Gilbert Burns may have had his first UFC title shot ripped away due to COVID-19, but the streaking welterweight contender is already cemented as the next guy in line.
This is according to UFC president Dana White, who sat down with media members for a quick scrum (replay HERE) in advance to UFC 251 this weekend on “Fight Island.” Burns was expected to fight reigning UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman as part of UFC 251’s main event, but was replaced by Jorge Masvidal after testing positive for coronavirus last weekend.
“He’s the No. 1 contender,” White said of Burns. “He’s the No. 1 ranked guy in the world. Yeah – he’s the No. 1 guy in the world. The kid is hungry. He wants to fight. He wants to be a world champion – and he’s No. 1. Yeah, that puts him in a pretty good spot.”
Burns, 33, has become one of the best welterweight fighters in the world since returning to the division just short of one year ago. The Brazilian fighter has gone 4-0 since then with keys victories over former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and MMA legend Demian Maia. With an overall UFC record of 12-3 there was little doubt that “Durinho” deserved a shot at Usman.
Burns offered a simple reaction after learning of White’s plans to still offer him the next welterweight title shot.
“Let’s go,” wrote Burns via social media.
All of that said, things change quickly when it comes to UFC title shots, especially during a global pandemic. White has promised title shots in the past only to go back on his word for a sexier and more lucrative matchup. Burns has become one of the most exciting fighters on the roster over the past 12 months, but he isn’t a massive star compared to some other options. All fight fans can do is wait and see how the 170-pound title picture plays out.
UFC 251 will go down tomorrow night (Sat., July 11, 2020) live on ESPN+ PPV from Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, and will feature two additional title fights other than Usman vs Masvidal.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 251 fight card this weekend RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the ESPN portion at 8 p.m. before the PPV main card start time on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET.
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