UFC 258: Usman vs. Burns Prelims Predictions

Hey readers! UFC 258 is upon us, and the fighters start their walks to the Octagon is just under four hours. While the card overall doesn’t have the name value typically associated with a UFC PPV, there are some fun and interesting matchups that you won’t want to miss.

I’m a little late on this one, so let’s just jump into it.

Flyweight: Gillian Robertson vs. Miranda Maverick

A couple of flyweight prospects face off in this UFC 258 opener. Both are primarily grapplers, but the way that these two women implement their ground game is a bit different. Roberts is a submission-based ground fighter while Maverick is more of a grinder when the fight hits the floor. The major edge in this bout is held by Maverick who has some really slick movement on the feet. She throws out varied combinations followed by angle cutting and moving out of harm’s way. Maverick also has some great range management. On the feet, Roberts is willing to engage, but primarily with kicks before leaping into takedown attempts in the form of ankle picks and low singles. The wrestling of Roberts may prove difficult to Maverick who sometimes struggles off her back on the ground. That said, Maverick doesn’t stay in the same place for too long which may make the takedown difficult for Roberts.

Pick: Miranda Maverick.

Welterweight: Gabe Green vs. Philip Rowe

We have a pretty big height disparity in this one. Green is 5’10” and Rowe is much taller at 6’3″, and he fights like it too. Rowe throws long kicks and punches, attempting to pick his opponents off at range. He moves well, but he does seem to leave his chin open while trading and retreating. Looking at the footage, Green has cleaned up his stand up quite a bit in the last few years even though he hasn’t been super active – he has only had two fights in two years. That said, his opponent, Rowe hasn’t fought since his Contender Series showcase in 2019. While the skillset of Rowe seems tailor-made to take out Green, I think the recent activity of Green, compared with his hard-nosed approach to the fight make him a bad match for Rowe. Rowe likes for opponents to let him breathe and work from the outside, but I don’t see Green letting him do that.

Pick: Gabe Green.

Featherweight: Ricky Simon vs. Brian Kelleher

Ricky Simon gettin’ right back into the Octagon! He just fought January 20th, but here is is ten pounds up facing a tough UFC vet in Brian Kelleher. All in all, this should be a fun one, and a good test for the young Ricky Simon. I feel that this bout will play out similarly to Kelleher’s matchup against Cody Stamann where Kelleher played wily veteran, but was ultimately outworked by younger opposition. That said, Simon is much more likely to let the fight turn into a brawl, which undoubtable favors a durable cardio-machine like Kelleher. Kelleher possesses some great boxing and better than competent groundwork; both of which will be a tough measure of the growth of Simon, who has been vulnerable to strikes in the past. Make no mistake: Kelleher has definite avenues to victory. Simon will have to cross his T’s and dot his lower-case J’s in this one, but his improvement as of late has me feeling like he will have what it takes to get the job done on Saturday.

Pick: Ricky Simon.

Catchweight (140lbs): Andre Ewell vs. Chris Gutierrez

This bout has a chance to be either slow and tactical or a rip roarin’ good time. Both fighters are on the taller side for bantamweight, and both like to strike from the outside with kicks. That said, Ewell is a more aggressive boxer, and he hits super hard when he gets inside. Gutierrez relies more heavily on his kicks, specifically side kicks and roundhouse kicks to the body. The difference in this one might be conditioning. If Gutierrez sets a high pace, which is not typical for him, he might be able to wear out Ewell. That said, the feinting style of Gutierrez might not work against Ewell, who has the range and aggressiveness with his boxing to possibly stifle the kicks of Gutierrez.

Pick: Andre Ewell.

Strawweight: Polyana Viana vs. Mallory Martin

Another interesting matchup for the prelims features two women who tout well-rounded games, but are looking to get on a roll after a couple of stumbles in the Octagon. Martin utilizes some fantastic boxing, but has been vulnerable to strikes in the past. She had a pretty close call in her bout against Hanna Cifers, getting dropped and almost finished in the first round. Viana is a long striker, but she is most dangerous on the ground. Martin should mix it up in this one, but she will have to be very careful if she ends up in Viana’s guard. While I think Viana is a definite threat in this bout, I think the more well-rounded and strength=based approach of Martin should get it done.

Pick: Mallory Martin.

Welterweight: Dhiego Lima vs. Belal Muhammad

Who breaks through to the next level of the welterweight division? Both of these athletes are riding three-fight winning streaks, and all the momentum is on the line. I think the key to this bout will be the excellent movement of Muhammad. If he can do what he usually does, which is utilize quick footwork and stance switches to land varied combinations, he will be successful against the much more textbook Lima. That said, if Lima can start to land his trademark leg kicks, the movement of Muhammad will become less of a factor. If Lima stops or slows the movement of Muhammad, it will be a more straightforward battle of striking technique, and I think Lima wins that. In terms of the wrestling and grappling, I feel that while both men do some things better than the other, it will end up being even if we see that side of the fight. My prediction is not a popular one, but I feel it.

Pick: Dhiego Lima.

Middleweight: Rodolfo Vieira vs. Anthony Hernandez

Hernandez better mind his P’s and Q’s in this one if it ends up on the floor. Vieira is a multi-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion, and has put those skills to great use in the Octagon, submitting both of his UFC opponents. Hernandez will need to keep it standing in this one, and the mistakes he normally gets away with on the floor will not slip by so easily against Vieira. While Hernandez is a fine fighter; he has grit and is a solid striker. That said, Vieira’s grappling is going to simply be too much. Hernandez is rather flat-footed and is not active with movement which will make him an easy target for the powerful takedowns of Vieira. It might sound like I’m being dismissive of Hernandez, but I do think he is good. He belongs in the UFC, but this is just a terrible matchup for him.

Pick: Rodolfo Vieira.

And that’s it! Thanks for reading, and enjoy the fights!

If you’d like to keep up with me outside of the predictions, you can catch me on the Sparring Partners Podcast, either on YouTube or Spotify.

Feel free to reach out in the comments below!

Categories: UFC, UFC Predictions

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