Reigning UFC welterweight champion, Kamaru ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ Usman, will have another opportunity to stand opposite, streaking contender, Gilbert ‘Durinho’ Burns. On December 12th. at UFC 256 – a title pairing between the two has been earmarked by the promotion.

Usman and Burns were originally pencilled in as the curtain-closing act at UFC 251 on ‘Fight Island’ in July – until the Brazilian was forced from the pairing, having contracted the novel coronavirus ahead of his trip to Abu Dhabi. UAE. 

Usman would go on to face current BMF titleholder, Jorge ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal in a short-notice championship clash, scoring a relatively comfortable one-sided unanimous decision victory.

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Sanford MMA teammate, Burns last featured at UFC Fight Night Vegas in May – taking a decision shutout victory over the returning former division champion, Tyron Woodley – earning his shot at welterweight gold. News of the targeted matchup was first reported by TMZ Sports.

Attempting his third successful title defence, Usman has already bested former American Top team training partners, Masvidal, and Colby Covington – the latter at UFC 245 last December in a final-frame knockout retention. 

Usman initially claimed Octagon gold at UFC 235 in March of last year, dislodging common foe, Woodley with a wrestling heavy unanimous decision win. With Usman and Burns both plying their trade in the ‘Sunshine State’ alongside Henri Hooft – the renowned striking coach elected against preparing either fighter ahead of the expected July matchup. Usman would go onto hone his skills with mastermind head coach, Trevor Wittmann instead. 

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Since his return to 170-pounds back in August of last year, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace, Burns has managed victories over the then unblemished, Alexey Kunchenko, before scoring a decision win over Icelandic grappler, Gunnar Nelson – and a stunning first-round knockout of compatriot, Demian Maia at UFC Fight Night Brasília in March.

The owner of six knockout wins and eight separate submission successes – Burns has shown a real eye for his striking as of late, dropping Woodley on the feet and pressing him back to the Octagon fence with combinations. The Rio De Janeiro native is a two-time No-Gi world champion and took a world Jiu-Jitsu championship in 2011 to boot.

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If the matchup comes to fruition, Burns will join compatriot, Amanda Nunes on the card – who defends her featherweight throne for a second time, when she clashes with former Invicta FC titleholder, Aussie striker, Megan Anderson.  

Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.