Gilbert Burns says “it’s time to get this belt” as he prepares to fly to Abu Dhabi for a UFC title bout with Kamaru Usman on July 11. However having a teammate and pal on the opposite facet of the octagon makes it a bit weirder.
“Durinho” turned the No. 1 contender within the welterweight division after a dominant victory over Tyron Woodley in Could. Days earlier than signing the contract for UFC 251, he bumped into “The Nigerian Nightmare.”
“On Monday, proper after the UFC Las Vegas card that my brother fought at, I bumped into him within the gymnasium once I got here again,” Burns advised MMA Combating. “He stayed right here that week after which went to Colorado to complete his camp. We spoke, and it was all good. He stated, ‘Let’s battle, depart all of it within the octagon, after which we’ll have a beer collectively.’ It will likely be very skilled.
“I used to be stunned once I noticed him. However I used to be like, ‘Oh, he’s right here, cool, let’s have this discuss in the present day.’ It was even higher that he was there, truly. It was OK. I knew he would present up within the gymnasium, however I didn’t know when. It was a bit bizarre, nevertheless it was very gentle.”
Usman and Burns received’t share the identical gymnasium as they put together to battle for UFC gold, they usually’re okay with it. Durinho stated Henry Hooft, who coaches each fighters, is having a more durable time coping with it and determined to not “become involved” in both camp.
“He likes each of us and stated he received’t take any facet,” Burns stated of Hooft. “However I’m within the gymnasium and (Usman) went to a different gymnasium, so (Usman) has individuals working with him. I’m following my common coaching. It feels bizarre for me to ask Henry one thing. I’m coaching usually, however I’m giving Henry extra space, as a result of I do know it’s very private for him. … It’s not fully regular, as a result of I take advantage of Henry lots, however Kamaru makes use of Henry lots, too. So it’s form of the identical for each of us.”
Usman hasn’t misplaced a battle in additional than seven years, whereas Burns has appeared unbelievable since shifting again as much as welterweight. Even with their shut relationship, Durinho doesn’t assume it’s bizarre to cope with the same old pre-fight routine — together with pre-fight interviews the place he vows to complete his opponent.
“I’m going there to knock him out or submit him,” Burns stated. “That’s what I wish to do, however I believe it’s going to be a conflict. I believe Kamaru is harder than Woodley and Demian (Maia), my final two fights. I had an amazing efficiency, however Kamaru is a special particular person, and I believe it is going to be exhausting to both knock him out or submit him. That’s what I need within the battle, a end, however I believe it’s going to be an intense five-round conflict.”
UFC 251 goes down simply 337 days after Burns’ first battle again to the 170-pound weight class, a call win over 20-Zero Russian expertise Alexey Kunchenko. The meteoric rise amazes the jiu-jitsu ace, however attending to the highest of the MMA world has truly taken longer than he has as soon as predicted.
“To start with of my profession, I’ve all the time had plans, dates, the 12 months I needed to develop into champion, however issues occurred totally different and I acquired very pissed off,” Burns stated. “I ended l serious about dates. I knew I might develop into champion, I knew I might battle for the title, I knew I might headline a card. I knew it will occur someday, however I made a decision to loosen up and let issues occur. And it got here. I didn’t know when, however I all the time believed I might be the UFC champion.”
In his authentic plans, Burns thought he would have be holding the UFC gold round 2016 or 2017. However his first MMA loss, a call setback in opposition to Rashid Magomedov in 2015, modified every part.
“That battle, I bear in mind (then-UFC matchmaker) Joe Silva coming to me and saying I might enter the top-15 if I received,” Burns stated. “And I bear in mind considering, ‘Oh, I’ll win this battle and enter the top-15, after which I’ll have 4 extra fights and I’ll be the champion by the top of 2016 or starting of 2017.’ I had that in my thoughts, after which I had my first loss. I received one other one, after which I misplaced once more to ‘Trator’ (Michel Prazeres), so I needed to see that issues wouldn’t occur on my time.”
Burns needed to wait a little bit longer, nevertheless it feels proper to occur now.
UFC 251 is strictly one decade after Burns flew to United Arab Emirates to compete on the Abu Dhabi World Skilled Jiu-Jitsu Championship, a grappling match supported by Sheik Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Durinho beat the likes of Celso Vinicius and Claudio Caloquinha to seize a gold medal, a particular watch, and an $8,000 examine.
“Ten years later, let’s hold the streak going and win once more in Abu Dhabi,” he stated.