UFC 258: Usman vs. Burns main card picks and predictions.
Ricky Simon (17-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) vs. Brian Kelleher (22-11 MMA, 6-4 UFC)
Simon vs. Kelleher is a bout in the UFC’s featherweight division. While Simon is known for pushing the pace and using his wrestling to get the victory, he will have to tread carefully with this style against Keller, due to the fact that he specializes in guillotine chokes and has caught many opponents prior with it when they shoot in for a takedown. Both fighters share the same height at 5’6″ however, Simon will hold a six-inch reach advantage over Kelleher.
Prediction: Kelleher via Submission (Round 2)
Julian Marquez (7-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) vs. Maki Pitolo (13-7 MMA, 1-3 UFC)
Marquez vs. Pitolo is a bout in the UFC’s middleweight division. Marquez, 30, will be making his return against Pitolo after being out for nearly two and a half years due to injuries and pullouts from fights. Pitolo, 30, has lost his last two fights. However, he has maintained a busy schedule, and has taken on only tough opponents since joining the UFC back in October of 2019. Marquez will hold a four-inch height advantage over Pitolo. Pitolo will have a one and a half inch reach advantage over his opponent.
Prediction: Pitolo via KO/TKO (Round 2)
Kelvin Gastelum (16-6 MMA, 10-6 UFC) vs. Ian Heinisch (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC)
Gastelum vs. Heinisch is a bout in the UFC’s middleweight division. Gastelum, due to his experience, holds almost all of the advantages over Heinisch going into this bout. Having fought the tougher competition in his UFC career, won The Ultimate Fighter 17, and fought Israel Adesanya for the interim middleweight world title, Gastelum’s resume speaks for itself. The X-factor for Heinisch going into this bout is that he’s coming off a first-round knockout over Gerald Meerschart last June, while his opponent has lost his last three fights.
Prediction: Gastelum via Decision
Maycee Barber (8-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) vs. Alexa Grasso (12-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC)
Barber vs. Grasso is a bout in the UFC’s women’s flyweight division. Barber suffered her first pro career loss in her last bout against Roxanne Modafferi, last January. During the fight, she tore her ACL. This will be her first fight back since suffering the loss and the injury. Grasso has struggled throughout her UFC career against wrestlers. Having previously lost to dominant wrestlers in Carla Esparza, and Tatiana Suarez, the UFC isn’t doing Grasso any favors by booking her against Barber. Once this fight concludes, Grasso will have taken on arguably the Top 3 wrestlers in her division. Their height and reach is virtually identical.
Prediction: Barber via Decision
Kamaru Usman (17-1 MMA, 12-0 UFC) vs. Gilbert Burns (19-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC)
Usman vs. Burns is a bout for the UFC’s middleweight world title. Both Usman and Burns are former teammates who trained in South Florida under head coach Henry Hooft for the majority of their careers. Burns now trains with Trevor Wittman in Colorado while Burns remains with his original team and training partners in Florida. Usman will hold a two-inch height advantage as well as a six and a half inch reach advantage over Burns. Both Burns and Usman are undefeated at welterweight in the UFC. With Usman being a master of wrestling, and Burns being a master of jiu jitsu, this should create a very interesting matchup on the feet.
Prediction: Burns via Submission