Fight of the Night: N/A
Performance of the Night: Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns | ($50K bonus to Usman)
Performance of the Night: Maki Pitolo vs Julian Marquez | ($50K bonus to Marquez)
Performance of the Night: Rodolfo Vieira vs Anthony Hernandez | ($50K bonus to Hernandez)
Performance of the Night: Polyana Viana vs Mallory Martin | ($50K bonus to Viana)
In the week leading to UFC 258 only a few matchups appeared to have divisional implications. Clearly the Usman vs Burns grudge-match of sorts was what the PPV was built around, but the long awaited return of Flyweight contender Maycee Barber and Kelvin Gastelum’s attempt to break a three-fight skid were the only real storylines the media highlighted.
Now that the dust has settled, it’s clear as day that a few other fighters have seriously raised their stock. Per usual, I’m here to break down the biggest winners and losers from Saturday night’s action.
Let’s get into it.
CATEGORIES: BLAZING, LUKEWARM, CHILLY, COLD AS ICE
Anthony Hernandez def. Roldolfo Vieira (SUB Round 2 – Anaconda Choke)
Anthony “Fluffy” Hernandez (MMA 8-2-0, UFC 2-2-0) single-handedly raised his stock higher than any fighter has in 2021 thus far. It’s safe to say that Hernandez was nothing more than an afterthought when fans began crunching numbers to see if the $69.99 price tag was worth the slate of matchups served on UFC 258 main card.
Luckily for the fans, Rodolfo Vieira (MMA 7-1-0, UFC 2-1-0) vs Anthony Hernandez was the featured prelim on EPSN+ and a plethora of people were able to watch this gem of a fight for free(ish). Perhaps even luckier was the UFC who potentially scored a bunch of PPV buyers after seeing this incredible, record breaking, odds defying performance.
Let us not forget that the bantamweight clash between Pedro Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera originally scheduled for the UFC 258 main card was cancelled and moved to a later date.
Then the short-notice lightweight matchup between Jim Miller and Bobby Green that was set to fill in the missing slot on the main card was scratched the day before the fight due to kidney failure and air pockets in Bobby Green’s lungs.
Promotional nonsense aside, Hernandez truly did pull off a remarkable feat against Vieira. He was put in multiple bad spots early on, but in the end he weathered the storm and caught the four-time Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Champion and a seven-time World Cup champion in an anaconda choke to serve him his first professional loss in MMA.
In fact, Vieira’s loss marks the first time an Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) gold medalist has lost a UFC bout via submission. The combined UFC record of ADCC champions is 77-43-0-1, and only one of those 43 losses have come via submission.
Anthony Hernandez, enjoy the fruits of your labor. Incredible things can happen when one has undeniable self-belief.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the now .500 UFC fighter has to offer in his next matchup.
Kamaru Usman def. Gilbert Burns (KO Round 3 – Power Jab & Punches)
I could put Kamaru Usman (MMA 18-1-0, UFC 13-0-0) in the BLAZING category in each one of his last five fights, if not more.
In fact, I might have to create a new category for world beaters like Usman, because blazing does not do justice to the performance that he put on at UFC 258.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” proved all of the doubters, including myself, wrong beyond comprehension.
Yes, Gilbert Burns rocked Usman early in the first-round with blitzing strikes, impeccable head movement, and sheer will. But after the round ended and the fighters went back to their corners, you saw the greatness that Usman possesses come out as an undeniable force.
He ate Burns’ best shot and kept walking forward rather than taking the approach he did in the Jorge Masvidal fight where he held his opponent against the cage and used a myriad of footstomps, elbows, and dirty boxing to facilitate a dominant decision victory.
And in the back of his mind, just like all of the fans watching at home, Usman knew that a win against Burns would solidify him as one of the greatest welterweight fighters of all time.
Not because Burns is that good (though he is really, really good), but because the win would mark 13 consecutive victories in the UFC’s welterweight division and that’s one more win that the legendary Georges St. Pierre (MMA 26-2-0, UFC 20-2-0) was able to amass during his run.
But the fact that Usman was able to knockout Gilbert Burns behind the coaching of Colorado’s Trevor Whittman, who emphasized that Usman was a champion because of his jab, is what made this victory that much more impressive.
If anyone was sleeping on Kamaru Usman, I’m sure they’re awake now. Nobody could stay asleep after a performance like that. Hats off to you, Kamaru!
Belal Muhammad def. Dhiego Lima (30-27 x 3)
Belal “Remember the Name” Muhammad (MMA 18-3-0, UFC 9-3-0) did what he does best against Dhiego Lima (MMA 17-8-0, UFC 4-6-0) at UFC 258 – He applied pressure.
The non-stop, relentless approach of Muhammad has been the crux of his current four-fight win-streak, but when we take a closer look it’s evident that the determination to break his opponent has been his game-plan all along.
Coming in as a -350 favorite against Dhiego, who is the older brother of three-time Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima, Muhammad made it abundantly clear why he was such a heavy betting favorite.
He spent the majority of the fight attempting to navigate his way past Lima’s lethal leg kicks with little success as he ate 26 of the 28 leg kicks directed at him. Eerily similar to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s title defense against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, Muhammad walked through those 26 leg kicks and cut through Lima like butter.
He outpaced Lima in terms of striking (136 to 70) and total control, but registered only 1 takedown on 10 attempts. This was the most surprising aspect of the fight, becuase Lima hasn’t exhibited the greatest takedown defense in the past (He was taken down 6 times against Yushin Okami in 2018).
Being that the UFC veteran averages at least one takedown per fight, I’m going to chalk this one up as an inability to gain leverage due his severely battered leg.
Nonetheless, Lima isn’t an easy outing for anybody but I’d like to see the UFC matchmakers present Belal with a real test in his next matchup.
His stock is just high enough for a bout against Geoff Neal (MMA 13-3-0, UFC 5-1-0) who is ranked just outside of the top-10 or even Neil Magny (MMA 24-8-0, UFC 17-7-0) in what would be the ultimate test to determine who is the biggest grinder at 170 (Maybe Chiesa vs Muhammad would be a more appropriate matchup since Chiesa dominated Magny just a few weeks ago).
Ultimately, Muhammad was ranked modestly at #13 going into UFC 258. Now that he’s won 8 of his last 10 bouts and has names such as Takashi Soto, Tim Means, Randy Brown, Curtis Millender, Lyman Good, and now Dhiego Lima on his hit list, it’s clear that he should be much closer to that #5 spot than #15.
Since he called out Li Jingliang (MMA 18-6-0, 10-4-0) in his post-fight interview at UFC 258, Muhammad most likely understands that the UFC doesn’t just want winning fighters, they want exciting fighters who finish fights.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Belal make real noise this year, but he’s going to need to be more active for that to happen. He only fought once in 2020 and he just recorded his first fight of 2021.
Keep an eye out for Belal “Remember the Name” Muhammad.
Polyana Viana def. Mallory Martin (SUB Round 1 – Armbar)
On the All Factors Considered: UFC 258 Preview Show, I marked this bout as one of my sleepers to look out for.
Mallory Martin (MMA 7-4-0, UFC 1-2-0) has already showcased her toughness in her bout against Hannah Cifers which proved to be one of the best come from behind victories of 2020. She opened up the fight pressuring Cifers and establishing her striking per usual, but got dropped with a flush right-hook that sent her to the canvas. She ended up surviving the onslaught and finished Cifers with a rear-naked-choke in the next round which led to the bloodcurdling scream let out by Martin in celebration of the victory.
With all of the emotion stemming from her first UFC victory in the rear-view mirror, I don’t think Martin ever got going in her UFC 258 bout against Polyana Viana (MMA 12-4-0, UFC 3-3-0).
Martin never established a rhythm to her offense and almost immediately bull-rushed in and put herself in Viana’s guard. If she implemented that technique in the later stages of the second or third round I could completely understand – Martin’s top control is legit after all.
The problem is that Martin put herself in the guard of a highly skilled Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner who has finished 8 of her 12 wins via submission – while they were both still completely dry.
Generally speaking, wrestlers try to get a solid sweat going before taking down an opponent who is well-versed in submissions. That way they can increase their chances of escaping in case they get caught in a transition.
Regardless, It’s hard to put much of an assessment on Martin’s performance since the fight ended at the 3:18 mark of round 1, so I’ll reserve judgement and chalk this one up to learning on the job.
The Colorado fighter’s journey to the top-15 just got that much harder, but this is only the fourth loss of her career. I truly believe that Martin has all the tools to become a real-deal contender in the women’s strawweight division – she has the skillset, the attitude, the team (She trains out of Elevation Fight Team), and the youth to turn things around pretty quickly (She’s only 27 years old).
With that being said, I’d like to see Martin face off against the winner of Kay Hansen (MMA 7-4-0, UFC 0-1-0) vs Cheyanne Buys (MMA 5-1-0, UFC Debut) in March. I think that would be a great battle in terms of striking and ground control and can also serve as a solid test for Martin regardless of who the winner of the matchup is.
Book it Dana! Let’s get Martin a few more fights before the end of 2021.
After Further Consideration is the blog space for the All Factors Considered camp. The Stock Report is subjective and represents the stances, views, and opinions of the All Factors Considered camp solely.