UFC Champion Kamaru Usman overpowered Gilbert Burns with punches 34 seconds into the third round at UFC 258 on Saturday night, retaining his welterweight title with his 13th consecutive UFC victory.
Usman (18-1 MMA, 13-0 UFC) landed a right hand as he was switching stances to floor Burns, then slammed Burns with punches on the ground until referee Herb Dean pulled him off.
The ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ jumped up and yelled to the mostly empty gym to “put some respect on my name!”
A card loaded with memorable performances 💵 #UFC258
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“Gilbert is a guy that I’ve known from the start,” Usman said in his post-fight interview. “I love him. This one was tough for me to deal with.”
“I’m the varsity guy,” Usman said. “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.”
Usman and Burns were teammates in South Florida since 2012, first with the Blackzilians and most recently with Sanford MMA. Usman departed for Colorado to train under coach Trevor Wittman last year after the initial fight with Burns was scheduled for July. But Burns tested positive for COVID-19 and withdrew from that bout. Henri Hooft, the longtime head coach for both Usman and Burns, did not corner either man and said he would not even watch the fight.
“Guys, you cannot discredit what Gilbert Burns has done in this division,” Usman said. “We started together. We started this journey together, and he showed it tonight. He went in there and put it all together.”
With this victory, Usman defended his title for the third time and broke Georges St. Pierre’s UFC record for consecutive welterweight victories with another resourceful, clever performance that ended with a fierce display of power to stop Burns (19-4), his former teammate and sparring partner.
Only Anderson Silva, who won 16 straight fights as the UFC’s long-reigning middleweight champion, has won more consecutive UFC bouts than Usman, who also tied Khabib Nurmagomedov’s mark for the second-most consecutive wins to start a UFC career. Usman joined six fighters have racked up 13 straight UFC victories.