Monday Morning Reactions After UFC 258: Kamaru Usman-Jorge Masvidal 2 and More

Kelsey McCarsonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 15, 2021

Monday Morning Reactions After UFC 258: Kamaru Usman-Jorge Masvidal 2 and More

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    UFC 258 was packed with memorable action.

    The latest UFC pay-per-view card was headlined by an important welterweight title fight between dominant champ Kamaru Usman and top-rated contender Gilbert Burns.

    Usman withstood the early pressure of the Brazilian to score a dramatic third-round knockout victory over his former training partner.

    But what happens now that UFC 258 is over? Behold the B/R MMA crew's Monday morning reactions to UFC 258: Usman vs. Burns.

Has Kamaru Usman Officially Entered into the MMA GOAT Conversation?

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    Tom Taylor: I say yes. He's on a 13-fight win-streak, and he's beaten six of the UFC's 10 best welterweights. That's precisely the recipe for GOAT status: prolonged success against the highest level of opposition.

    At this stage, Usman still falls short when compared to guys like Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones and Demetrious Johnson, but he's definitely in the conversation, and his case will only get stronger each time he beats a fighter of Burns' ilk.


    Scott Harris: Absolutely not. And, frankly, it's time to put this question to bed unless it's actually warranted. He's not even the best fighter in the UFC right now, sitting behind Khabib Nurmagomedov, Jon Jones, Israel Adesanya and Stipe Miocic on the official pound-for-pound rankings. He's also not the best welterweight in history—not even close—as Georges St-Pierre has nine title defenses to Usman's three.

    If we're going to bring this up every time a champion has a dominant win, it sort of cheapens the conversation for those who actually merit such discussion. I'm not saying Usman can never be part of this conversation, but he has a long way to go.


    Kelsey McCarson: Usman is on his way to becoming one of the most dominant champions in UFC history. While his resume obviously can't compare right now to the likes of Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva, Usman does appear to be similar to those guys in their primes.

    The main issue Usman will have will be maintaining that level of superiority. Jones did it, but most people can't. I consider Jones the GOAT right now, but maybe Usman dominates the sport for the next decade to change my mind.


    Lyle Fitzsimmons: All due respect to my esteemed colleague, I say yes. At least in the sense that he can be in the room when the conversation's being had. Perhaps standing along the wall. He's not right there with the all-time bests in the business just yet, but he's trending that way, and last night's win did nothing to change the momentum.

Can Anyone in the Welterweight Division Beat Kamaru Usman?

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    Tom Taylor: No fighter, no matter how dominant, is invincible. There's definitely somebody out there with the skills to beat Kamaru Usman. That being said, I don't think that person is in the UFC right now.

    If Gilbert Burns, Jorge Masvidal, Colby Covington, Tyron Woodley and Leon Edwards couldn't pull it off, it's hard to imagine there's anybody on the promotion's roster that can.

    Right now, in the context of the current UFC welterweight division, the guy seems untouchable.


    Scott Harris: Well, before Saturday, I thought maybe Burns was the guy. I thought wrong. After the fight, Usman called out Jorge Masvidal, but there's no reason to suggest Masvidal would have anything new for Usman since their first meeting, which Usman dominated.

    Leon Edwards provides an interesting potential foil, but Usman and his wrestling would be the clear favorite. Ditto Stephen Thompson. Khamzat Chimaev is exciting but nowhere near ready. This looks like Usman's division for the time being.


    Kelsey McCarson: Usman looks solid, and I think he deserves to be considered one of the best fighters in the sport.

    To draw a comparison to the boxing world, he reminds me of Floyd Mayweather Jr. a little bit before "Money" became the biggest name in the sweet science.

    Like Mayweather was back then, Usman is dominant but not incredibly popular. What happened with Mayweather is that people eventually saw how great a fighter he was, so the bandwagon grew beyond measure.

    All Usman needs to do is continue to beat up the best 170 pounders in the sport. I think he has the talent, skill and ability to do that. Anyone can be beaten in a fight, but Usman is likely to be a heavy favorite on the betting market against any other welterweight.


    Lyle Fitzsimmons: Not as it's currently constructed, no. As everyone's already pointed out, he has convincingly beaten every deserving contender in the division, and it's difficult to envision anyone without a low single-digit alongside his name doing anything they've not been able to do.

Interested in a Usman-Masvidal 2 Run Back?

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    Tom Taylor: I can't say I'm particularly thrilled about this rematch. Short-notice or not, Usman's 2020 win over Masvidal was pretty lopsided, and I don't imagine that giving the pair full-length training camps will change much.

    That being said, there aren't really any better options for Usman right now. Leon Edwards is right there but hasn't fought since 2019, so he's a bit of a tough sell. Colby Covington also has some claim to another shot at Usman, but no more than Masvidal, and he can't blame his 2019 loss to the champ on lack of preparation.

    Unless Georges St-Pierre decides to return, or Khabib Nurmagomedov decides to delay his retirement and move up to welterweight, there are really no better choices for the champ at present.


    Scott Harris: As noted before, there's really no viable alternative. But no, no real interest. Given Masvidal's penchant for trash talk and pot-stirring, the run-up to the fight will be far more intriguing than the fight itself.


    Kelsey McCarson: I'm more than just "interested." I think it's the most super necessary rematch in the UFC, one that features the division's clear best fighter, Usman, and its biggest superstar, Masvidal. Say what you want about the UFC "BMF" champ's chances, Masvidal appeared dangerous enough during the first round of the last fight that I would love to see what he can do with a full training camp.


    Lyle Fitzsimmons: Would I watch it? Sure. Would it be my first choice? No. I'm not sure if it's on his mind at all, but I'd rather see Usman find himself a willing lightweight or a willing middleweight and engage in an interdivisional duel. But if it's got to be at 170 pounds, and I know it's early, but I'd be as interested in Chimaev as anyone.

Thoughts on Anthony Hernandez's Stunning Submission Win over Rodolfo Vieira

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    Tom Taylor: It's always impressive when somebody is beaten at their own game. That's why fans were so flabbergasted when Dustin Poirier knocked Conor McGregor out last month. It's not that McGregor losing was particularly shocking—we'd seen it happen before—but very few people expected him to be knocked out because he's considered one of the sport's best strikers.

    This isn't to suggest that McGregor's striking is anywhere near as good as Vieira's grappling, of course. The Brazilian is a multiple-time BJJ world champion and has made such a habit of tapping out world-class foes that he's known as the "The Black Belt Hunter." There were a lot of ways he could have lost to Hernandez at UFC 258, but his being submitted seemed downright impossible. So yeah, it was pretty spectacular to see.


    Scott Harris: There's a saying in the basketball world that you can't just throw your jerseys on the court and expect to win. In other words, no matter how big of a favorite you are, you still have to show up and handle your business. Vieira was a massive -450 favorite, on average. To lose—and by submission no less—was a bucket of cold water on Vieira's UFC career and what was a promising addition to the middleweight division.


    Kelsey McCarson: There was so much to love about UFC 258, and Hernandez's victory over Vieira was one of them. What stuck out to me most about the fight is that Hernandez appeared to be getting worked over but that he never conceded defeat. That spirit is what led to his incredible comeback, and to get the victory via submission was that much sweeter.


    Lyle Fitzsimmons: Easily the most fun fight on the card. I was with the broadcast team in thinking Hernandez was toast when Vieira got him to the floor early in their match, and he'd have gotten huge props just for getting back to his feet.

    It was clear once he began landing that Vieira was completely gassed. It reminded me of Ronda Rousey when she got to the second round against Holly Holm or McGregor when he went past the first in the initial Nate Diaz match.