Last night (Sat., Feb. 13, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) remained in UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC 258. Last night’s event was not one of the most compelling pay-per-views (PPVs), held up almost entirely by a genuinely great title fight ... that not a whole lot of people cared enough to pay for. Plus, two fights were canned in the final 24 hours, which certainly didn’t help the situation.
Let’s take a closer look at the best performances and techniques:
The Jab Wins The Night
Gilbert Burns throws everything with tremendous power. Kicks, knees, uppercuts, overhands — “Durinho” SWINGS. His confidence is scary, as Burns doesn’t take long to start fully committing to his power shots, any of which can end the fight. That’s how he was able to hurt Usman early on; the Brazilian simply starting swinging full power immediately, before either man really had his timing.
Of course, throwing with full power at all times comes at a cost. By the middle of the second, Burns was noticeably slower and breathing through his mouth. He wasn’t gassed, but he was slower, which meant he was easier to time. As a result, Kamaru Usman’s 76 inch reach and stiff power added up to a series of tremendous jabs straight to the chin, often as Burns moved directly into them.
The jabs were already powerful, but Burns pushing into them only made them more deadly.
Kelvin The Veteran
When Kelvin Gastelum joined the roster, he was a fresh-faced prospect, the Ultimate Fighter (TUF) contestant who won largely via athleticism and hustle. He’s seen his ups-and-downs over the years, but Gastelum has continually improved, and his lightning quick left hand has always made him a threat to all opponents.
On the heels of a difficult losing streak, Gastelum was finally forced to show off all he had learned. Could Gastelum have danced around and won opposite Ian Heinisch with his 1-2 and little? Maybe. But, that approach failed him recently, so Gastelum used all his skills.
It began with the kicks. Gastelum learned something from the Darren Till loss — he can’t count on the knock downs to keep him ahead. Instead, Gastelum smartly set up low kicks, and he dug to the mid-section too.
The more dramatic shift came as Gastelum returned to his wrestling. Heinisch was throwing with a ton of aggression, the type reserved for athletes unafraid of the takedown. Well, Gastelum flipped that script, taking down his far larger foe a half-dozen times.
It wasn’t a beautiful win, but it was a smart one.
MMA Ain’t Jiu-Jitsu
Look, I love Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It’s my first martial art, and I also wish the best for grappling aces who transition into the cage. But, anyone who thinks that jiu-jitsu skill will translate directly into success in the Octagon is in for a rough awakening.
Rodolfo Vieira found out the hard way last night. He’s absurdly credentialed a black belt in grappling competitions, and his first two UFC fights played out as one would expect: Vieira tackled his opponent, advanced into mount, and scored the strangle.
His bout with Anthony Hernandez began in similar fashion. Vieira powered through his foe for an easy double leg, took mount, and showed off his relentless arm triangle setup. Hernandez, however, was not going to go down easily, bucking and kicking off the fence at every opportunity. It took some scares, but “Fluffy” did escape.
Once back on the feet, Vieira looked very human. More specifically, Vieira looked like a very tired human. Hernandez immediately went on the offensive, and he landed hard shots. It almost didn’t last to the second frame, but when it did, Hernandez kept momentum in his corner, landing hard elbows and a clean high kick.
Barely alive, Vieira dove into another failed takedown. Hernandez took his time to set up a seated arm triangle/arm-across guillotine choke, and the legendary grappler tapped out. How much of the submission was fatigue vs. dizziness vs. the actual choke? Who knows, but the end result remains the same: Anthony Hernandez submits someone way, way better at jiu-jitsu than himself.
That’s the beauty of MMA. Hernandez fought hard and broke his foe down — that’s the real story of the fight.
- Julian Marquez defeats Maki Pitolo via third-round anaconda choke: Pitolo did so much well. Against a foe coming off a long layoff, Pitolo stormed forward, landed big shots, and gained top position. Once in control, he really kept in control, timing clean counters and smart takedowns against his foe’s raw aggression. Unfortunately for the Hawaiian, it’s tiring to wrestle so much, and sometimes, it’s easier to be reckless and offensive when both men are breathing hard. Marquez staged one hell of a late rally, landing big shots from close distance. All night long, Marquez had been hunting the guillotine choke, but when he finally transitioned into an anaconda choke instead, he scored the finish.
- Polyiana Vianna defeats Mallory Martin via first-round armbar: This had to be a brutally un-fun fight for Martin. After a solid start with some strikes and a takedown, Martin found herself in a tight triangle. Martin was too tough to tap quickly, which ultimately only served to make her night worse. Vianna smashed her opponent with elbows from within the triangle, hammering Martin repeatedly as she tried to scramble out. After attack both the choke and a shoulder lock, Vianna fully switched to the armbar, which finally forced the tap following a painful and extended struggle.
For complete UFC 258: “Usman vs. Burns” results and play-by-play, click HERE!