UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman fended off the biggest threat to his title reign by far in the UFC 258 PPV main event. The Nigerian nightmare defended all three of Gilbert Burns' takedown attempts in the third successful defense of his title against his former teammate to officially become the fighter with the stingiest takedown defense in the promotion's history. As revealed by Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie, Kamaru Usman has defended all 20 of his opponents' takedown attempts in his UFC career to earn the top spot.
Kamaru Usman (18-1 MMA, 13-0 UFC) fought No. 1 ranked contender Gilbert Burns (19-4 MMA, 12-4 UFC) in the UFC 258 main event. Gilbert Burns is considered Usman's toughest test in the UFC due to his ability to win fights standing up and on the ground. The vast majority of experts believed that Burns had an edge in striking and posed a severe threat to Usman on the ground, leaving clinch fighting the only way for the champ to attempt anything significant.
Gilbert Burns started strong and had Kamaru Usman hurt within the first minute of the fight. Even after getting rocked, Usman refused to go to the ground with the former BJJ world champion and defended each one of his takedown attempts. The champ slowly picked Burns apart with a strong jab from the orthodox and southpaw stance to finish him early in the third round.
With the win over Burns, Kamaru Usman extended his winning streak to 13, the longest active win streak in the UFC and longest win streak in the history of the welterweight division.
Kamaru Usman's cent percent takedown defense is not a deceiving number
Out of a total of 218:51 minutes spent in the UFC octagon over the course of 13 fights, Kamaru Usman has been in the top or clinch control position for 115:14 minutes. With Usman's NCAA Division 2 background and a wrestling-heavy fighting style, it is easy to discard his defensive ability as a deceptive number because it is usually Usman who initiates takedowns and grappling exchanges in the fights.
The major difference between striking and grappling exchanges in MMA is that it only takes a fraction of a second for a fighter to capitalize on his opponent's mistake in striking. But grappling exchanges require a series of maneuvers for fighters to capitalize on openings provided by their opponents. It is due to this difference that instances of lesser strikers knocking out better strikers are common in MMA but a lesser grappler rarely outsmarts a better grappler.
During his unbeaten run in the UFC, Kamaru Usman has fought some of the greatest defensive as well as offensive MMA grapplers like Demian Maia, Rafael Dos Anjos, Tyron Woodley and Jorge Masvidal. Given that the Nigerian nightmare has defended every takedown and controlled each one of those opponents for the most part, there is enough evidence to conclude that Kamaru Usman is the better grappler than every fighter he has fought in the UFC so far.
Kamaru Usman's progression in striking and ever-dominant ground game has prompted UFC president Dana White to believe that the Nigerian-American could rise to GOAT status in the welterweight division if he continues with the winning ways.