The landscape of the UFC welterweight division took a drastic turn after number one contender Gilbert Burns tested positive for COVID-19 and, thus, was withdrawn from the main event at UFC 251. Fortunately for fans, the organisation was able to reach a financial agreement with Jorge Masvidal, who will now be fighting for the title as a late replacement against Kamaru Usman.
Burns commented on Masvidal taking the short notice title bout and stated why he is rooting for ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’. According to ‘Durinho’, he hopes for a successful defence not only because of the good relationship he has with Usman but also for the sake of the division. According to the Brazilian, the race for the title among contenders will be replaced by money fights that disregard rankings, should ‘Gamebred’ get the victory.
Burns spoke to ESPN (as transcribed by MMA Fighting) about how he views the upcoming UFC 251 main event.
“I want Kamaru to win,” Burns said. “First of all, because I kind of like the guy. He’s not anymore, but he used to be my training partner, so for sure I got Kamaru. And if Masvidal wins, the things are gonna get crazy. It’s going to be a circus in that division. He’s going to fight who else, I don’t know, I think he wants to fight Conor [McGregor] or maybe Nate Diaz. I don’t think the division is going to run correctly, with the number one, number two guys fighting for the title. He’s going to make it a mess, so that’s another reason I want Kamaru to win.”
After an impressive string of victories over the likes of Gunnar Nelson, Damian Maia, and Tyron Woodley, Burns has proved himself worthy of a shot at UFC gold. Nonetheless, ‘Durinho’ believes that a Masvidal win may bring his title plans to a halt.
“I know if Masvidal wins, things are gonna get crazy,” Burns said. “I might have to do a couple more fights. I don’t mind but for sure I’d rather fight for the title next.”
Burns also commented on Nate Diaz’s most recent declarations regarding the change in the lineup at UFC 251, where the Stockton-born tweeted “Real fights are better fights”.
“He’s a journeyman,” Burns said of Diaz. “I think I can beat the s*** out of Nate Diaz any day of the week, even with the ‘rona on me. Even with the ‘rona, I believe I can beat Nate Diaz, out-box him, out-grapple him. I can slap that guy up easily. The guy comes out and does those comments, I’m a real fighter too, bro. I used to respect this guy a lot but I’m a real fighter too.”
Despite a possible change of plans in his future, Burns remains motivated to keep competing, even if his next fight is not for the title. ‘Durinho’ aims at staying active and earning his way back to the top if the UFC looks past him for a title shot next.
“I don’t mind to fight more” Burns concluded. “Like I said, if Masvidal wins and then he picks Nate, let’s say he picks Nate for the end of the year, I don’t care. I’m gonna fight. I’m a fighter. I’m not gonna be hiding out, waiting, ‘Oh, please give me the opportunity.’ I’m going to take the opportunity.”
Burns has certainly been one of the most successful welterweights in recent times and, although Usman vs Masvidal will be nothing short of spectacular, the Brazilian has undeniably earned a title shot. With so many top-level athletes in the division, the UFC is sure to put on thrilling welterweight bouts in the near future.
Would you like to see Gilbert Burns challenge for the title after his recovery?