Gilbert Burns is entering the biggest fight of his career later tonight (Sat., May 30, 2020) live on ESPN/ESPN+ from inside UFC APEX facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, when he takes on former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, and “Durinho’s” confidence seems to be at an all-time high.
Burns, who knocked out Demian Maia back in March to win his third-straight fight since returning to 170 pounds last year, wasn’t expected to fight someone like Woodley so soon. “Chosen One” was originally scheduled to fight Leon Edwards at UFC London back in March, but COVID-19 conditions quickly changed that and has led us to this weekend’s welterweight headliner.
Now that Burns is in a position to challenge one of the greatest UFC welterweight champions of all time he’s looking to impress on arrival. This includes testing his world-class grappling against Woodley’s elite wrestling and imposing physicality.
“I want to grapple with him, because he gets tired on the bottom,” said Burns in a recent interview with Combate. “He doesn’t like to be on the bottom and he defends takedowns well. I think that if I mix things up well – use my kicks, my boxing, use my hands fast and try to move around a lot – I’ll be able to score a takedown and bother him. I’m improving and I’ve been feeling more well-rounded and relaxed. Even if I don’t take him down, he’ll be on alert and it’ll be easier for me to land a kick or a punch. I want to mix things up and pressure him in the first and second rounds.”
“He reminds me of Michel Prazeres,” he continued. “Not because of his style, but physically. He’s a short, strong guy with more reach than me. It’s complicated, because when he’s within my reach, I’m within his. I have to change the levels and use my kicks, because my leg reach is longer. I’ve been studying his fights and he spares his gas a lot. He does something, then he stops and controls. I want to take advantage of that, get him tired in the first and second rounds. I think I’ll be able to get him down and scramble with him in the third and fourth rounds. Then I’ll be able to score good positions and maybe a submission. That’s how I see this playing out.”
While Burns began his professional MMA career on his grappling merits alone, the Brazilian fighter has been able to showcase some serious knockout power over the last few years. In fact, “Durinho” has scored three knockout wins to just one submission win since the start of 2017. That is proof that his skills are evolving and he is no longer relying on one aspect of fighting to win.
With his recent string of success on the feet Burns is confident enough to strike with a powerful puncher like Woodley. His bread and butter certainly remains on the ground, but Burns is aiming to connect with a fight-ending punch as well.
“He doesn’t like to move around. He starts and stops,” said Burns. “I want to make him move, even if that makes me suffer a little. If he sprawls and I try to grab a leg, I know he won’t recover that wasted energy. From then on, his hands won’t be so monstrously powerful in the next rounds. My goal is to grapple, but I think I can knock him out. It’s not even just about the chin, but a guy with a strong body and a steady stance is able to remain standing even while rocked. I don’t doubt that my hand will connect. I want to submit him because he has never been submitted before, but if I land, no man can take that. I will and he will sit down.”
Who do you have winning, Maniacs? Can Burns pull off the upset and position himself atop the UFC welterweight rankings?
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