Perhaps the most highly-anticipated fight at UFC 273 this weekend (Sat., April 9, 2022) is the one without a title on the line.
Headlined by Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski defending against “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung along with a Bantamweight title rematch between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan, a lot of UFC 273’s spotlight has been focused on Khamzat Chimaev.
The Chechen has been literally flawless in his first four UFC outings, finishing all opponents without barely even being touched. Standing in his way next is undeniably his stiffest test, former Welterweight title challenger, Gilbert Burns.
For the 35-year-old Burns, he’s fought and competed against several of the sports’ absolute best in mixed martial arts (MMA), as well as grappling where he holds a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Sure, Chimaev has plenty of hype, but it’s not blinding Burns from the man who stands before him.
“[He’s] Nothing special. I think his wrestling is very good,” Burns said at UFC 273 media day (h/t MMA Junkie). “His control, his ground-and-pound is good. And the fact that he’s very long helps, too, so he gets good grips, good control, knows where to put the weight. Very technical, hits hard. But the opponents didn’t do too well. Those guys don’t know how to get up. The other ones don’t know how to wrestle. I don’t even know, I got to look at it to watch it, but his first two UFC opponents, do you know their name? Anyone? No one knows. For sure, they’re pretty tough to be in the UFC, but they’re not Gilbert Burns. They’re not in the top of the division. So, all due respect, sorry for you if you were one of these guys, no offense, but I’m in the top of the division, you know?
“I give this guy the opportunity. I want to fight him because I believe he’s very good, but I don’t see a monster, I see a human being,” Burns continued. “Confident, a little bit cocky, undefeated, thinks he’s the best, untouchable – but we shall see. We shall see Saturday.
Since moving up to Welterweight in Aug. 2019, Burns (20-4) has continually proved doubters wrong as the underdog on multiple occasions. “Durinho” is 5-1 in his last six with his lone loss coming against current champion, Kamaru Usman.
“This guy is very tough, but we’re gonna test and see if this guy is real or not,” Burns said of Chimaev. “I’m here. I’m the guy to test this guy, to stop the hype train. So, I like it. I’m here in this position. I asked to be here. I want to fight the best guys. If he’s one of those, if he’s that beast, that’s the guy I want to fight.”
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