Gilbert Burn is no stranger to Kamaru Usman. But neither is the champion’s likely next challenger, Leon Edwards.
Former teammates, Burns challenged Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight kingpin Usman in Feb. 2021. Performing well early on and even staggering Usman on the feet, Burns succumbed to a quick rally from “The Nigerian Nightmare” who earned a technical knockout victory in the third round (watch highlights).
Adding two big-time title defenses to his resume since then, Usman now appears headed for a rematch with the aforementioned Edwards who Burns sees as the champion’s toughest test among the current contenders.
“I’m telling you right now, Leon Edwards is very underrated,” Burns told Food Truck Diaries (h/t MMA Junkie). “That guy is very good. Just think about it: a striker, long and a southpaw. That’s already tough, and that guy has a great team.
“I know Kamaru pretty well, but that fight is gonna be close,” he continued. “That fight is gonna be close, and I think if you got these three guys, me in my opinion, Colby [Covington], Khamzat [Chimaev], and Leon, Leon has the best chance to beat Usman.”
Like Usman, it’s been quite a long time since Edwards (19-3, 1 no-contest) has tasted defeat. Coincidentally enough, that last setback came in the first Usman fight that saw him on the wrong end of a unanimous decision in Dec. 2015.
The hope right now is for the rematch to take place in August at UFC 278 but the champion is currently still healing from a recent hand surgery.
“I think because he’s a striker, and he can grapple, and he can wrestle,” Burns explained regarding Edwards’ chances. “Very long. These other guys are wrestlers. They can strike, don’t get me wrong. Both guys (Covington, and Chimaev) can strike, but they are wrestlers. That guy (Edwards) is a striker.
“I think out of these three guys, Leon has more chance to beat Kamaru, and I think that fight is gonna be close,” he concluded. “Kamaru is very smart. He’s been there a couple of times. I think he’s gonna take the fight very serious, but if he doesn’t, it’s a mistake. It’s a rematch, now fighting for the title. That guy’s been waiting for the opportunity.”
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