UFC 258 Betting Pick: Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns

This fight between two former teammates was supposed to happen last year but I believe it was guys in the corner of Gilbert Burns who either tested a false positive like most or they actually had the COV and that is what postponed this UFC Welterweight World Title fight until this week.

Kamaru Usman is one of the most dominant fighters in the history of mixed martial arts and it is so incredibly difficult to even think about picking against him. Hey, I am, like many others, more of a fan of Jorge Masvidal or Gilbert Burns than I am Kamaru Usman.

It’s only natural to pull for the fighter who is actively trying to finish the fight as opposed to someone who just wants the judges to tell them who won. We can’t just say these guys were wrestlers because everyone is a wrestler these days.

I don’t know how you get by without it.

Well, you don’t. Kamaru Usman, as boring of a foot stomper and wall ‘n staller as he might be, is now the best in the world at it since Khabib has “retired”. I left my fandom behind for this betting thing.

The “old fanboy me” would be picking Gilbert Burns here because he is a finisher but my pick would be under the guise of an underdog or pass situation. I had to mature this way of thinking and focus it in on the betting value of a fighter.

That is when I fell in love with those I once hated. I still can’t listen to Kamaru Usman talk for more than a couple of minutes at a time, though. I don’t know what it is. He is a super nice guy but Gilbert’s personality just appeals to me more.

Burns is a former world champion Brazilian Jiu Jitsu player and Kamaru, albeit at Division III, was a national champion wrestler.

Gilbert, since moving up to 170 pounds, has become a knockout artist to go along with this violent style of grappling. It has worked out quite well for the Rio de Janeiro born and South Florida living, Durinho.

These two men were teammates of one another for years and there aren’t too many guys in the gym that can give one of the most dominant champions in history a hard time. The coaches and handlers have to wear down Usman with shark tanks just to get him worried about his sparring partners.

After years of training together, we can conclude that both men are well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of their opponent. Will they be able to apply this knowledge or not?

Time will tell and thankfully there isn’t much more of that left before Saturday night’s UFC 258 from Las Vegas, Nevada.

BetOnline has the betting odds for this fight. Let’s take a look at those and make a prediction on either a winner or a round total for the main event of UFC 258.

Kamaru Usman (-262) vs Gilbert Burns (+222)

Did the online sportsbooks get this one right or no?

Well, Kamaru’s betting odds of (-262) denote an implied probability of 72.3% while Durinho comes in at 31%. I think they have this one lined pretty well, to be honest with you guys. They are making it difficult for bettors to get an edge here.

I know some top dogs that are on Burns this week and I also know the more level headed guys are going with the world champion. We would have to give Gilbert Burns a 40% chance to win in order to have the edge on the sportsbooks that we need to make money.

I don’t think I can confidently say that I believe Gilbert Burns wins 4 out of 10 times these two men fight. As far as The Nigerian Nightmare is concerned, we have to give him an 80% chance at victory to make a strong play.

I think this one is around 70/30 and that is where they have it lined.

How about the over under?

Well, for around the same price that you can get Kamaru Usman to win on the moneyline, you can take the fight to go past the halfway mark of 2.5 rounds for a (-250) payday. I would rather play this than just betting Kamaru straight up.

I am not, however, on board with the idea that this fight is likely to go all 5 rounds. That is a tough call to make as I think it is about 50/50 right now. There is no way Gilbert Burns has amazing cardio as explosive as he is.

That just isn’t how the human body works. You can’t have the best of both worlds and Gilbert is surely on the fast twitch muscle end of the spectrum while Kamaru is on the other end.

Now that Usman has left their camp in South Florida and joined forces with Team Elevation over a mile high in Colorado, I expect an even greater cardio and muscle endurance advantage from Kamaru.

This will likely happen around the championship rounds. Usman is accustomed now to fighting 5 full rounds and even though Gilbert went 5 in a dominant win over Tyron Woodley, it isn’t like the rapper was putting any sort of pressure on him AT ALL.

Woodley just sits back and waits. If he is fighting someone with power or that could take him down, he just locks up. I don’t know what happened to him but fighting is clearly more mental than physical and Tyron Woodley is the PERFECT example of that.

I bring up the T-Wood fight because this may have been Gilbert’s toughest test to date and that is not saying much these days!

Before his domination of Tyron Woodley, Durinho fought Damien Maia, who is also quite far past his prime but to Gilbert’s credit, he did knock him out with a clean hook. Maia has notoriously been nearly impossible to finish.

The oddsmakers want an investment of (-150) for the fight to go to a decision. I think that sounds horrible! Locking these two killers, especially Burns inside the Octagon for 25 minutes and a small Octagon at that, whew, I don’t know about paying the juice for that.

Well, I do know that I don’t want to do that.

So, no moneyline and no round total so what are we to bet on?

Method of Victory!

There are a couple of them that I am looking at right now. Gilbert Burns is not likely to win a decision and you can get him to win inside the distance at 4 to 1 which is double his payout of (+200) on the moneyline.

Kamaru Usman, conversely, isn’t likely to win by stoppage but I have my theories. We should make this disclaimer right now that when betting on a method of victory, you can obviously get a better payout than just chasing the moneyline but you likely aren’t going to be able to squeeze much value out of the bet unless it goes against the narrative.

The narrative here is Burns by stoppage or Usman by decision but Kamaru Usman could very well finish Durinho in this fight.

For one, Gilbert is a kill or be killed type of fighter and he knows that his only chance at victory is to make this fight a grimey one. He has to sit down on his punches and defend the cage stalling at all costs.

Durinho is very explosive as I mentioned earlier and I can’t imagine, unless there was a major injury we aren’t hearing about, that Burns is going to be able to hang with Usman’s cardio. So, if this one goes like I think it will, Gilbert may have some moments early on but by the 3rd or 4th round, Usman will be settling into his control game while Gilbert is sucking for air.

From there, does the well disciplined Usman with a fight IQ higher than his weight in pounds cruise to a decision victory or does the dog in Kamaru come out and use fatigue to finish his opponent?

Well, he is (+250) for a finish and (+125) now for a decision win. We tipped Kamaru by decision at the beginning of the week while his betting odds were still up at (+150) so it feels good to get ahead of the line movement.

You know the online sportsbooks are giving Usman a chance at a finish here and I can understand why. He has a great job, a reach advantage, a solid straight right hand, and most importantly, a cardio advantage.

If both fighters get tired, a look at the over for a round total is not a bad idea but if we have just one getting tired and the other still rocking, a potential finish is surely on the table.

I will stick with our pick of Usman by decision. I don’t think I would bet it if the odds dropped any further than where they are now but we are still getting plus money on what I consider around a 50/50 opportunity.

Hopefully, you guys read my Monday MMA Mashup this week and jumped on the (+150). If not, no sweat, guys. This is the main event and even though we don’t have the highest profile of fights on the rest of the card, there is undoubted betting value throughout.

My Pick
Usman by Decision

In Conclusion

I really want to see Kamaru Usman lose. I like the guy and what he did to Colby Covington will live long in the hearts of Americans as well as our neighbors around the globe.

As much the hardcore MMA fans like myself wanted to see who the better pressure wrestler was in a battle of clearly the two best guys in the division, we were actually treated to a 24 minute stand up war.

That made me a fan of Kamaru when decided that, you know what, I want to punch this guy in the face more than anything else and that’s what he did. Then to break the jaw of the biggest big mouth (bigger than Conor’s) in the UFC, fans were elated.

I think even MAGA people enjoyed that one because Covington wasn’t doing Trump’s cause any favors as he reminded the country of the negatives of our former president. What America needed, potentially, was to focus on some of the man’s good deeds and policies.

Covington did make a name for himself and considering he didn’t have the most exciting fighting style, it was a good business decision to do so but he really put himself out there and made people hate him.

Covington talked trash about immigrants and singled out Usman. That’s when I had to pull for the Nigerian Nightmare. This is a nation built on immigration and as an American whose family has been in the States since before Jamestown, I have always admired an immigrant mentality.

Please Note:

Kamaru Usman’s picture should be in the dictionary right next to those two words. He embodies them and continues to carry that chip on his shoulder to this day, even as a multiple time defending world champion in the UFC.

As far as the main event of UFC 258 goes, I like the champ’s chances at a decision victory. Gilbert Burns is not accustomed to fighting a high pace 25 minute fight and Usman is. Kamaru also has the size advantage as well as the edge in the wrestling department.

For those reasons, I have to take him to defeat Gilbert Burns by decision for plus money!

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.