A thrilling yet decisive welterweight title bout headlined UFC 258 on Saturday from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas. Kamaru Usman (18-1) moved into second place for most consecutive victories (13) in UFC history after making the third defense of his 170-pound title in a third-round TKO of former teammate Gilbert Burns (19-4).
Let's take a closer look at the biggest takeaways from the pay-per-view card at large following a resounding victory for one of the pound-for-pound best in the sport.
1. Put (a lot) more respect on Kamaru Usman's name
Let's face it, the likely exit of unbeaten welterweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov puts an interesting wrinkle into the current P4P discussion in the UFC. Yes, former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has been a fixture atop this list for nearly a decade, but his recent fights have shown the competition is slowly catching up with him. So, along with middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, Usman used the conclusive nature of his TKO against such a dangerous foe in Burns to catapult himself into the conversation for best fighter in the world.
Usman been extremely dominant since making his UFC debut in 2015, but largely did so with his wrestling as he entered Saturday having gone the distance in nine of his last 11 fights. But the manner in which Usman used a stinging jab to set up his right hands and eventually finish Burns shows you how rapidly the 33-year-old champion continues to evolve. Add in the fact that he took Burns' best punch in Round 1 and only left his feet for a split second -- one can no longer refer to Usman as boring or one-dimensional. It's time to start referring to Usman what he actually is: quite possibly the best and most dominant fighter in the sport today.
2. Trevor Wittman is really good at polishing diamonds
Tossing too much credit at a coach instead of a fighter for his or her improvement can be a precarious move, but Wittman continues to prove his genius ways with each elite fighter with whom he aligns himself. After helping Rose Namajunas and Justin Gaethje make the final leap to their championship form, Wittman is clearly having an equally large effect on Usman in just their second training camp together.
Along with Usman's aforementioned jab, which he used like a prime Georges St-Pierre as a lead weapon, "The Nigerian Nightmare" showed an increased comfortability in switching stances and giving Burns unexpected looks on the feet. Usman was already a dominant champion when he left Sanford MMA in Florida to join forces with Wittman, but it's clear their working relationship has done wonders for Usman's steady evolution. The fact that he can be this dominant and only getting better remains a scary proposition for the rest of the sport, and continues to showcase just how valuable a mentor Wittman continues to be.
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3. It might be time for Maycee Barber to slow her roll
This doesn't mean Team Barber needs to panic. But the polarizing 22-year-old prospect, who is rapidly running out of time in her goal of besting Jon Jones' record as the youngest UFC champion, has now tasted defeat for the second straight time in a difficult style matchup against Alexa Grasso. Barber, as she showed throughout her rally in the final round, still possess such an attractive mix of power and explosion that helped her initially make her name. But the last two fights also exposed how much she still has to work on from the standpoint of footwork, technique and game-planning in order to get to the title level.
Grasso had the answer to smother or stifle Barber's forward attack at just about every turn in the early going, and showed an improved grappling ability to keep her back off of the mat. Being young and brash is fun, but there's no substitute for experience. For the second straight fight, Barber received the kind of valuable instruction that often only comes from defeat. It's going to likely take more time than she wants for her to truly become a legitimate title threat. Barber has the tools to get there, but she just needs more refining.
4. Kelvin Gastelum reminded critics of his pedigree
Very few fighters not named Yoel Romero can retain their elite status within MMA despite riding a three-fight losing skid after having dropped four of five overall. But the 29-year-old Gastelum, for as streaky as he can be, only seems to lose to top-ranked fighters. That gap in class was evident in Gastelum's convincing decision win over Ian Heinisch as the southpaw relied more on his wrestling than his rocket left hand to get back into the win column.
Gastelum said he entered the Octagon fighting for his job. Although his victory was far more workmanlike than spectacular, it was needed for him to put the past away and continue down a path where his flashes of brilliance from the path become more of a consistency than an aberration. Gastelum likely earned him a big name to come back against with the win, and might not be as far away from a title shot given his name value as critics might think provided he can continue stringing victories together.
5. To heck with the betting odds
Coming in having won just one of his last four outings, middleweight Anthony Hernandez entered as a huge betting underdog against unbeaten Brazilian submission expert Rodolfo Viera. And if you fancied Hernandez to win via submission? Talk about a long shot at 30-1. Few could have imagined the wild first round that would happen next as Viera wrestled Hernandez down and took his back with ease in the opening 30 seconds but couldn't produce a tap. The effort he put in to try and do so surprisingly left the sculpted Viera a sitting duck to strikes once it became clear late in the round that he was exhausted.
The giant swing in momentum was dramatic as Viera was lucky to make it to Round 2, and couldn't revive himself once the second stanza got underway. Hernandez rallied to do what most felt was impossible coming in: submit Viera via kata gatame choke to complete a huge upset, which reminds us that betting odds are there as a guide but far from gospel in this constantly unpredictable sport.