UFC 258: Usman vs Burns Main Card Matchmaking

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Kamaru Usman def. Gilbert Burns via TKO (Punches)

Kamaru Usman – Leon Edwards/Colby Covington Winner

Kamaru Usman once again showed why he is the best 170lb fighter in the world. Despite his sheer dominance over every opponent he has ever faced, he was once again counted out by many fans and media members. Usman has now broke Georges St. Pierre’s record for most consecutive welterweight wins at 13. With three title defenses already under his belt, it will be interesting which approach the UFC takes with the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’. A rematch with Covington would obviously be a huge draw, however it looks like Covington vs Edwards may be next. If the winner of this fight comes out without much damage, I’d like to see Usman versus the winner before the end of the summer. If not, another option is Stephen Thompson who is the only guy in the Top 5 the Champion hasn’t defeated.

Gilbert Burns – Michael Chiesa

Gilbert Burns looked unbelievable in the opening stanza, even dropping his former teammate. For the first time in his championship reign, Usman was hesitant due engage in the grappling exchanges. We may never know what those training sessions were like, but the Champion displayed tremendous respect to the challenger. Burns may drop a spot or two but will likely remain within the Top 3 when the updated rankings are announced. Knowing Burns he will likely want to return to the cage as soon as he gets the okay from the doctors. The rest of the Top 5 seems to be booked, but a matchup with another former lightweight Michael Chiesa would appeal to fans of high level grappling.

Alexa Grasso def. Maycee Barber via Unanimous Decision

Alexa Grasso – Jessica Eye

Alexa Grasso has shown so many improvements in her game in recent fights, and this may have been her most fluid. Known for her great striking, her grappling has always been her weak point. Last night, she was able to hold her own despite the size disadvantage and almost secured a submission. Grasso’s move to flyweight proved to be a wise choice, and she can now begin her rise through the rankings. She will likely be ranked #12-13 when the rankings are released, so a fight with #8 Jessica Eye who has lost two straight could be next. For both women it will determine which belongs in the Top 10 of the flyweight rankings.

Maycee Barber – Maryna Moroz

Maycee Barber entered this fight after a long layoff and was thrown to a very hungry Alexa Grasso. She turned it on late, but ultimately fell short to the former strawweight. Barber has now lost consecutive fights and will be looking outside of the rankings for her next opponent. Maryna Moroz has is on the doorstep of the rankings and could be one big win away. She has only fought twice since 2018, but has earned two straight victories. For Barber, Moroz is another stiff challenger to her ranking and she will need to fight tooth and nail to emerge victorious.

Kelvin Gastelum def. Ian Heinisch via Unanimous Decision

Kelvin Gastelum – Jared Cannonier

Kelvin Gastelum once again showed why you should never count him out of a fight. He has been counted out time and time again and continues to get the job done. Gastelum called out the giants of the 185lb division in Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa. Although I like both of those fights, he just snapped a three fight losing streak and should look to build open that. The majority of the division already has matchups so there aren’t many options available to him. One of those names is Jared Cannonier who recently lost to Whittaker. The two are big enough draws to co-headline a card in Las Vegas.

Ian Heinisch – Karl Roberson

Ian Heinisch entered this fight the underdog, and given Gastelum’s credentials it is understandable. That being said, Heinisch showed that he deserves his spot in the Top 15 hanging in there with Gastelum. He couldn’t manage to get the former TUF winner off of him long enough to engage in striking exchanges. Despite the performance, Heinisch will likely drop out of the rankings and will have to earn a win or two to return. He has dropped three of his last four and is in need of a victory. Karl Roberson is in a similar position and could use a victory to enter into the rankings as well. If their timelines match up, a bout between the two would be exciting.

Ricky Simon def. Brian Kelleher via Unanimous Decision

Ricky Simon – Marlon Moraes

Ricky Simon may have put on one of the most impressive performances of his UFC career. After the fight falling through, Simon agreed to the fight despite having competed less than a month ago. That being said, he was able to continuously take down Kelleher at will across the 15 minutes. Simon has been sitting just outside the Top 15 for a little while now and deserves a spot in the rankings. As much as I like the Cody Stamann fight, I don’t believe their timelines will match up. I think Marlon Moraes will be looking toward the bottom 5 of the rankings for his next fight, and Simon may be the fight. Moraes has lost three of his last four against elite competition, and Simon is looking for that big name to elevate him to the next level.

Brian Kelleher – Benito Lopez

One of the most popular fighters in 2020 on social media, Kelleher once again showed he is as game as they come at 135lbs. Despite an elbow opening him up early, Kelleher fought his way to the scorecards. After a big year in 2020, it will be interesting to see how active he wants to be in 2020. I’d love to see Kelleher face another prospect as it seems to be when he best performs. It has been a little while since we have seen Benito Lopez, and he will surely be looking to build on his momentum after his win over Vince Morales. A victory over Kelleher would have him take a huge leap toward the Top 15. As for Kelleher, it presents an opportunity to get back to his winning ways.

Julian Marquez def. Maki Pitolo via Submission (Anaconda Choke)

Julian Marquez – Dalcha Lungambula

Julian Marquez is a barbarian in every sense of the word. After losing the opening two rounds, he needed a victory. Head coach James Krause used a tirade of F-bombs to motivate him before the third round. That was all the motivation Marquez needed as he proceeded to earn his first victory in over three years by securing an anaconda choke late in the third. After the fight, he asked Miley Cyrus to be his valentine. A request that was granted to him by the pop star, and he received a follow in the process. As for what is next, Congo’s Dalcha Lungiambula is in need of an opponent. Given he only competed less than a month ago, there is a good chance the two may have each other’s names on their next bout agreement.

Maki Pitolo – Jack Marshman

Maki Pitolo was well on his way to secure his second UFC victory and got caught in an anaconda choke. This sport is so unforgiving, and I can only imagine the frustration for him and coach Eric Nicksick. The Hawaiian has now lost three straight, and could be on the chopping block. I personally feel he deserves another shot before the UFC decides to cut him. Wales’ Jack Marshman is a fan-friendly striker that would bring the fight to Pitolo. Both would have their backs against the wall, with the loser likely to be released.

Sergio Pineiro

Sergio Pineiro is the Founder of FighterPath.com and host of the Quarantinecast podcast. Based in Canada he is both a sports journalist and MMA enthusiast. He practices the sport but has a passion for the individual stories of training, fighting and living the fighting lifestyle.

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