fight, he opted to move down to lightweight, and after a two-fight win streak, he then lost to Rashid Magomedov to give him a 10-1 record. In his next five fights, he was defeated twice, one of which involved getting knocked out by New Zealand native Dan Hooker.

In August 2019, Burns made a change, he moved back up to welterweight. He has not regretted that decision. After a three-fight win streak against the likes of Alexey Kunchenko, Gunnar Nelson, and Demian Maia. Burns had the opportunity to face former-champ Tyron Woodley.

Burns landing a punch on Woodley. Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MAY 30: In this handout provided by UFC, (L-R) Gilbert Burns of Brazil punches Tyron Woodley in their welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 30, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

After watching his fight against Woodley, it proved that Burns had been fighting in the wrong division for several years. He was so dominant against Woodley, fighting similar to the ways Kamaru did against Tyron. And that’s precisely how the judges saw it when they scored the fight 50-45, 50-44, and 50-44 in favour of Burns, which were the exact same scores as Usman vs Woodley.

The Matchup

If anyone can beat Usman right now, Gilbert Burns is the best shout for it. The pressure Burns put up against Woodley is exactly what he needs to do against Usman. We all know the pace and power of Usman, and Burns can definitely prevent that. He stopped Tyron from bringing his A-game. He pushed Woodley up against the cage, threw some dangerous shots, and either took him down or put him in a clinch to control the fight.

We also have to remember that both of these fighters have trained together, so they’re going to know just as much as anyone what they’re up against. They’ll know some things we don’t, like who’s had the better of each other in training. This may make one of the fighters more confident in this matchup, or perhaps one could underestimate the other.

We also know how extremely strong Usman is, and how he seems pretty much impossible to take down. With Gilbert’s all-round abilities to stand up and wrestle, it could be the time Usman isn’t in control.

Usman will surely play to his strengths though and look to take Burns down and control this fight. Burns has come on leaps and bounds throughout the years, as the former Jiu-Jitsu World Champion is in the best form of his MMA career.

It’s key for Burns to mix up this fight. He’s got powerful jabs and a quality ground-game. We don’t know how Usman will react to being taken down, if that even happens. This could be a worry that Kamaru and Burns take advantage of.

Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns Prediction

This is one of the toughest fights ever to predict. Burns is unpredictable. We’ve seen him lose three times in the UFC, but we’ve never seen him fight to this standard. As stated before, he was in the wrong division. Now he’s fighting at a bigger weight, where he’s unbeaten in his last four fights.

Usman has pretty much always looked unbeatable. There were a few scares for Kamaru against Colby, but other than that he’s dominated elite fighters like Woodley and Masvidal.

For me, I’ve got to go with my head and go for the Usman win via unanimous decision. It’s such a big step for Gilbert, and I’m quite sure these two have learnt from each other over the years and will know each other’s strengths. This is a big reason I think Kamaru comes out on top.

I feel Kamaru will without a doubt play to his strengths and look to take Gilbert down to the ground. He will compete similar to the way he did against Masvidal, where he kept Jorge up against the cage as he clinched his way to victory. He won’t look to entertain; he will look to win. As will Gilbert, but I don’t think Usman will let that happen. Burns is going to be tougher than Jorge and it’s going to be tough to control him for 25 minutes. But this weekend we will finally see how it all pans out!

Agree or disagree with my Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns prediction? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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