What are champions made of?
The UFC 258 pay-per-view (PPV) main event between Welterweight titleholder Kamaru Usman and top contender Gilbert Burns, which took place last night (Sat., Feb. 13, 2021) inside APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, did a pretty good job of providing the answer.
Usman was rocked by “Durinho” early in the fight and the pressure-heavy Brazilian seemed to have a clear advantage on the feet. But, as the bout dragged on, “The Nigerian Nightmare” made the necessary adjustments and roared back, using a surprisingly effective jab to complement his top-shelf wrestling.
The result was a third-round technical knockout victory.
After the fight, Usman demanded that we “put some respect” on his name. That means he’s been listening to the critics, despite his cucumber-cool demeanor, who were unimpressed with his foot-stomping affair against Jorge Masvidal.
Or, his close call against long-time rival Colby Covington, preceded by a title-winning performance against Tyron Woodley in a fight where Woodley was more frozen than chosen. Those critiques were not without merit, but they all went away at UFC 258.
Usman proved he was the real deal.
Not only did The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 21 champion retain his Welterweight title, he broke Georges St-Pierre’s consecutive win streak with 13 straight victories at 170 pounds. Usman, 33, is now tied with Lightweight kingpin Khabib Nurmagomedov with most wins to start a UFC career and remains three behind Anderson Silva (16) for the all-time record.
That’s some rare air.
After the fight, UFC President, Dana White, told the combat sports media that Usman (17-1) had multiple options for his next title fight, including a pre-approved Masvidal rematch, which may come to fruition following the champ’s post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
“The only reason he took that [first] fight is because it was on six days notice and he had a built-in excuse,” Usman said. “I’ll give you a whole training camp. I guarantee you won’t sign on that dotted line because this time I’ll finish your ass. Anyone of these fools can get it, any one of them. But he keeps running his mouth. If he’s gonna talk, step in there and see me.”
Masvidal stepped in on super-short notice to save the UFC 251 headliner when Usman was originally scheduled to face Burns in July 2020. Despite a valiant effort, Masvidal was unable to keep pace with the champion and lost a five-round decision.
I guess it’s time to see what “Gamebred” can do on a full camp.
For much more on UFC 258, including full results and live play-by-play, click here.