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UFC 258 | Squared Up: Usman vs Burns
Predictions & Analysis
Main Event Breakdown
By Jason Paglia

The UFC is back at the Apex once again this Saturday for UFC 258 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Saturday’s main event will be one of the better main events we have seen the past 12 months, and personally I can’t wait for it. It should be a banger when UFC welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman squares up against Gilbert Burns for the welterweight strap. These intros are so tedious, I’m done now….

KAMARU USMAN (17-1) vs GILBERT BURNS (19-3)

KAMARU USMAN
― STATS ―
•Method of Victory •Significant Strikes (per/min) •Takedowns
▪7 wins by TKO ▪ 4.50 Landed ▪ 47.47% Accuracy
▪9 wins by Decision ▪ 2.23 Absorbed ▪ 100% Defended
▪1 win by Submission

― PROS ―
• Wrestling (The best MMA wrestler at 170lbs in the world, full stop.)
• Stamina (Usman sets an incredible tempo for 15 or 25 minutes. Aside from the wrestling advantage that he has, this is probably his 2nd biggest advantage, he doesn’t stop working.)
• Takedown Defense (Kamaru Usman has a 100% takedown defense in the UFC…. Meaning he has never been brought to the ground against his own will through every fight he has had in the UFC. That is…. Ummmmm…… ridiculous.)

― CONS ―
• Footwork (His footwork is great if he is trying to walk through your offense to take you down. However, his striking footwork leaves a lot to be desired. He is not a technical striker. As a by-product of that, he does not have good technical footwork.)
• Striking (Usman is not a great striker. If there is an area of Usman’s striking that excels it’s most definitely his clinch work. His body work and over the top elbow work is as good as it gets, but at range he still needs work.

GILBERT BURNS

― STATS ―
•Method of Victory •Significant Strikes (per/min) •Takedowns
▪6 wins by TKO ▪ 3.15 Landed ▪ 37.37% Accuracy
▪5 wins by Decision ▪ 2.74 Absorbed ▪ 50% Defended
▪8 win by Submission
― PROS ―
• Jiu Jitsu (The best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu artist inside the cage at 170lbs in the world, period. .)
• Striking (Over the last 6 fights, Burns’ striking has evolved substantially. H is accuracy, hand speed and technique have gotten much better which in-turn has made him more powerful.)
• Footwork (His footwork, and specifically in regards to his striking has looked much better on his current run. Always circles away from the strong hand side, and dips well off the counter.)

― CONS ―
• Takedown Defense (His biggest issue that he will need to get over come Saturday are the takedowns attempts that Usman will try in the clinch against the cage. He has shown some issues with that in the past and he will really have to hone in on those attempts early in this fight.)
• Stamina (To be clear, Burns has solid cardio. Against any other fighter this wouldn’t even be an issue, but he is fighting a guy that literally doesn’t tire , ever. Usman has broken people with excellent cardio before, thus the reason why I bring Gilbert’s cardio up now.)

THE VERDICT
WELL, I THINK THE FIRST THING THAT NEEDS TO BE SAID IS KAMARU USMAN IS A CHAMPION ON A 16 FIGHT WIN STREAK AND HE DESERVES TO BE THE FAVORITE IN THIS SPOT.
THE QUESTION BECOMES IS HOW BIG A FAVORITE SHOULD HE BE, AND WHERE DOES THE VALUE FLIP TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS FIGHT. IN MY OPINION, I DON’T THINK USMAN SHOULD BE BIGGER THAN A 2 DOLLAR FAVORITE IN THIS FIGHT, WHICH WOULD MAKE THE COMEBACK ON BURNS SOMEWHERE AROUND +170.
THE CURRENT ODDS HAVE BURNS AT +240 IAND THAT’S JUST TOO BIG OF A FAVORITE HERE. SO, WHAT DO WE KNOW? WE KNOW THAT BOTH FIGHTERS HAVE BEEN SPARRING PARTNERS TOGETHER FOR YEARS, AND THEY KNOW EACH OTHER INSIDE AND OUT,
BUT WHO HAS THE ADVANTAGE IN BEING AROUND EACH OTHER? IT HAS TO BE BURNS BECAUSE USMAN HAS NEVER DEFENDED A BELT AGAINST ANYONE THAT HAS KNOWN HIM AS WELL AS BURNS KNOWS HIM. YOU HAVE TO THINK THAT BURNS IS PLAYING WITH HOUSE MONEY ANYWAY BECAUSE HE’S TRYING TO WIN HIS FIRST BELT, AND HE KNOWS USMAN AS WELL AS ANYONE KNOWN HIM INSIDE THE CAGE.

WE KNOW THAT USMAN IS THE BEST WRESTLER AT 170LBS, AND WE KNOW THAT USMAN HAS A DECENT STANDUP GAME WITH OK POWER. WE ALSO KNOW THAT GILBER BURNS IS THE BEST IN THE WORLD INSIDE THAT CAGE AT BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU AT 170LBS AND IT’S NOT EVEN CLOSE.

ONE FACTOR THAT I BELIEVE GETS LOST IN HOW GOOD BURNS IS ON THE GROUND IS HOW MUCH HIS STRIKING GAME HAS EVOLVED OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS. HE NOW CARRIES MORE POWER AND HAS FASTER HANDS THAN USMAN.

AS FAR AS THESE GUYS ON THE GROUND, IF USMAN TRIES TO TAKE BURNS DOWN AND RIDE HIM OUT LIKE HE DID TO WOODLEY AND MASVIDAL, HE WILL HAVE TO DEAL WITH CONSTANT SUBMISSION ATTEMPTS FROM BURNS OFF HIS BACK. DO I THINK USMAN CAN STILL WIN THE FIGHT AND NOT GET SUBMITTED? YEA OF COURSE HE CAN, BUT HE WILL AT LEAST BE FACED WITH A DIFFERENT CHALLENGE THAN HE HAS DEALT WITH THE PAST FEW FIGHTS.
USMAN KNOWS HIS PATH TO VICTORY IS CLINCHING BURNS AGAINST THE CAGE, GETTING HIM TIRED AND WORKING TAKEDOWNS UNTIL HE SUCKS THE LIFE OUT OF BURNS LIKE HE DOES EVERYONE ELSE. ON HIS BEST DAY CAN HE DO THAT TO BURNS? YES, THATS WHY HE DESERVES TO BE THE FAVORITE.
HOWEVER, IF BURNS CAN KEEP HIS DISTANCE, AND THE MAJORITY OF THIS FIGHT IS ON THE FEET LIKE THE COLBY COVINGTON FIGHT, THEN I THINK USMAN CAN EASILY GET DROPPED AND KNOCKED OUT. I WENT BACK AND WATCHED THE COVINGTON FIGHT AGAIN, AND IT’S AMAZING HOW MANY TIMES THAT COVINGTON WAS ABLE TO LAND CLEAN EXCHANGES ON USMAN.
THE PROBLEM IS COVINGTON CARRIES NO POWER. IF GILBERT BURNS GETS CLEAR LOOKS LIKE COVIINGTON AND EVEN MASVIDAL DID TO A CERTAIN EXTENT, THEN I THINK BURNS CAN HURT HIM, BECAUSE GILBERT BURNS HAS LEGITIMATE POWER AT 170LBS.
MY HOPE IS USMAN THINKS HE CAN KNOCK BURNS OUT AND THIS STAYS ON THE FEET, BECAUSE IT’S NOT OUT OF THE REALM OF POSSIBILITY THAT USMAN WANTS TO AVOID THE GROUND WITH BURNS BECAUSE HE KNOWS BETTER THAN ANYONE IN MMA HOW DANGEROUS GILBERT BURNS IS ON THE MAT.
IF THAT MAKES USMAN CAUTIOUS, AND MAKES HIM KEEP THIS FIGHT ON THE FEET LONGER THAN NORMAL I THINK WE ARE IN GREAT SHAPE TO CASH A NICE UNDERDOG ON SATURDAY.

JAY’S PICK
GILBERT BURNS (+240) 0.5u
GILBERT BURNS by KO/TKO (+750) 0.5u

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