UFC 258 Odds, Pick & Prediction: Grab the Value on Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns
Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images. Pictured: Kamaru Usman.
Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns Odds & Picks
Welterweight gold is finally on the line on Saturday night as the division’s No. 1 contender, Gilbert Burns, hopes to put an end to Kamaru Usman’s dominant UFC run.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” is on a 12-fight winning streak since joining the promotion — including two title defenses — and has ascended to No. 5 in the men’s pound-for-pound rankings.
He was originally scheduled to face Burns in July at UFC 251, but the challenger had to withdraw from the bout after contracting COVID-19. Instead, Usman defeated late-replacement Jorge Masvidal to retain the title, but couldn’t heal up in time to face Burns at UFC 256 in December.
Six months later, these two will finally throw down — and we’ll get to see whether Burns is on the same level as his former teammate and the current champion.
Kamaru Usman Odds History
|Date & Opponent||Opening & Closing Odds||Results|
|7/11/20, Jorge Masvidal||-260, -290||W|
|12/14/19, Colby Covington||-300, -220||W|
|3/2/19, Tyron Woodley||+105, +138||W|
|11/30/18, Rafael Dos Anjos||-215, -350||W|
|5/19/18, Demian Maia||-175, -588||W|
Despite recent betting activity against him, before both the Covington and Woodley fights, the betting market has generally sided with Usman throughout his UFC run, with the line moving his direction from open to close before 10 of 12 bouts.
The Woodley win was a complete washout, but Woodley is beginning to look washed up. The Covington read was a much better call by bettors; Colby was tied 2-2 and ahead 3-1 on rounds on two of the three judges scorecards before a late stoppage secured Usman’s first title defense:
Aside from that fight, which was a 25-minute striking war, Usman has rarely lost minutes inside the octagon.
Gilbert Burns Odds History
|Date & Opponent||Opening & Closing Odds||Results|
|5/30/20, Tyron Woodley||+125, +140||W|
|3/14/20, Demian Maia||-150, -190||W|
|9/28/19, Gunnar Nelson||-110, -125||W|
|8/10/19, Aleksei Kunchenko||+140, +110||W|
|4/27/19, Mike Davis||-270, -278||W|
Bettors have been slightly more distrustful of Burns, effectively betting against him, based upon opening odds, in four of his 15 UFC fights to date.
You could now say five of his 16 fights, including the Usman matchup — which has moved more than five percent from -225 (implied 69.2%) at open to -290 (implied 74.4%) as of writing (Graph via Best Fight Odds):
Tale of the Tape
|Avg. Fight Time||17:21||11:17|
|Weight (pounds)||170 lbs.||170 lbs.|
|Date of birth||5/11/87||6/20/86|
|Sig Strikes Per Min||4.5||3.15|
|SS Absorbed Per Min||2.23||2.74|
|Take Down Avg||3.38||2.21|
I’m still a bit surprised that neither Covington nor Usman attempted a takedown over the entirety of their 25-minute scrap — I would like to have seen if Usman’s 100% takedown defense would hold up against one of the best offensive wrestlers in MMA.
Usman has only been controlled for two seconds of cage time across his UFC career, and his defensive control rate (0.02%) is the third-best in promotion history because his average fight time (17:21) ranks fifth in UFC history.
Offensively, Kamaru controls his opponents for 54.3% of his fights despite all that cage time — the ninth-highest rate amongst active fighters (Khabib is sixth at 55.1%) and the highest amongst active Welterweights (Covington is second at 49.6%).
Burns has made substantial improvements to his game and become a significantly more well-rounded fighter in the past two years. However, his takedown defense (50%) is still the most significant question mark in his game and the biggest roadblock in his path to victory.
Going down on both takedown attempts from Demian Maia (26% career takedown accuracy) is a bad look. Though he defended both shots from Tyron Woodley (40% career accuracy) in his last fight, T-Wood is a much better defensive wrestler than offensive.
I took much more away from the fact that Burns was able to put Woodley on his back a couple of times (2-8 on takedown attempts), but I don’t see him getting Usman down with ease – he likely needs to win on the feet, or find an opportunistic submission.
But I can’t get the Maia fight out of my head. Burns did such a poor job of defending that early single-leg — even when he knew it was coming — and fighting Maia off his back in the clinch, it’s hard not to see a far superior wrestler like Usman tossing him around for stretches on Saturday.
I wouldn’t underestimate Usman’s 5-inch edge in reach, either, since he relies on crosses and jabs from range.
Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns Betting Pick
My early projection makes Usman about a 75% moneyline favorite, implied odds of -300, and it sees the fight going the distance just under 69% of the time (implied odds of -217).
As a result, I see value in the fight to go the distance and/or on the Over 4.5 rounds (-140).
I show Burns winning inside of the distance (16.5%) more frequently than by decision (8.5%, so my splits on Usman (60% by decision, 15% inside the distance) are driving the distance line, which provides added value on Usman to win by decision (projected -150) down to about -122 (implied 55%) at a five percent edge.
I prefer to land a 10% edge (+100 or better) on most decision props at APEX due to the increased finish rate (roughly 10%) in the smaller cage and would lock in any plus-money price.
The Pick: Kamaru Usman wins by Decision (+130, 1 unit)