UFC 258 predictions — Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns: Fight card, odds, prelims, expert picks

Kamaru Usman will look to further cement his place as the best welterweight fighter in the world on Saturday when he defends his 170-pound UFC championship against former teammate Gilbert Burns in the main event of UFC 258. The fight headlines a five-fight pay-per-view main card from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas.

Usman brings a 16-fight winning streak to the Octagon with 12 of those wins coming in the UFC. Burns is on his own impressive winning streak, picking up six straight victories to earn this shot at Usman and the championship. The two men formerly trained together at Sanford MMA, but Usman recently left to train with Trevor Wittman once the fight was scheduled between the two.

Burns and Usman were originally scheduled to meet in the main event of UFC 251 last June, but Burns was forced out of the fight after testing positive for COVID-19. The fight was then planned for December’s UFC 256 event, but Usman withdrew while citing a need to recover from injuries. Now, the fight is finally set to happen with both men officially making weight on Friday.

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Let’s take a closer look at the complete fight card with the latest odds from William Hill Sportsbook before getting to our expert picks and predictions below.

UFC 258 fight card, odds

  • Kamaru Usman (c) -270 vs. Gilbert Burns +220, welterweight championship
  • Alexa Grasso -125 vs. Maycee Barber +105, women’s flyweights
  • Kelvin Gastelum -220 vs. Ian Heinisch +180, middleweights
  • Julian Marquez -170 vs. Maki Pitolo +145, middleweights
  • Bobby Green -270 vs. Jim Miller +220, lightweights
  • Rodolfo Vieira -400 vs. Anthony Hernandez +310, middleweights
  • Chris Gutierrez -150 vs. Andre Ewell +125, featherweights
  • Belal Muhammad -410 vs. Dhiego Lima +320, welterweights
  • Ricky Simon -260 vs. Brian Kelleher +210, featherweights
  • Miranda Maverick -150 vs. Gillian Robertson +125, women’s flyweights
  • Gabriel Green -135 vs. Phillip Rowe +115, welterweights
  • Mallory Martin -155 vs. Polyana Viana +130, women’s strawweights

With such a massive main event on tap, the crew at CBS Sports went ahead with predictions and picks for the main card. Here are your pick makers: Brent Brookhouse (Combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (Combat sports writer, co-host of “Morning Kombat”), Matthew Coca (producer), Jack Crosby (editor) and Michael Mormile (producer).

UFC 258 picks, predictions

Usman (c) vs. Burns Usman Usman Usman Usman Usman
Barber vs. Grasso Grasso Barber Barber Grasso Barber
Gastelum vs. Heinisch Gastelum Heinisch Gastelum Heinisch Heinisch
Green vs. Miller Miller Green Green Green
Pitolo vs. Marquez Marquez Marquez Marquez Marquez Pitolo
Records to date (2021) 2-3 4-1 3-2 2-3 2-3

Campbell on why Usman will win: Considering the growth he showed in just a few months under the tutelage of coach Trevor Wittman in his 2020 title defense against Jorge Masvidal, the sky’s the limit for how much Usman’s striking game has evolved. He’ll need a well-rounded performance to defeat someone as versatile and dangerous as Burns, a former teammate at Sanford MMA. But until Usman gives his critics reason to believe another UFC welterweight can handle his pace and ability to control the fight on his terms, it remains difficult to pick against him. 

Brookhouse on why Usman will win: With an upgrade to his training camp and a combination of striking and wrestling that allows him to dictate where the fight takes place, it feels like Usman’s reign could last a very, very long time. Burns is a threat everywhere with power on the feet and genuine jiu jitsu bona fides on the ground, but he lacks the ability to control where and how the fight takes place, which is Usman’s strength. The early rounds may look like a grind with Usman neutralizing Burns before really going to work in the second half of the fight.

Campbell on why Grasso will win: Barber has talked a big game despite entering the toughest test of her career fresh off a 13-month layoff and ACL surgery following an upset loss to Roxanne Modaferri. It’s not that Barber’s confidence isn’t important to help turn the page so quickly from such a difficult mental setback, it’s that she has blamed the loss almost exclusively on injury. The reality is that Modaferri exposed some decent deficiencies to the 22-year-old’s game even before it took place. Grasso’s toughness and slick boxing skill make her a difficult matchup to rebound against, especially if the fight goes the distance.

Brookhouse on why Barber will win: Barber is entering the fight as an underdog largely as a product of a bad showing against Roxanne Modafferi. That fight had a lot go wrong for Barber between a cut, a knee injury and just an overall flat performance. Prior to that fight, Barber looked like a real force in the division. Grasso is tough and has solid skills on the feet, but she isn’t much of a finisher, which will allow Barber to be a bit reckless in her attack. That’s when she’s at her absolute best.

Campbell on why Gastelum will win: What’s more surprising: that Gastelum is still on the good side of 30 or that he’s entering Saturday’s test against Ian Heinisch riding a three-fight losing streak against elite competition? Gastelum has long been a bit of a mystery to try to handicap. His flashes of brilliance are typically offset by flat and inconsistent performances. Still, it’s hard not to remember the fight he put up against Israel Adesanya over five brutal rounds in 2019 when it appeared Gastelum finally figured out how to best channel his strengths into a championship-level performance. Given the desperation caused by his current skid, expect Gastelum to be on point once again in a matchup which favors him on the feet. 

Brookhouse on why Heinisch will win: Gastelum is looking pretty shopworn at just 29 years old. It’s easy to understand why, as he has fought at a high level for many years and put some serious mileage on his body. Both Gastelum and Heinisch are talented fighters who have a tendency to drop a bad performance or two in between their excellent showings. This fight largely feels like a coin flip, but this feels like the kind of fight where Heinisch shows off a still-developing stand-up game to scratch out a close win on the scorecards.

Who will win Usman vs. Burns and every fight at UFC 258? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight, all from the incomparable expert who’s up more than $22,000 on MMA picks in the past two years.

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