Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman looks as if he is well on his way to being the next longtime, dominant UFC titleholder.
The Nigerian who fights out of Colorado shook off an early flash knockdown by Brazilian challenger Gilbert Burns on Saturday night in the main event of UFC 258 in Las Vegas before roaring back and dominating the rest of the way.
Usman's striking was both pinpoint and powerful as he slowly picked apart his foe, nearly finishing him in the second round before getting the job done early in the third. The fight was waved off at the 34-second mark of the third round as Usman defeated his former training partner.
"Respect to Gilbert, he's done a great job in this sport," Usman said. "But this is the varsity. My fight IQ is on another level.” With the victory, Usman (18-1) has now won 17 consecutive fights, including all 13 of his UFC bouts. That tops former longtime champion Georges St-Pierre's record win streak in the welterweight division.
It was Usman's third successful defense of the belt. Burns (19-4) had won each of his past six bouts.
The evening's co-feature bout on a fight card that was far from the deepest the UFC has ever offered was a women's flyweight bout between a rising contender and a hyped youngster.
Guadalajara, Mexico's Alexa Grasso (13-3) made the best of her biggest spotlight with a unanimous decision victory over 22-year old Coloradan Maycee Barber (8-2). Grasso mixed solid standup with an improving ground game to take the first two rounds. Then Barber, fighting for the first time after a year out due to a knee injury, came on strong in the third.
However, it wasn't enough as Grasso earned a unanimous decision on scores of 29-28 across the board for her second straight win. "Every fight I show that I'm better and better, I'm working very hard on my jiu-jitsu and wrestling and I'm gaining in the rankings," Grasso said.