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5 most explosive moments from UFC 258: Usman vs. Burns

Kamaru Usman proved his greatness again at UFC 258 by stopping Gilbert Burns.
Kamaru Usman proved his greatness again at UFC 258 by stopping Gilbert Burns.
Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 14 Feb 2021
Top 5 / Top 10
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While UFC 258 didn’t have the same levels of hype going in as UFC 257 did, it was still an excellent show in execution. UFC Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman defeated Gilbert Burns in the main event, stopping him in the third round.

And while a run of decisions slowed the main card down slightly, there were still plenty of highlight-reel moments for UFC fans to enjoy.

With that in mind, here are the five most explosive moments from UFC 258.


#1 Burns drops Usman with his first big punch

Gilbert Burns had Kamaru Usman in trouble in the early going of their UFC title fight.
Gilbert Burns had Kamaru Usman in trouble in the early going of their UFC title fight.

Gilbert Burns came into his UFC Welterweight title fight with Kamaru Usman last night as a big underdog.

Durinho had been impressive in 2020, beating Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley. But most observers figured the Brazilian’s improvements in striking probably wouldn’t be enough to get him past the champion.

Those observers were left stunned in the opening moments of UFC 258’s main event, though, as Burns came out aggressively and took the fight to Usman.

With pretty much his first big punch, the challenger dropped Usman to a knee – becoming the first fighter to knock The Nigerian Nightmare down during his UFC career. And when a wobbly Usman got up and ate some more big shots, it looked like the upset could well be on.

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Of course, Usman recovered and showed his class to come back and win. But for a fleeting moment, it looked like the UFC’s most dominant champion had been dethroned.


#2 Usman shows why he’s the most dominant champion in the UFC right now

Kamaru Usman is clearly the UFC
Kamaru Usman is clearly the UFC's most dominant fighter right now.

Gilbert Burns might’ve gotten off to a flying start in his UFC Welterweight challenge last night, but in the end, it was Kamaru Usman who had his hand raised. The Nigerian Nightmare once again proved why he’s the best Welterweight – and the most dominant fighter – on the planet.

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Quite how he recovered from that first big shot is a mystery. Evidently, Usman has an absolutely tremendous chin. But by the end of the first round, it was clear that he was beginning to take over.

The second round saw Usman impose himself on the challenger with a ramrod jab. And when he stumbled Burns badly with a hard right hand, it was clear that the fight was only going in one direction.

Burns survived until the third round began, but he didn’t last much longer. Usman opened that round with a brutal right hand that dropped the challenger, and then finished him off with some savage shots from the top.

This was perhaps Usman’s most impressive performance to date. He’s now 13-0 in the UFC, has three successful UFC Welterweight title defenses under his belt, and he’s well on his way to challenging Georges St. Pierre’s status as the greatest 170lbs fighter of all time.

Can anyone stop him right now? Based on this evidence, it doesn’t seem likely.


#3 Marquez returns with a wonderful comeback

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Julian Marquez pulled off an awesome comeback against Maki Pitolo.
Julian Marquez pulled off an awesome comeback against Maki Pitolo.

The opening fight of the main card saw Julian Marquez return to the UFC for the first time since June 2018. And while The Cuban Missile Crisis was favored to beat Maki Pitolo, it looked bad for him in the early going.

Pitolo’s grappling, power and pressure had Marquez on the back foot from the opening seconds of the fight. And despite his best efforts, it didn’t look like the product of Dana White’s Contender Series had much of an answer.

But by the third round, Pitolo – who was still winning – began to slow down somewhat. And apparently, that was all the encouragement that Marquez needed.

After escaping from a dangerous position on the ground, The Cuban Missile Crisis began to land heavy shots on his Hawaiian foe. And when Pitolo dived for a desperate takedown, Marquez locked up a guillotine – and then transitioned into a beautiful anaconda choke to force him to submit.

This was a phenomenal comeback from Marquez, both in terms of the fight and his UFC career overall. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait long to see him fight again this time.

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#4 Hernandez pulls off a miracle and submits Vieira

Anthony Hernandez shocked the world by submitting Rodolfo Vieira.
Anthony Hernandez shocked the world by submitting Rodolfo Vieira.

Coming into UFC 258, Anthony Hernandez was arguably the biggest underdog on the card. Fluffy had gone 1-2 in the UFC and was faced with Rodolfo Vieira – a man known as The Black Belt Hunter and who’d only lost nine times in a 110-match grappling career.

Somehow though, Hernandez flipped the script – and managed to force Vieira to tap out in the second round to an arm-in guillotine choke.

To say this was unexpected would be an understatement. Only one man – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion Bernardo Faria – had ever submitted Vieira in competition.

But The Black Belt Hunter learned one thing last night. In the world of the UFC, you simply can’t afford to exhaust yourself.

Vieira dominated the early going against Hernandez, throwing Fluffy around and coming close to an early submission. But when it didn’t happen, the Brazilian grappler simply ran out of gas.

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By the second round, he was a walking target, eating tons of heavy shots. And when he sloppily lunged for a takedown, Hernandez saw his opportunity and took it.

How far Fluffy can now climb in the UFC rankings is anyone’s guess, but this win will remain unforgettable for years.


#5 Viana shows that pure BJJ can still work in the UFC

Polyana Viana impressed in her win over Mallory Martin.
Polyana Viana impressed in her win over Mallory Martin.

UFC 258’s first finish came on the preliminary card courtesy of Strawweight Polyana Viana. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was a clear reminder that old-school Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can still work at the highest level.

Viana’s opponent Mallory Martin landed a couple of punches early on but quickly found herself dragged to the ground in the Brazilian’s guard.

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From there, Viana quickly threw her legs up and locked in a triangle choke. And although Martin attempted to fight off the hold, Viana used some slashing elbows to keep the position viable.

From there, she transitioned into an Americana, and then eventually, a brutal straight armbar. Martin attempted to defend but simply couldn’t escape – tapping out before her arm was snapped.

Viana’s earlier UFC losses would suggest that her BJJ-first approach wouldn’t necessarily be effective against stronger opponents. But against lower-level ones? It’s just as effective as Royce Gracie proved it was in 1993.

Published 14 Feb 2021, 15:59 IST
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