With another night of fantastic fights in the books, it’s time to reflect and discuss our UFC 258 takeaways!
The whole card was full of action from top to bottom. In the prelims, Gabe Green earned a unanimous decision win over Philip Rowe. Chris Gutierrez followed that up with a unanimous decision win of his own against Andre Ewell. Polyana Viana earned the first finish of the night with an armbar victory over Mallory Martin. Belal Muhammad put up an impressive performance in his unanimous decision win over Dhiego Lima. Then Anthony Hernandez shocked everyone when he submitted Rodolfo Vieira with an arm-in guillotine choke in the final prelim fight of the night.
The main card started with an impressive comeback by Julian Marquez over Maki Pitolo by way of an anaconda choke. Next, Ricky Simon dominated Brian Kelleher on his way to a unanimous decision win. Then Kelvin Gastelum earned a much needed unanimous decision victory over Ian Heinisch. Alexa Grasso followed that up with an impressive unanimous decision win over Maycee Barber in the co-main event. In the main event, Kamaru Usman successfully defended his welterweight title against Gilbert Burns, winning by TKO in the third round.
Now that we’ve recapped the night’s festivities, let’s get to our takeaways from the event!
UFC 258 Takeaways
1. Kamaru Usman Is Headed Towards Legend Status
Kamaru Usman did something that many people did not expect him to do against Gilbert Burns. He stepped into the octagon and chose to keep the fight standing for most of the fight, foregoing his usual gameplan of wrestling his opponents to victory. Usman showcased his striking abilities, led by a beautiful jab, to get the TKO win over his former teammate in the third round.
With that win, Usman is 18-1 and is the owner of impressive victories against guys like Burns, Jorge Masvidal, Colby Covington, Tyron Woodley, Rafael Dos Anjos, and Demian Maia. He has already built an incredible resume in just six years inside the UFC and it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down any time soon. We may just be looking at the next Anderson Silva or Khabib Nurmagomedov just as he’s entering his prime.
It’s not clear who Usman will be facing next, although there are rumors it could be Masvidal again. These rumors mostly surround them possibly being the two coaches for the return of The Ultimate Fighter, the show where Usman got his start in the UFC. However, regardless of who he faces, if he keeps putting on stellar performances as he has recently, we’ll be talking about him going down as one of the greatest fighters of all time in just a few years.
2. Alexa Grasso Has Found Her Home at Flyweight
Alexa Grasso looked very impressive in her win over Maycee Barber. Grasso showed off her stellar boxing and takedown defense against a bigger Barber. Grasso lost the third round but it didn’t matter in the end as she won by unanimous decision on the strength of the first two rounds.
This is Grasso’s second fight at flyweight and she has never looked better. She will be looking to take Barber’s 10th ranked spot on the UFC flyweight rankings when they are updated and it would be hard to argue that she doesn’t deserve it. With two straight victories inside the division, Grasso will have her eyes set on an even bigger target for her next fight.
Ahead of Grasso in the division is a who’s who of flyweight fighters, so she will have her work cut out for her. However, if the last two fights are any indication, Grasso is certainly ready for the challenge.
3. Kelvin Gastelum Looked Rejuvenated and Ready To Go on Another Run
Kelvin Gastelum is back in the win column! After three straight defeats, including a loss to Israel Adesanya for the interim middleweight title, Gastelum has earned his first win since 2018. Gastelum returned to form against Ian Heinisch, implementing his gameplan to perfection for a unanimous decision win.
Heinisch put up a hell of a performance but Gastelum was just the better fighter in all aspects of the game. When standing, Gastelum seemed to take everything Heinisch could throw like it was nothing. On the ground, Gastelum defended well whenever Heinisch went for submissions and controlled the action whenever he was on top. Gastelum also managed to take Heinisch down with ease often.
He has all of the tools in his arsenal so if Gastelum can put forth this type of performance every outing, we’ll see him fighting for the middleweight title again in the near future.
4. Ricky Simon Can Hang With Top Bantamweights
Ricky Simon spent 15 minutes controlling the fight against Brian Kelleher on his way to an impressive unanimous decision win. Simon took Kelleher down within a minute of the fight starting, landing a heavy hammer fist in the process that opened a cut above Kelleher’s eye. That cut clearly affected Kelleher, as he was wiping blood from his face the rest of the fight.
Simon controlled the pace throughout the whole fight, often pushing Kelleher back to the cage whenever the fight was standing, and taking the fight to the ground with ease at times. Simon made sure that Kelleher was never comfortable at any point during the fight and it showed.
Simon has his work cut out for him in the bantamweight division. He’s currently not in the top-15 and will likely need another big win or two to get there. However, Simon has the perfect skill set to succeed in this division. He will assuredly face a step up in competition in his next fight and you can bet that he will be ready to jump in there and push the pace.
5. Julian Marquez Is Exactly What the Middleweight Division Needs
What a comeback by Julian Marquez! After a long break from fighting due to a brutal injury, Marquez returned to the octagon ready for war. Maki Pitolo gave Marquez everything he could handle. Pitolo was winning the first two rounds and seemingly was on his way to a decision win when Marquez took over late in the third round.
Marquez started landing shot after shot, wobbling Pitolo multiple times before taking the fight to the ground. Once on the ground, Marquez quickly went to work and sunk in an anaconda choke that had Pitolo tapping just moments later. At long last, the comeback was complete.
It wasn’t a perfect performance, as Marquez himself will tell you, but it was impressive nonetheless. Marquez has the hands, grappling, heart, and personality to set the middleweight division on fire for years to come. And if he has his way, Miley Cyrus will be right along with him for the journey.
What were your biggest UFC 258 takeaways? Let us know in the comments below!
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Featured Image Credit to Embed from Getty Images.