UFC 258: Usman vs Burns – Tips & Preview

Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns, Welterweight, Main Event
Usman by KO/Points $1.52

Usman opens as the commanding $1.35 favourite here, with Burns currently out at $3.10.

The Nigerian has had a storied career to date, entering this bout with an impressive 17-1 career record. He is 11-0 since joining the UFC, earning the title two years ago before defending it twice so far.

Known primarily for his elite speed and power, he has 7 knockouts and 9 submissions to his name so far. He has faced a murderer’s row of opponents of late, defeating Maia, dos Anjos, Woodley, Covington, and Masvidal in his last 5.

Gilbert Burns has also had an impressive MMA career, entering this bout with a 19-3 career record. He has showed great versatility, recording 6 knockouts, 8 submissions, and 5 decisions so far.

Having fought a lot at Lightweight, his return to Welterweight two years ago has seen an uptick in form. Recent wins over Nelson, Maia, and Woodley show that he’s at the top of his game right now.

Overall, I think Usman is the best fighter in the Welterweight division and I’m backing him for a third title defense. He has the strong edge in a striking battle and is experienced enough on the ground to get out of trouble.

He has a noticeable size and reach advantage, which I expect him to make use of early and often. I wouldn’t expect a submission here, so to get better value I like the KO/Points double chance market paying $1.52.

Alexa Grasso vs Maycee Barber, Women’s Flyweight, Co-Main
Barber $2.05

Alexa Grasso opens as the $1.77 favourite here, with Maycee Barber the slight $2.05 underdog.

Grasso has had a strong first 15 career fights, recording a 12-3 record so far. 8 of those wins have come by decision, with the other 4 coming by KO. She made her Flyweight debut last time out, a relatively impressive decision win over Ji Yeon Kim.

Her opponent, Maycee Barber, enters this bout with an 8-1 career record. She has 5 knockouts, 2 submissions, and 1 decision so far.

She won the first 8 fights of her career, before losing by decision last time out. She has been out of the octagon for over a year, recovering from a knee injury.

I’m going to take Barber here, on the premise that she’s undervalued after her injury. Her record is better than Grasso and she’s much more likely to get the finish, which could come in to play. She has certain matchup advantages both on the feet and on the ground, so I’ll happily take her at plus money.

Kelvin Gastelum vs Ian Heinisch, Middleweight
Gastelum by Points $2

Gastelum opens here as the $1.48 favourite, with Heinisch out at $2.65.

Gastelum enters this fight with a 15-6-1 record, having lost each of his last 3 fights. He has 6 knockouts, 4 submissions, and 5 decisions to his name so far.

While his recent form is troubling, these were against top quality opponents in the form of Adesanya, Till, and Hermansson. He does have experience in beating quality opponents, having beaten Hendricks, Bisping, and Jacare in the past.

His opponent, Ian Heinisch, enters the contest with a 14-3 record. This includes 5 knockouts, 2 submissions, and 7 decision wins.

He joined the UFC in 2018 after winning the Contender series, where he has gone 3-2 so far. This is probably his highest profile fight to date, having previously lost to Brunson and Akhmedov.

I think the odds are about right here, but I’ll go for some extra value and take Gastelum by points at $2. He’s the better overall fighter here and should win straight up, but I’m not sure he gets the finish.

Gastelum doesn’t appear to have the power that he once did and Heinisch has only been finished once in 17 fights. Given Kelvin’s poor form of late, I think he’ll be a bit more conservative here, employing a lower-risk style that lends itself to a decision win.