UFC 258 takes place on Saturday night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns
This is a highly competitive welterweight title clash between two fighters at the peak of their powers who know each other extremely well, having trained together for a long time in the not so distant past.
Both men are very well rounded athletes. Usman is a very strong wrestler, works well in the clinch, has excellent endurance and his striking has developed nicely too. He’s more of a volume striker than a big finisher, but his pace and output while maintaining a good defense makes him hard to deal with.
Burns can also handle himself wherever the fight goes. His best suit is certainly his top-of-the-food-chain jiu-jitsu, but he’s also a capable wrestler and like Usman has done well to level up his striking, utilizing a pressure-heavy, high-volume offensive style.
So, we have two formidable fighters here that are likely to push each other to their limits in the Octagon, but only one can emerge victorious and I’m going to side with Usman here.
There’s a few reasons for that. One is of course the fact that it’s hard to argue with the fact Usman has gone 12-fights undefeated in the UFC, not including also winning TUF, while Burns has been on fire lately, but does have three losses in the Octagon.
On the feet Usman has a 5″ reach advantage to play with and he’s already shown he can handle a similar high volume cardio machine in Colby Covington, whose jaw he dismantled, although to his credit I think Burns is more dangerous on the feet than he was.
Meanwhile, Usman does hold both the wrestling and clinch advantage and is very physically strong, so even although I think he may not want to lean on his mat work as much as usual due to Burns exceptional submission skills, I do think he can make use of it if the striking battle isn’t going in his favor, and overall I’m taking him to do enough to edge out a decision victory here.
Pick: Kamaru Usman wins by decision.
Maycee Barber vs. Alexa Grasso
An unexpected loss to Roxanne Modafferi may have taken a little of the steam out of Barber’s hype train, but she was clearly suffering during that fight after tearing an ACL and so she’ll be eager to prove that was just a one-off as she looks to get back to winning ways on Saturday night.
On the other hand, Grasso moved up to flyweight last time out and looked good, but in her UFC run so far she’s never managed to string two victories together in a row, so there’s no time like the present to make good on that.
Grasso is the slicker striker of the two, operating well on the outside with her speed and technique, but she doesn’t have much power in her shots, while on the mat if she’s on her back she’ll just attempt to stall the action and get back upright.
Barber is more of a brute-force striker, applying lots of pressure and carrying a good deal of power for the division, but she is very hittable. Barber can also be an imposing force on the mat with her wrestling and thumping ground-and-pound, which could pay dividends in this match-up.
If Grasso can keep Barber at bay on the feet then she has a good chance to outpoint her here, but I don’t think there’s enough sting in her shots to really deter ‘The Future’ from barreling forward and landing the more impactful blows, while also getting close enough to initiate takedowns, where she can likely reap the most rewards, leading to a decision victory.
Pick: Maycee Barber wins by decision.
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Ian Heinisch
Despite being a notable player in the middleweight division, Gastelum is coming off a three-fight losing streak, while Heinisch got back to winning ways last time out after having suffered back-to-back defeats.
A former welterweight who was forced to move up after repeated weight-cutting issues, Gastelum has often being undersized in his 185lb match-ups, but that’s not so much the case here as he has the same reach as Heinisch and is only giving up 2″ in height.
Even against bigger opponents, Gastelum has been able to make up the difference well at times thanks to his explosive movement and fast hands, together with carrying good power in his left hand.
Heinisch has good wrestling, but has spent time out in Thailand working on his muay thai and has showed improvements in his striking since.
Still, I think Heinisch will come off second best standing against Gastelum’s speed and power, while he also has solid takedown defense, so I like him to keep this one on the feet and win the striking exchanges to earn a win on the scorecards.
Pick: Kelvin Gastelum wins by decision.
Jim Miller vs. Bobby Green
After some shuffling to the main card following the loss of the Pedro Munhoz vs. Jimmie Rivera fight, two UFC veterans Miller and Green have now been promoted to a PPV spot.
For most of 2020, Green was enjoying a welcome resurgence in the sport, racking up three wins in a row, but then dropped a decision loss to Thiago Moises in October, while Miller only mustered one win in his three fights over the course of the year, though it was a notable submission finish against Roosevelt Roberts.
Miller truly is part of the furniture in the UFC, with the 37-year-old set to earn the distinction of having more fights that anyone else in the history of the promotion when he sets foot in the Octagon on Saturday night.
It’s to his credit that despite all those fights he still remains durable and his many years of experience only help make him all the more dangerous on the mat, where he’s at his best in top control and hunting for submissions, though he’s also a decent striker.
Green is an experienced campaigner too though and he’s the better boxer here, will be the quicker of the two and is effective on the counter.
Green also has solid takedown defense and he’ll need to keep that sharp to avoid having to deal with Miller’s crafty submission threat as he outstrikes him on the feet to win on points.
Pick: Bobby Green wins by decision.
Julian Marquez vs. Maki Pitolo
A fully torn latissimus dorsi threatened to end Marquez’s career over two-and-a-half years ago, but thankfully the damage has healed and after some matchmaking setbacks he finally gets back into the Octagon on Saturday night against Pitolo, who has only won win in four UFC outings so far.
Though they prefer to fight on the feet, neither is especially technical in their striking, but they do have plenty of venom in their punches and are not afraid to get into a firefight.
Though he’s 4″ shorter than Marquez, Pitolo has a 1.5″ reach advantage and he does like to work on the outside. Marquez will maraud forward though in order to land his own power punches and traditionally has had a good chin.
Marquez likely has an advantage on the mat here and Pitolo’s submission defense isn’t the best, so that could be a factor here, but despite concerns regarding ringrust I’ll take the returning fighter to land some heavy blows on the feet that lead him to a second round TKO stoppage.
Pick: Julian Marquez wins by TKO in Rd2
Rodolfo Vieira vs. Anthony Hernandez
Dhiego Lima vs. Belal Muhammad
Mallory Martin vs. Polyana Viana
Andre Ewell vs. Chris Gutierrez
Ricky Simon vs. Brian Kelleher
Gabriel Green vs. Phillip Rowe
Gillian Robertson vs. Miranda Maverick