Here are the highlights from Dana White’s media scrum following UFC 258.
It was a long-awaited title fight but it finally came in the main event of UFC 258, and it seemed Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns lived up to the hype. It certainly did to UFC President Dana White, who, per usual, spoke to the media following the card.
Burns rocked his former teammate in the opening seconds, but Usman battled back with heavy blows of his own en route to a third-round TKO to retain the championship.
The night was also filled with highlight performances from the likes of Alexa Grasso, Kelvin Gastelum, Julian Marquez, Anthony Hernandez and Polyana Viana.
Here’s what we learned from the post-fight scrum with the UFC’s head honcho:
Here is what we learned from UFC President Dana White following UFC 258
1. Dana White feels Kamaru Usman can be in the welterweight G.O.A.T. conversation alongside Georges St-Pierre
With his win tonight over Burns, Usman broke the record for most consecutive wins at welterweight with 13, breaking a tie he had with former longtime UFC welterweight king George St Pierre entering this fight. In fact, Usman is a perfect 13-0 inside the Octagon and hasn’t lost an MMA fight since his second pro bout.
Usman’s win streak, skillset and dominating victories (let alone the title fights he’s had thus far) can all point to “The Nigerian Nightmare” being a star in the sport. It seems, however, that said kind of perception has not hit home with everybody, with plenty in the MMA community believing Usman to be a boring fighter, or at the very least not connecting with fans like other big stars.
White, however, says that true people in the game know that this Usman victory gives him another big step towards his maximum greatness. And, White says, that should also take into consideration Usman’s backstory, family, personality, presentability and mic skills.
“For the people that actually know about fighting, they know that this win tonight was a big deal over a motivated, well-trained, mentally tough, bada** kid,” White said.
“He’s the whole package. The guy’s got the whole thing; it’s just when are people going to notice?”
The conversation in the wake of Usman’s victory appears to be where Usman currently finds himself among 170 pound’s all-time best — and where he still has to go if he does. Usman’s three title defenses thus far are a far cry from GSP’s 11, but when considering all the fights Usman has had in the Octagon already — and the level of competition he’s facing — White believes Usman needs to be put into the GOAT conversation if he isn’t already.
“He just broke [GSP’s] record tonight,” White said. “If Usman can keep doing what he’s doing, he’s going to go down as the greatest welterweight ever. It’s a fact. Look at who he’s fought and who he has to fight in the future, it’s undeniable that this guy will go down as the best welterweight. The question is where will he go down in the history of the sport.”
2. Dana White is open to the idea of Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal 2
Following his victory over Burns, as part of his immediate post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, Usman took time out to call out a familiar face and rival — Masvidal.
Usman already has defeated Masvidal, scoring a unanimous decision win over him at UFC 251. That card was where the originally scheduled showdown between Usman and Burns was supposed to take place, but a positive COVID-19 test forced Burns off the card, with Masvidal filling in on six days’ notice. Usman used his expert grappling to clearly defeat Masvidal in a somewhat disappointing affair.
Usman claimed the six days’ notice allows Masvidal to have an excuse, and he stated that their rivalry isn’t over. Usman said he’d be willing to give Masvidal a whole fight camp and could still find a way to finish “Gamebred” in a second meeting.
There are currently no firm plans for Masvidal at the moment, and he hasn’t fought since the title bout with Usman. There were rumors Masvidal and Colby Covington could serve as coaches for The Ultimate Fighter in the lead-up to a fight, but those plans aren’t firm — and that idea now seems to be in jeopardy with the possibility of Covington filling in against Leon Edwards on March 13.
White, for what it’s worth, says he’ll keep the idea of a rematch in mind.
“There’s a lot of options for him right now,” White said. “If that’s the fight he wants and that’s the fight Masvidal wants, then I’m sure the people would like to see it, too.”
3. Dana White calls Kamaru Usman’s fight with Colby Covington at UFC 245 one of his favorite fights
While Usman’s fight with Burns was quite entertaining, it wasn’t the first time we saw Usman in a highly praiseworthy title defense. And it was at that time, White said, that he thought Usman should’ve been considered a true star.
At UFC 245, Usman made his first defense of the welterweight gold, taking on Colby Covington, the former interim champion. Usman and Covington had been having quite the intense rivalry, which saw incidents such as Covington invading Usman’s open workout, Usman and Covington’s confrontation post-fight and the day after UFC 235 and an intense confrontation following Covington’s win over Robbie Lawler.
All the bad blood came ahead at UFC 245, and the two grappling experts threw devastating hands for nearly 25 minutes until Usman battered Covington and put him away in the fifth and final round.
When asked about how long it’d take for Usman to be considered a breakout star, White points out the competition Usman has had to face, and in particular, mentions the showdown with Covington. White added that he considers their UFC 245 fight one of the greatest bouts he’s ever seen.
“This guy’s got nothing but bada** dudes lined up ahead of him,” White said. “If he doesn’t have the respect now, he should’ve got it after the Covington fight. I can’t stop talking about the Covington fight. It’s one of the greatest fights I’ve ever seen. Anybody who didn’t respect him after that, that’s your problem, not his.”