UFC 258: Usman vs. Burns Fight Picks

Photo: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

 

It was a fight that was twice booked and subsequently canceled , but the third time’s a charm. Now just days away from UFC 258, Kamaru Usman is set to defend the welterweight title against former training partner Gilbert Burns.

Kamaru Usman (-290) vs Gilbert Burns (+225)

It’s always interesting when former training partners are competing against each other. Over the years Burns has sparred with Usman in preparation for big fights, and vice versa.  A fight between former teammates is compelling because they both know how things went in sparring. They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, they also both know who got the best who in those sessions as well.

Usman’s unrelenting pace, coupled with the fact he is a big strong welterweight is the crux of his success. He has power in his hands, and has no qualms about engaging in a brawl. He is heavily reliant on his physical strength and grappling prowess that has him attain octagon control over most anyone. Burns isn’t necessarily the superior striker, but he most certainly can spark Usman early with his uber aggressive approach to going for the kill early. The aggression he has on the feet carries over to the ground where he is a threat from all positions, especially from his back where Usman will more than likely have him.

At the end of the day

How things went in the gym between these two is anyone’s guess, but judging by the most recent performances and their track records , Usman being the fanduel betting favorite is justified. Usman has the wrestling advantage, Burns has the BJJ advantage. Usman is more skillful with his hands, but Burn’s are possibly more powerful and certainly more aggressive. The aggressive approach of of Burn’s is risky, but pays off big if it works. But Usman isn’t a fighter to use risky tactics against.

Pick: Kamaru Usman 

Maycee Barber(+108) vs Alexa Grasso (-132)

Although it’s Maycee Barber that was all the craze, fanduel has Alexa Grasso as the betting favorite which makes perfect sense. Barber got high praise for her empathic entry into the UFC with 3 KO/TKO victories in a row giving her high praise for the bright future that lay ahead, and rightfully so. But after her last loss in against Roxanne Modafferi that she was the heavy favorite to win, the surgery that followed and her returning after a long lay off. The odd’s aren’t in her favor when facing a far more experienced fighter in Alexa Grasso.

At the end of the day

While Barber has shown lots of promise physically, mentally there is a lot of maturing needing to be done to catch up to her position. Alexa Grasso will be the most experienced fighter she has ever faced, and perhaps the most well rounded. Both girls have a lot of vigor and are all action entertaining fighters. It seems as though the UFC is trying to set Barber up for success to build her up, but that effort is likely to fall flat this time around. Barber is the type of fighter to have a good start, but to fall off when things don’t go her way.

Pick: Alexa Grasso

Kelvin Gastelum (-245) vs. Ian Heinsch (+194)

It’s been a tough stretch for Gastelum who comes into this fight riding a 3 fight losing streak. Not having won since 2018 when bested Jacare Souza in a fight of the night contest, the one-time middleweight title challenger needs a win in a big way. Ian Heinsch comes into this fight fresh off of a first-round TKO victory over Gerald Meerschaert in a fight that was a virtually flawless performance. While confidence is at an all-time high for Heinsch, he is unquestionably headed for his stiffest competition to date. 

At the end of the day

Gastelum is a fanduel favorite by a wide margin based on the fact that he is the higher-profile fighter, with far more experience against high profile competition than his counterpart. Meerschaert has fast hands and good power, but Gastelums ability to absorb an impossible amount of damage only to continue to move forward is going to be the key to him earning this victory. Gastelum doesn’t have the fastest hands in the world, but he has good accuracy. Mixing up the striking and the wrestling is going to win him this fight.

Pick: Kelvin Gastelum 

Jim Miller (+220) vs Bobby Green (-280)

Jim Miller is as active of a professional fighter as you’ll ever see, since debuting in the UFC back in 2008, he’s always been ol reliable. With 36 fights under the promotion, he has pretty much done and seen it all against the highest level of competition in the most talent-rich weight class in the sport. Even after all of these years, he hasn’t shown any signs of diminished durability or slowing down. While he is coming off of a loss to Vinc Pichel, the tough as nails grappler is a live dog at UFC 258 despite being the significant fanduel betting underdog

At the end of the day 

Bobby Green had some kind of 2020, rattling off 4 fights going 3-1 in the process. Green has had a penchant for going the distance these days, and should this fight decision end up in the judge’s hands, the chances of earning the win are high. Unless this one ends early with a quick TKO or submission finish, the win will be Greens. His physicality being the difference maker over the smaller, undersized Miller.

Pick: Bobby Green

Belal Muhammad (-450) vs. Dhiego Lima (+330)

The classic striker vs grappler matchup tends to favor the grappler in most cases, especially when the striker is known for having incredible Muay Thai/kickboxing skills, and not so much of a grappling artist . It’s not that Lima isn’t perfectly competent, the guy is a brown belt in Brazilian jujitsu and has as many submission wins on his record as Muhammad. But that record is a bit deceiving, as many of those submission victories came from hurting people on the feet just before locking up a fight-ending choke. Those submissions also came against lesser competition before his days in the UFC.

At the end of the day

The disparity in the fanduel odds booking Muhammad as a heavy favorite to win is based on styles. The takedowns and smothering wrestling style of Muhammad are what he has leaned on for the vast majority of his victories. He is great at stifling other wrestlers/BJJ practitioners with his heavy top game, and Lima is the much taller and more rangey fighter is going to make it easier for Muhammad to get under the punches, secure the takedown, hold him down and ride out a decision win.

Pick: Belal Muhammad 

The storyline of two teammates fighting makes for far more of an intriguing affair than your standard bad blood grudge match between heated rivals. UFC 258 is a thin card on paper, but it’ll pop come fight night. Usman vs Burns either ends early, or goes long. Either way, it has fight of the night written all over it.

Are you ready to make your fight picks? Head over to fanduel and enter the fight night contest for this weekend!

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