After a one month stay on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, the UFC is back in Las Vegas for the next several weeks, including UFC 258 on February 13. In the main event, welterweight champion Kamaru Usman makes his third defense of his title against his former teammate Gilbert Burns. The co-main is a women’s flyweight bout between prospects Maycee Barber and Alexa Grasso.
To put it nicely, this is not one of the deepest pay-per-view offerings you’ll see from the UFC, but keep in mind that there are five title fights combined on their next two PPVs in March. However, there are still some interesting matchups to look forward to on Saturday and there’s money to be won on DraftKings. Before fight night arrives, let’s look at some of the fighters on UFC 258 who are poised to deliver high scores for your DraftKings fantasy MMA lineups.
Kamaru Usman ($9,000) vs. Gilbert Burns ($7,200) - Welterweights
Usman is known for his dominant wrestling and remarkable strength, and he’s also developed more than formidable striking. After taking the title away from Tyron Woodley, “The Nigerian Nightmare” used his striking to TKO Colby Covington in their thrilling UFC 245 encounter. Kamaru’s lone title defense of 2020 saw him defeat Jorge Masvidal (who replaced Burns on short notice) by unanimous decision. “Durinho” is quite familiar with Usman, having trained with him at Sanford MMA up until Usman departed the camp last year. Known for his outstanding submission grappling, Burns has developed heavy hands and a well-rounded offensive skill set. He’s 4-0 in the UFC’s welterweight division, including a first-round TKO of Demian Maia, and like Usman, had his own shutout unanimous decision over Woodley.
Burns should have great insight into Usman’s tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses, but the same applies the other way around. Usman is a physical freak who’s seldom looked vulnerable at any point in his UFC career. Burns’ takedown defense is not ironclad, and while he may accept a ground battle with Usman, Kamaru’s top pressure seems nearly impossible to consistently fend off. Gilbert may have slightly more powerful kickboxing but Usman has the better chin. It should be compelling and competitive in stretches, but I see Usman ending the night with the belt still wrapped around his waist.
Number of Note: 2. Usman has spent a grand total of two seconds of his 12-fight UFC career in a bottom position. Oh yeah, and he’s never been taken down either.
Alexa Grasso ($8,300) vs. Maycee Barber ($7,900) - Women’s Flyweights
Grasso came into the UFC from Invicta FC as an intriguing strawweight prospect, but she never really gained a foothold and had inconsistent results. After a 2-3 start to her UFC tenure, the Mexican moved up to flyweight and impressed in her clear-cut decision over Ji Yeon Kim. The much more hyped prospect is definitely Maycee Barber, the 22-year-old who’s proclaimed herself as “The Future.” Well, in the present, she’s coming off a big upset loss to Roxanne Modafferi, suffering a knee injury in the process that shelved for almost all of 2020. Her three UFC wins all came by TKO against Gillian Robertson, JJ Aldrich, and Hannah Cifers.
This fight comes down to what Barber has learned from that Modafferi loss and also how well Grasso can defend takedowns. Barber is powerful and as a result she has vicious ground-and-pound when on top. Grasso is lighter on her feet and a superior boxer, so if she can hold up against Barber’s physical strength, her overall skills are more developed at this point and I believe she’ll pick up the victory.
Number of Note: 49. Including her appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series, Barber’s striking defense (percentage of significant strikes that did not land) is just 49%, so if Grasso’s weakness is her defensive wrestling, then Maycee’s biggest problem can also be exploited by her foe.
Bobby Green ($8,900) vs. Jim Miller ($7,300) - Lightweights
Editor’s note: Bobby Green vs. Jim Miller has been pulled from UFC 258.
After a very brief “retirement” in late 2018, Green has arguably looked better than ever since returning to the cage in 2019. A close, competitive loss to Francisco Trinaldo gave way to a three-fight winning streak that included decisions over Alan Patrick, Clay Guida, and a successful rematch vs. Lando Vannata. His victorious ways came to a surprising and controversial end when Thiago Moises edged out a close decision last October. Green is no stranger to those. Miller is set to make history this weekend by surpassing (if only for a few months) Donald Cerrone for the most all-time UFC fights at a whopping 37. The New Jersey native is coming off a decision loss to Vinc Pichel, but he showed he can still play spoiler when he upset Roosevelt Roberts by armbar last June.
You hate to see either of these men lose. It’s a great matchup between two MMA veterans and one that I believe now tilts towards Green compared to several years ago. Green has amazing takedown defense and has the wrestling chops to put Miller on his back. His striking may lack power but he’s a sharp boxer and the faster paced this fight is, the more likely that Miller will fade. Miller is a threat with his slick submissions and his clinchwork but I believe Green will pull away late and get an entertaining decision.
Number of Note: 208. Over his last four fights, Bobby Green has outlanded his opponents by 208 significant strikes (346 to 138). A great differential in addition to the fact that he’s scored 11 takedowns during that span.
Rodolfo Vieira ($9,300) vs. Anthony Hernandez ($6,900) - Middleweights
Vieira is a decorated jiu-jitsu phenom with multiple world championship gold medals to his name, not to mention the prestigious ADCC gold in 2015. In MMA he’s a perfect 7-0, including a pair of wins in the UFC. He had a scare against Saparbek Safarov when he was hurt and had a swollen left eye but was still able to get the arm-triangle win. Hernandez is a former LFA champion whose roster spot may be on the line. He’s coming off a quick TKO loss to contender Kevin Holland, while his lone win in three UFC appearances is an anaconda choke submission vs. Jun Yong Park.
This is a fight where Hernandez’s power as a striker may spring a surprise against the Brazilian if he isn’t careful. What’s concerning for Hernandez is that he seems to be unable to cope with more physical fighters, including the recently released Markus Perez. Add in that he’s a willing grappler and the conclusion to make is that Vieira will get him to the mat at some point and it’ll not be much of a contest from there. Vieira by submission is the pick.
Number of Note: 6. As you might expect, six of Vieira’s seven professional wins have come via submission. Two of Hernandez’s three losses (amateurs and pros combined) have been via tapout.
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