The UFC returns to its Apex facility in Las Vegas this weekend for the first numbered event since Dustin Poirier’s devastating TKO of Conor McGregor in January.
talkSPORT.com brings you the lowdown on the main card and what fans can expect to see on Saturday night at UFC 258.
Kamaru Usman (C) vs Gilbert Burns (1) – Welterweight title bout
It’s friends turned foes in the main event, as Usman looks for a third straight defence of his welterweight title when he takes on his former teammate.
Since dominating Tyron Woodley and becoming champion in 2019, ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’s dominance over the welterweight division cannot be understated.
But for many fans and pundits alike, Burns is by far his toughest challenge yet.
The Brazilian comes into this fight off the back of six straight wins over some of the division’s most well-respected fighters, including Gunnar Nelson, Demian Maia, and former champ Woodley.
With the two men so well-accustomed to each other’s strength and weaknesses having sparred countless amounts of rounds in the gym, the main-event is an extremely intriguing one.
Usman by unanimous decision
Maycee Barber (10) vs. Alexa Grasso (15) – Women’s flyweight bout
Saturday night sees the return of Maycee Barber; one of the hottest prospects in women’s MMA, fighting for the first time since tearing her left ACL over a year ago.
Barber suffered the injury on the preliminary card of UFC 246: McGregor vs. Cerrone in January 2020, and unsurprisingly went on to be dealt her first career defeat by Roxanne Modafferi.
Now with a clean bill of health, the 22-year-old with ambitions of becoming the UFC’s youngest ever champion returns, looking to scale the flyweight rankings and fight for the belt.
To get one step closer to a shot at current champ Valentina Shevchenko, she’ll have to come through a significant test in number fifteen ranked, Alexa Grasso.
After extremely mixed results in her UFC career thus far (4W – 3L), Grasso is seeking back-to-back wins for the first time since signing with the organisation in 2016.
A win over number ten ranked Barber in the co-main event would go a long way in putting her name amongst the conversation with the division’s best.
talkSPORT.com predicts – Barber by split decision
Kelvin Gastelum (9) vs. Ian Heinisch (13) – Middleweight bout
After three consecutive middleweight losses, it really is ‘now or never’ for UFC mainstay Kelvin Gastelum as he takes on Ian Heinisch.
Gastelum suffered defeats to Israel Adesanya, Darren Till and Jack Hermansson in little over a year, but after seven months away from competition, will be hoping for renewed fortunes and another run at UFC gold.
Three years his elder, Heinisch returns to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas off the back of an impressive first-round finish of Gerald Meerschaert at UFC 250.
Despite recent form, Gastelum undoubtedly has a greater array of weapons and methods to victory in this fight, with Heinisch likely to focus more on landing heavy strikes and putting Gastelum away for the first time in his career.
talkSPORT.com predicts – Heinisch by knockout
Maki Pitolo vs. Julian Marquez – Middleweight bout
It’s the battle of the nicknames in this one, as ‘Coconut Bombz’ takes on ‘The Cuban Missile Crisis’.
Even the most dedicated MMA fans would be forgiven for not recognising Marquez’ name when this card was announced.
After tearing his latissimus dorsi in July 2018, UFC 258 marks 953 days since Julian Marquez last stepped foot inside the octagon, and speaking to the media earlier this week, told them “Y’all will remember”.
Not so pleasantly greeting him on his return is Maki Patolo, a man for whom ‘ring rust’ will definitely not be an issue, having competed three times in 2020.
The most recent of those three bouts being back-to-back defeats to the UK’s Darren Stewart and Impa Kasananganay; so if anybody has a point to prove, it’s Pitolo.
talkSPORT.com predicts – Marquez by TKO
Jim Miller vs. Bobby Green – Lightweight bout
Two good, old-fashioned UFC veterans meet in the octagon to kick off Saturday night’s main card.
Jim Miller and Bobby Green have amassed a combined twenty years of time in the UFC between them, so there’s certainly no danger of a lack of experience being an issue in this one.
For UK fans wanting to see fireworks though, it may be worth adjusting those 3am alarms to 3:30am, as Bobby Green’s last seven (yes, seven) fights have all gone to a decision.
On the contrary though, you never know what to expect from Jim Miller, whose resume in recent years consists of wins and losses all by knockouts, submissions and decisions.
talkSPORT.com predicts – Green by unanimous decision