This weekend will mark the second pay-per-view of the year for the UFC with UFC 258 headlined by the defending Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman defending against the number one ranked Welterweight Gilbert Burns.
This will be the third time Usman will look to defend his Welterweight strap, and it will be the first title shot for Gilbert Burns.
With the champion currently sitting as a -290 favorite, is there any way Gilbert Burns can hand Kamaru Usman only his second loss and walk out of UFC 258 as the new Welterweight Champion?
The short answer to that question is yes.
These two fighters have a distinct history as training partners and therefore know each other’s ins and outs. Before we discuss why Burns has the ability to beat Usman stylistically, let’s first take into account how each man enters the fight. Usman is riding high after defeating Jorge Masvidal last July and will now look to defend his title for the third time. Usman is still undefeated in the UFC and has not lost a bout since his only professional loss back in 2013.
Burns is also coming into this fight on a winning streak. Burns had won his last six bouts and was originally supposed to be Usman’s July challenger before an extended battle with COVID-19 kept him from competing since last May. Both men are refreshed and ready to fight and find out who the better man is.
In terms of how the fight will play out, the adage of “styles make fights” will reign supreme.
The intriguing thing about this fight is that both men have very similar styles.
Usman possesses true strength in the clinch and on the ground should he choose to use his wrestling background to take the fight to the ground. He can normally keep his fighters either against the cage or on the ground as he is the one to dictate where the fight usually takes place. The problem that presents Usman in this fight is that Burns is more than willing to go to the ground. Burns has incredible jiu-jitsu and would absolutely look to use it if Usman takes him down. In terms of where they will want to fight, Usman will most likely want the fight to be against the cage rather than the ground, and it will be the exact opposite for Burns.
Another angle to look at this fight from would be striking.
When two elite grapplers face-off, the fight usually goes one of two ways. The fight is either a test of the grappling and control where one man proves they are the better grappler, or they both throw caution, the grappling, to the wind and strike for as long as they can.
Take, for example, Usman’s first defense against another incredible grappler in Colby Covington.
Both men traded punches for the entire fight until Usman won via TKO late in the fifth round. There’s no real way to predict if this is how the fight will play out, but if that is the case, both men would be on somewhat equal ground.
So is there a way for Burns to defeat Usman? Absolutely.
If Burns can keep the fight standing and avoid the clinch along the cage, he will have a real chance to beat Usman.
If the fight goes to the ground, he will need to utilize his incredible ground game to throw some Usman submissions. All in all, this should be a great main event fight.
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