What does Gilbert Burns need to do to defeat Kamaru Usman at UFC 258?
On Feb. 13, at UFC 258, UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman (17-1) will defend his title against the No. 1 ranked fighter in the UFC’s welterweight division, Gilbert Burns. (19-3)
Burns is currently riding a six-fight win streak with his last four fights occurring in the welterweight division. His most notable victories include a first-round knockout of former UFC title challenger Demian Maia and a dominant five-round unanimous decision win against former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.
Since losing in his second career fight, Usman has won 15 straight fights and is currently seeking to defend his welterweight championship for the third time. Usman holds notable wins over Colby Covington, Rafael Dos Anjos, Woodley, and Maia. His most recent victory in the Octagon came via unanimous decision over Jorge Masvidal in July 2020.
Usman and Burns are friends and former teammates, they have trained together and probably know things about each other that no other fighter would. Burns skillset poses a unique risk to Usman, here are his three keys to victory.
Stay off the cage
In his last victory over Masvidal, Usman did a fantastic job of neutralizing Masvidal’s power and striking ability by moving forward and controlling him against the cage. During his fight with Woodley, Burns did a good job of switching positions on the fence despite the strength of Woodley. However, clinch work against the fence is Usman’s world and Burns should look to avoid being pressed against the fence at all times.
Secure a takedown
Despite Usman’s insane wrestling ability, wrestlers typically do not like fighting from their back so Burns should look to take Usman to the ground. Burns has an excellent feel for grappling inside the Octagon and looking to use his jiu-jitsu should be a key to victory in this fight. With eight of his wins coming via submission Burns certainly has the ability to finish this fight on the ground and it will be interesting to see if he feels like that is his path to victory.
Finish the Fight
Burns has had one five-round fight inside of the Octagon and although he did seem fresh in the 5th round of his fight with Woodley, the edge in championship round experience has to go to Usman. Usman has reached the 5th round in each of his last five fights with four of those fights going the distance. Usman’s gas tank seems to be never-ending and Burns shouldn’t count on Usman tiring out during the fight. Something else to consider is how Usman’s pace sways the judges’ scorecards in his favor. In this fight, Burns’ most likely path to victory lies inside of the five rounds.
UFC 258 takes place on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, live from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV. Follow along with FanSided for all your live news and highlights.