Top Ultimate Fighting Championship 170-pound
contender Gilbert
Burns
is watching his division very closely.

Burns intended on fighting at UFC 283
in Jan. 21, no matter the opponent. Luckily for him, the UFC also
intended on placing the fighter from Niteroi, Brazil, on that event
in Rio de Janeiro. Burns (20-5) was offered and accepted to face
off against multiple opponents in the upper echelon of his
division, and he finally found someone that would match his
“anyone, anywhere, anytime” mentality: Neil Magny.
At UFC Fight Night 214 in November, Magny (27-9) broke the
promotion’s welterweight record for the most wins with 20, passing
Georges St.
Pierre
.

“I understand that Neil was not the opponent most Brazilian fans
were expecting, but make no mistake, Magny is one of the most
experienced guys in the division,” Burns stated. “The ‘king of the
cardio’ will be another great challenge to me.”

The lower-ranked Magny, who is unranked on Sherdog and the no. 12
welterweight in the UFC, was not remotely the first choice for
“Durinho.” There were originally four options, and the first three
declined to face him.

“The no. 1 UFC option has always been [Jorge]
Masvidal
,” Burns said. “They offered him three different dates
in Las Vegas, New York and Brazil, and he declined [them] all.”

. According to Burns, the second plan was Belal
Muhammad
, who said no because of the timing.

“[Belal] was coming from a victory [over Sean Brady
in October], and didn’t want to fight in Brazil without a complete
camp, and UFC wanted me in Rio, so he was discarded,” the Brazilian
explained.

Burns revealed that before Magny came up, the possibility of a
rematch with Khamzat
Chimaev
was also cogitated.

“When [Chimaev] said he would accept to come to Rio, things started
to be serious,” said Burns, “but I think UFC had other plans for
him and didn’t want to throw a guy with such a giant hype in
another war. In my opinion, they want to put Chimaev straight for
the belt, so they came [to me] with Magny’s name.”

When discussing his former opponent Chimaev – a man he went three
back-and-forth rounds with in April – Burns said that the Chechen
might have a surprise if he continues underestimating Colby
Covington
, if the UFC indeed makes that fight.

“Unlike [what] many people may think, Covington is not a good
matchup for him,” Burns analyzed. “If the fight is five rounds, in
that case, I see Colby being smart enough to avoid his knockout
power [for] first two rounds, using his bigger gas tank and great
wrestling to win in the following rounds. But if the fight is only
three rounds, Chimaev might have [the] advantage.”

After Brazilian champions lost two major lightweight belts within a
month to Dagestani-based opponents, Burns suggested that it is
absolutely necessary for his countrymen to train more wrestling.
Charles
Oliveira
dropped his UFC belt to Islam
Makhachev
at UFC 280 on Oct. 22, while Patricky
Freire
fell short against Usman
Nurmagomedov
at Bellator 288 on Nov. 18.

“We have great wrestling coaches in Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and
Natal,” Burns noted. “If the guy is an MMA fighter and still
[doesn’t] have money to get a flight to USA or Russia, get a bus to
some of those three cities. No doubt we have great striking and
ground coaches in Brazil, but to fight at the highest level, [it]
is absolutely essential to know wrestling.”

In Brasilia, the Cerrado MMA camp has bolstered its growing roster
that includes a few recent signees in Ismael
Bonfim
and brother Gabriel
Bonfim
, with powerful Cuban-born wrestlers. Nova Uniao in Rio
de Janeiro celebrates both Antoine
Jaoude
and Daniel Pirata to boost the wrestling chops of those
around. Additionally, the Pitbull Brothers gym in Natal regularly
involves Eric Albarracin, when he is not training competitors at
Fight Ready in Arizona. Plenty of Brazilian talents around the
country are improving their wrestling chops on a regular basis, and
this has led to additional skilled wrestlers plying their trade in
the South American nation. One 26-year-old American has caught
Burns’ eye as of late.

“People are just talking about Bo Nickal,
Myles Martin already beat Nickal a couple of times and this guy is
training with us. I embraced him here. This guy is on another
level. Keep an eye on him,” “Durinho” concluded.





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Gilbert Burns Discusses UFC 283 Options, Surveys Welterweight Landscape