The welterweight monarchy has been settled and Kamaru Usman is still at the top of the food chain, after a spectacular performance saw him defeat Gilbert Burns at UFC 258.
The two former Blackzilians teammates met in the main event with the welterweight championship on the line, with many believing that the former lightweight would pose the biggest threat to the Nigerian Nightmare’s crown.
It looked like that might be the case too, as the first big punch of the fight that was thrown by Burns and rocked Usman more than he’s ever shown in a fight before. He was clearly stunned by the punch and used his jab to circle away and shake the cobwebs, which ended up being the pattern of the rest of the fight.
Interestingly enough Usman refused to engage with Burns on the ground when he did get him down on a few occasions, instead opting to throw kicks from a standing position and the odd body shot too. From then on, Burns seemed to buzz Usman whenever he landed the overhand right but the champ took the fight over with his jab.
He dropped him several times in round two with it, switching stances and landing power shots including a beautiful pull right-hand counter that rocked Burns to the point of him doing a dance. He ended up getting the finish early in the third round, having dropped Burns with another jab and then ground and pounding him until Herb Dean stepped in.
It was a tremendous performance from the 33-year-old, who moved ahead of Georges St-Pierre for most consecutive wins in the welterweight divisions at 13 while also tying Khabib Nurmagomedov for best start to a UFC career with 13 wins. Only Anderson Silva went longer before tasting defeat in the octagon, with 16 wins.
The win proved to many what they already believed, Usman is levels above everyone else in the welterweight division. It means he has now defeated six of the current top eight ranked 170lbers in the company, more than any other champion.
He called out Jorge Masvidal for a rematch following back and forth online, stating that he wants ‘Street Jesus’ to have no excuses this time so he can finish him and shut his mouth. He finished the “call out” by also stating that “any of these fools can get it” if it ends up being someone else. While that fight is possible, he’s also got the likes of Leon Edwards, Colby Covington, Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson and Michael Chiesa chomping at the bit for a shot at his gold.
A performance like that, with a resume like his and the potential challenges going forward that he has, Usman is well on his way to cementing G.O.A.T status in his division.
In the co-main event, Maycee Barber’s return to action was spoiled by an excellent boxing display from Alexa Grasso as she toughed out a unanimous decision win. Grasso landed crisper strikes and showed that flyweight is her natural weight class as she was able to hold her own in the clinch exchanges and even showed some excellent grappling transitions in the second round too.
Grasso will move into the top ten now where a fight against the likes of Viviane Araujo become a fun prospect, while Barber’s chances of becoming the youngest UFC champion in history are completely over now if they weren’t already before this.
She will have to go back to the drawing board, but she showed enough toughness and skill at just 22-years-old to prove that she will be around for a long time and will only get better as time goes on.