The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas for a massive card, headlined by a UFC Welterweight Championship fight between two very similar fighters. Here are The Wolf’s picks for UFC 258.
Maycee Barber makes her return to the Octagon after an 18 month ACL injury enforced lay off, however she will have to do it the hard way against the ultra tough Alexa Grasso.
Barber was a perfect 8-0 before taking on Roxanne Modafferi at UFC 246. Unfortunately, her knee gave way during the fight and she was essentially forced to fight on one leg but still managed to survive until the final bell, winning by unanimous decision.
Grasso moved up to Flyweight in her last bout against Ji Yeon Kim and it paid off, taking a unanimous decision victory as well. Previous to that, she had been very competitive in the strawweight division, only dropping fights to top contenders like Carla Esparza and Tatiana Suarez.
This is a very tough fight for Barber, coming in fresh off a knee injury. Grasso has crisp boxing and footwork and should be able to exploit any chinks in Barber’s armour, picking her apart with shots from distance. It won’t be pretty but Grasso should be taking this out comfortably.
A UFC Welterweight Championship bout between ex-teammates headlines this card and despite what most people think, The Wolf thinks this could be quite an entertaining fight.
Since dethroning Tyron Woodley as the 170lb champion, Kamaru Usman has showed a smothering top game in his title defences against Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal. Not only does he average 3.44 takedowns every 15 minutes but he also boasts an unheard of 100% takedown defence rate. Combining this with his always improving striking arsenal, he has shown it will take a very special fighter to take his championship away from him.
Burns has only dropped three fights in his 15 fight stint under the UFC banner and is currently riding a six fight win streak, most recently taking out Demian Maia and ex-champ Tyron Woodley. He is a very accomplished grappler and has shown in recent fights that he is developing his hands as well (as seen when knocking out Maia in the first round).
Both fighters possess a very similar style but The Wolf is giving the edge to the champ, based on his wrestling pedigree. He is a NCAA D2 National Champion and has shown he can basically take the fight to the ground whenever he wants. His constant pressure and high work rate should nullify most of Burns offence and as such, The Wolf is tipping a ground and pound stoppage late in the fight.
Kelvin Gastelum is currently on a three fight losing streak, coming against tough opposition like current champ Israel Adesanya and Darren Till and desperately needs a win here to remain relevant in the 185lb title picture. He was recently submitted by Jack Hermansson in less than 90 seconds but this looks to be his most winnable fight in a long time. His achievements shouldn’t be downplayed however; he took Till to a split decision and gave Adesanya arguably his toughest fight in his career.
Ian Heinisch stopped a two fight losing streak by knocking out Gerald Meerschaert at UFC 250 in 74 seconds. This came as a surprise to some as Heinisch is better known as a grappler, having been an All-American wrestler on two occasions. He possesses a fairly high work rate and this could be the key to victory against a tough opponent like Gastelum.
This fight comes down to whether Gastelum can stop the takedown or not. The Wolf thinks he can; as seen in his split decision victory over grappling wizard Jacare Souza at UFC 224. Heinisch should look to press the action and look for the takedown but as he keeps getting denied, he could become more desperate in his attempts. This will play into Gastelum’s hands perfectly and he can use his crisp boxing combinations to pick Heinisch apart before landing his big left hand, en route to a KO victory.
Gastelum to win, Grasso to win and Usman by KO/TKO ($7.35)
MORE UFC TIPS
|Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns||Usman by KO ($3.10)|
|Maycee Barber vs Alexa Grasso||Grasso to win ($1.72)|
|Kelvin Gastelum vs Ian Heinisch||Gastelum by KO ($6.00)|
|Jim Miller vs Bobby Green||Green by Points ($1.80)|
|Julian Marquez vs Maki Pitolo||Marquez by Points ($3.75)|
|Anthony Hernandez vs Rodolfo Vieira||Vieria by Round 1 Submission ($2.20)|
|Belal Muhammed vs Dhiego Lima||Muhammed by Points ($1.72)|
|Polyana Viana vs Mallory Martin||Viana to win ($2.25)|
|Andre Ewell vs Chris Gutierrez||Gutierrez to win ($1.64)|
|Ricky Simon vs Brian Kelleher||Simon by Points ($1.80)|
|Gabriel Green vs Philip Rowe||Rowe by KO ($4.00)|
|Miranda Maverick vs Gillian Robertson||Maverick by Points ($2.50)|