Gilbert Burns is expecting a war against Kamaru Usman.
On Tuesday, it was announced that Burns would be next in line to challenge Usman for the welterweight title as they will headline UFC 251 taking place July 11 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
And although things are a bit awkward, especially as they share many of the same coaches, there are no hard feelings between the pair according to Burns. At least for now.
“It’s awkward. I just ran into him right now in training,” Burns told The Athletic on Monday. “He told me the same thing I said to him. He said, “Hey, I love you too, bro. Whatever happens, happens, you know. He said, “I love you too, bro. I know you have your family, I respect you, whatever happens, happens, nothing will change. Let’s leave it all up there.” I said, “You got it.” But, as of now, there’s nothing certain, so it was even a conversation — we say that stuff, and then don’t fight, you know? Then it’s an awkward thing (laughs).”
Burns: Usman Has More Tools Than Woodley
Burns became next in line following his impressive unanimous decision win over Tyron Woodley earlier this month at UFC Vegas. It put him on a four-fight winning streak ever since he made the move back up to 170 in August last year.
While he regarded the former champion as a monster, “Durinho” believes Usman will be an even tougher task not only because of his skillset, but also considering how their training sessions together have always been wars.
“He’s extremely tough. It will be a war,” Burns said. “All of our training sessions are wars. There’s none of that, “I won in training, he won in training.” Sure, but it’s war. I’ve never had easy training with him. He’s very skilled. He’s been improving a lot on the feet. He does the same system I do, which is Henry’s. He never lost his wrestling, he’s always trained wrestling a lot. He trains jiu-jitsu. He’s extremely strong. Has a good gas tank. Man — it will be a war.
“In my mind, that’s another monster. I had Woodley very much like a monster. When I fight, I like to be prepared for a monster. And it ended up that, after the third, fourth round — (Woodley) is still dangerous with that hand, but I didn’t feel that strength on the clinch, I didn’t feel danger with the kicks, it was mostly about being aware of his right hand. But I know Kamaru has a lot more stamina and a lot more tools. It’s an entirely different fight. Kamaru won’t have that rock in his right hand, but he will also hit hard. If he lands in the right spot, he can have me sitting down, too. I will have to be prepared for war.”
If Burns does go on to win the welterweight title against Usman, it would be one heck of a past 12 months for the Brazilian.
How do you see Usman vs. Burns playing out?