- Date & Location: Saturday July 11 @ Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE
- Odds: Kamaru Usman -190, Gilbert Burns +155
- Prediction: Usman via decision
On July 11, Kamaru Usman puts his UFC welterweight title on the line when he faces his training partner and friend Gilbert Burns in the main event of the UFC 251 pay-per-view card.
Usman won the title in March 2019 with a unanimous decision over Tyron Woodley. In December, Usman defended his belt with a late fifth-round knockout of Colby Covington.
UFC 251 marks Burns’ fifth fight since he moved to welterweight in August 2019. Burns has rocketed up the 170-pound rankings since then. In his four fights at welterweight, Burns has moved from unranked to No. 1 title challenger.
USMAN VS BURNS ODDS
USMAN VS BURNS PREDICTION & PICK
Things could not have worked out better for Burns over the past year. With four wins in 11 months, Jorge Masvidal embroiled in a battle with the UFC over pay, and Leon Edwards unable to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UFC offered this title fight to Burns, who is a deserving challenger for Usman.
Usman has an excellent wrestling base. Burns is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion. With that, I expect this fight will end up as a striking battle.
The defending champion has better stats than Burns in every striking category. He also has a gas tank that never runs dry and more experience in five-round fights. He’s gone the distance in his past four outings, while Burns only has one five-round fight.
Another thing I believe favors Usman is this contest is a fast turnaround for Burns. He defeated former champion Tyron Woodley in a five-round scrap on May 30.
Pick: Usman (-190)
BETTING VALUE WITH USMAN
Burns is a good fighter, but Usman is a great fighter. He has not lost in over seven years and is on a 15-fight winning streak. Usman sets a pace that few fighters can contend with and uses pressure better than any other welterweight currently in the UFC. He also can end fights with his striking.
Usman has an outside chance to wear down Burns over the course of the fight and score a late knockout, but I believe the champ is more likely to earn his ninth career decision win.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
Burns has been the more active fighter over the past year. He’s fought four times for a total cage time of 57:34. Usman has only fought once for a total of under 25 minutes. I believe the wear and tear will not be a good thing for Burns in this matchup.
Usman will be fully rested and there’s an excellent chance he will put a fast pace on Burns from the start of the fight.
The champ has a better overall skill set and, when Usman’s freshness is rolled into the equation, he has the edge in this matchup.
Let’s look at some numbers. In his past three outings, Usman landed 446 significant strikes, his opponents landed 239 and 143 of those came in one bout. Usman landed 14 takedowns. His opponents landed zero. Usman rang up 14 guard passes on the mat. His opponents had zero. Usman won all three of those fights. His opponents in those scraps were ex-interim champ Covington, Woodley and ex-lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos.
As I mentioned earlier, Burns has had a brilliant run since he moved up to welterweight. However, his opponents, outside of his most recent win over Woodley, have not been on the same level of the fighters Usman was matched up against. Besides Woodley, Burns has defeated Demian Maia, Gunnar Nelson, and Alexei Kunchenko.
FIGHT STATS: USMAN VS BURNS
|Kamaru Usman||Category||Gilbert Burns|
|4.60||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||3.15|
|2.17||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||2.74|
|3.44||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||2.21|
|0.20||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||0.7|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
For Usman, a win at UFC 251 will give him three title fight wins. Only Woodley, Matt Hughes and Georges St-Pierre have more title fight victories in UFC welterweight history. A win will also move Usman’s UFC welterweight winning streak to 12, which will tie him for first with St-Pierre at 170 pounds and also tie him with lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov among active UFC winning streaks.
For Burns, an upset victory will put him in the conversation for the best 12-month run in UFC history. Five wins and a UFC title in the same 365-day period would be a remarkable achievement.