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Usman stops Burns in 3rd, keeps welterweight belt at UFC 258

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Kamaru Usman stopped Gilbert Burns with punches 34 seconds into the third spherical at UFC 258 on Saturday evening, retaining his welterweight title along with his thirteenth consecutive UFC victory.

Usman (18-1) defended his title for the third time and broke Georges St. Pierre’s UFC report for consecutive welterweight victories with one other resourceful, intelligent efficiency that ended with a fierce show of energy to cease Burns (19-4), his former teammate and sparring accomplice.

After Usman bought dropped in the primary spherical, he recovered impressively to manage the second. He ended the battle with model in the third, placing Burns flat on his again with a superbly positioned proper hand simply 25 seconds into the spherical.

Usman pounced and landed one other strike that bounced Burns’ head off the canvas. He continued to pound the challenger on the bottom till referee Herb Dean stepped in.

The Nigeria-born Texan jumped up and yelled to the largely empty gymnasium to “put some respect on my name!”

“I’m the varsity guy,” Usman mentioned. “My fight IQ is different. It’s different when you’re in the gym with me, and when you get in (the cage), it’s a different ballgame. I’m a whole ’nother savage.”

Only Anderson Silva, who received 16 straight fights because the UFC’s long-reigning middleweight champion, has received extra consecutive UFC bouts than Usman, who additionally tied Khabib Nurmagomedov’s mark for the second-most consecutive wins to start out a UFC career. Usman joined six fighters have racked up 13 straight UFC victories.

Mexican flyweight Alexa Grasso beat younger contender Maycee Barber by unanimous resolution in the co-main occasion of the UFC’s first pay-per-view present because it returned from Fight Island to the Apex gymnasium on its company campus in Las Vegas.

Usman and Burns had been longtime teammates in South Florida earlier than Usman moved his coaching camp to Colorado early final year, partly in anticipation of this showdown. MMA teammates usually don’t battle one another, however Usman and Burns had no downside setting apart their historical past to battle for a title.

“This was a tough one for me to deal with,” Usman mentioned. “Gilbert is a guy that I’ve known from the start. I love him.”

After Usman refused to the touch gloves earlier than the battle, Burns surprised the champ in the opening minute with a brief proper hook that knocked Usman to his knees. Usman recovered and centered on leg kicks, however grew to become extra cautious of Burns’ placing velocity and combos.

Usman took cost of the second spherical with extra exact placing, breaking down Burns’ protection and hurting the challenger. Usman then ended it with the technical talent that units his quieter skills aside in a division stuffed with bombastic challengers to his greatness.

Usman and Burns had been scheduled to battle twice in the earlier year, however each bouts had been scrapped. Burns examined constructive for COVID-19 final summer time, and Usman pulled out of their scheduled battle final December as a result of he wanted extra time to return from damage.

Grasso (13-3) improved to 2-0 at flyweight after a checkered career at strawweight, controlling the primary two rounds in opposition to Barber with superior placing and technical abilities. All three judges favored Grasso 29-28 over the 22-year-old Barber, who hadn’t fought in 13 months after injuring her knee in her first career loss to Roxanne Modaferri.

Earlier, veteran middleweight Kelvin Gastelum ended his three-fight shedding streak with a unanimous resolution over Ian Heinisch for his first victory since 2018.

Two fights on the UFC 258 card had been scrapped lower than two days earlier than the present, leaving simply 10 fights on the cardboard. Gillian Robertson and Bobby Green each needed to pull out of their bouts with well being illnesses apparently unrelated to COVID-19.

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