Gilbert Burns will be the next fighter in line to try to derail the growing hype train that is Khamzat Chimaev. The two welterweights will collide at UFC 273 this coming April.
While Burns is a former UFC title challenger who is regarded as one of the very best 170-pound fighters in the world today he’s still being looked at as an underdog in his matchup with Chimaev. It’s a testament to how good Chimaev has looked inside of the Octagon and how many people believe he’s a future champion of the division.
That said, Burns is as well-rounded as they come and he’s going to present Chimaev with more problems to solve than he ever has been. This includes a world-class ground game and knockout power that has shined time and time again inside of the Octagon.
“I see it going very hard,” Burns said in an interview with Helen Yee. “Especially in the beginning, he might be very strong. I do believe he’s gonna strike a little bit, but I do believe he’s gonna grapple too. He’s gonna try and take me down, wrestle, stay heavy on top, good ground-and-pound, and that’s what I think he’s gonna do.
“I think I’ll have a lot of answers to the game, takedown defense, getting up, a lot of striking too. I see a war. I don’t think it’s gonna be easy for me. I don’t think it’ll be easy for him. I think we’re gonna grind down, and it’s gonna be – I see my arms getting raised, but I think it’s gonna be a war.”
It’s a massive fight for both fighters. For Chimaev, it’s his opportunity to finally beat a top 10 opponent and prove that he is as good as advertised. For Burns, it’s his chance to prove that he’s still a legitimate title threat and capable of fending off the best contenders the division has to offer.
Making things more interesting is the fact that UFC president Dana White declared Burns vs. Chimaev a No. 1 contender’s fight. Burns already lost to current UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman back at UFC 258 so he’s taking White’s word with a grain of salt, but if he can destroy Chimaev and end the hype it would be hard not to grant Burns another shot at the belt.
“Yeah, but Dana also said that women will never fight in MMA (UFC),” said Burns. “I respect that when you have one opinion, but later on you change it. He can change it. We will see. I think everything is about the performance. I gotta go there and get a finish and then I can have a title shot, but it’s all about the performance nowadays. If the fight ends up being boring or ends up being not what people expect, for sure we’ve got to do one more fight.”
What do you think, Maniacs? Will Burns vs. Chimaev be a war? Who wins?