Gilbert Burns pulled out all the stops for his co-main event clash with Jorge Masvidal later tonight (Sat., April 8, 2023) at UFC 287 live on ESPN+ PPV from inside Miami-Dade Arena in Miami, Fla., and that includes hiring scouts to pick his own game apart and show him his flaws.
Burns, who is coming off an impressive win over Neil Magny this past January, is hoping to parlay a victory over “Gamebred” at UFC 287 into his second welterweight title shot. Masvidal has been struggling of late, but Burns will certainly have his work cut out for him. After all, Masvidal is fighting in his own backyard and seems more dedicated to this fight than most of his other recent bouts.
In order to give himself the best chance possible to win Burns has once again called upon the expertise of MMA scout and striking coach, Daniel Mendes.
“He sends me a lot of numbers, especially for a guy like Masvidal who has 51 fights. There’s a lot of tape for him to watch,” Burns said. “There are many habits he won’t change. He can get better here or there, he can change something here, but he won’t change everything completely overnight, so you can see his tendencies.
“You can see how he defends takedowns. Demian [Maia] took him down this way, Colby [Covington] took him down that way, Kamaru [Usman] took him down like this. But those three guys are on another level. Most people tried and couldn’t take him down. Michael Chiesa shot well for a takedown but ended up on bottom and got submitted. It’s good to have those numbers and those tendencies, you know? Like, ‘He does this well, so I won’t waste any energy there.’ That helps in the strategy.”
Burns utilized Mendes for his fight against Magny earlier this year and the result speaks for itself. “Durinho” more or less dominated Magny en route to a first-round submission finish. It proves that Mendes’ work is paying off, but Burns acknowledges his methods aren’t for everyone. Most fighters wouldn’t be able to check their ego at the door in order to have an outsider tell them what’s wrong with their performances, and then positively build off of that.
“We’re working on changing that because I have many tendencies as well,” Burns said, laughing. “Daniel really does great scouting, and I was shocked. I did so many things wrong. He has a study of the Neil Magny fight and I did five things wrong during that fight, before we went to the ground. I didn’t notice that — and we only strayed on the feet for a minute and a half.”
“I liked this evolution, it makes you know yourself and change bad habits to get better, but it’s not for everyone,” he continued. “Some people don’t have their ego under control for that, instead of saying, ‘Wow, I’m doing all that [wrong]? I’ll start working now.’ Daniel did that with me, and there’s the pre-Khamzat and post-Khamzat ‘Durinho,’ and people will start to feel the difference now in terms of defense and movement now.”
With all of his preparation in check Burns is hoping to turn in a memorable performance against Masvidal at UFC 287. The veteran contender knows “Gamebred” isn’t a walk in the park, but Burns believes his grappling and late-round striking will ultimately prevail.
“I think the best path is taking him down and working on ground-and-pound and submissions,” he said, “but knowing he has good takedown defense, I’ve worked on some attacks. And there’s plan B. In case he survives, he will be tired and his reflexes his diminish. If I can’t execute what I want, that will mean he’s done a great job, and doing that great job takes a toll on you. Second and third rounds, I think I’ll see a lot of openings on the feet, the fight becomes less dangerous [on the feet].”
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