Key takeaways from UFC 258: It's time for Usman to change divisions
The MMA landscape looks a little different following Kamaru Usman's thrilling third-round KO of Gilbert Burns at UFC 258. Let’s take a look at what we learned from this weekend's festivities.
Usman cleans out Welterweight
After a stunning third-round KO of Gilbert Burns, Kamaru Usman is left virtually unopposed at welterweight. The champ has now beaten the division’s top five fighters in conclusive fashion, and really has no roads left to conquer. Though he called out Jorge Masvidal in the aftermath, he’d be rematching an opponent he previously dominated in a fight that nobody really wants to see.
So what’s next for Usman? He’s made it clear that he would love a chance to fight Georges St. Pierre if offered the chance, but he should follow the game plan of fellow dominant Israel Adesanya and take his talents to middleweight.
Usman vs. Robert Whittaker for the vacant middleweight title would be a sensational contest, one far better than the fights in Usman’s future should he remain at welterweight.
Alexa Grasso stuns Maycee Barber
Though Grasso was a slight favorite going into her bout with Barber, nobody expected her to turn in the performance of her career. Grasso stood her ground against the supposedly superior striker, shutting Barber down and battling through some chippy spots in the final rounds when Barber let it all go.
This was the kind of performance that will put her on the path for a potential title shot. The women’s flyweight division is a bit of a wasteland at the moment. Valentina Shevchenko reigns unopposed and is sure to need some new blood as she continues her legendary run, and Grasso’s pursuit to become the first fighter of Mexican descent to win a UFC title is an easy selling point. She’s not ready for Shevchenko yet, but she’s making her case.
Gastelum doesn't have many winnable fights left
Though Gastelum won his crossroads bout against fellow skidding middleweight Ian Heinisch, it was a chore to watch. There wasn’t too much to like, but Gastelum’s ground control easily secured him the victory, effectively snapping an almost three-year losing streak as a result.
Gastelum is a recognizable fighter and a sentimental favorite, so he’s sure to get another shot as he works his way up the rankings, but he’s not going far. At the risk of sounding pedantic, Gastelum beating Heinisch doesn’t do much aside from proving he still has something left in the tank.
Gastelum’s history with Uriah Hall and Chris Weidman should lead to another fight, especially as both Hall and Weidman are fighting to remain relevant. Otherwise, there’s a chance we’ll see Gastelum matched up against the surging Kevin Holland as a gauge of how Holland is developing. Beyond that, there are not many winnable fights for Gastelum.