There are prospects and there are "what would happen if this guy ever fought in the UFC" prospects. Athletes who have already achieved a status and greatness in another sport, that beg to be showcased in MMA. That doesn't mean they'll always quite pan out, but fighters like Tyrone Spong, Roger Gracie, and many others get a special sort of status as excellent athletes with easily translatable skills. Burns is certainly an addition to that catagory, but unlike those men, he may have a much longer and brighter future in MMA. His signing was announced on Friday by MMA Fighting. He's currently targeting UFC on Fox 12 for a debut at welterweight, but expects to fight at lightweight in the future. No opponent has been announced at this time.
Who is Gilbert Burns?
The 2011 world Jiu Jitsu champion and 2010 no gi champion needs no introduction to some. He's been a major player on the grappling circuit for quite a while. But, "Durinho" is a fairly fresh product in MMA circles. Training out of the Blackzilians camp and more particularly with Vitor Belfort, Burns started his MMA career in 2012 and has gone undefeated at 7-0 since. What's more impressive is that in those 7 wins, not one has left the first round, with four coming by way of submission and three by KO/TKO. Throw in some strong competition in Paulo Teixeira, Paulo Goncalves Silva, and Vinicius Alves Bohrer, and the fact that Burns is still only 27 years old, and he has all the tools for a long and prosperous MMA career.
As an interesting aside, fans may remember Burns as the Blackzilians team member who had very little good to say about Alistair Overeem following his departure from the Blackzilians for Jackson's MMA. Burns went so far as to say that the entire Blackzilians team improved in "The Reem's" absence.
What you should expect:
At the moment, Gilbert Burns very much appears to be a fighter in the process of learning to strike. And I don't mean to say that he can't strike, or isn't very good at it, or that he defaults to his grappling. But, that it looks like he's got a solid grasp of the fundamentals of form and movement, and is working on advancing those fundamentals with his time in the cage. He does a lot of feinting at range, keeps his chin down and his hands high, uses his shoulder to protect himself. His footwork isn't excellent, and he doesn't have a nack for combination striking, or for working in volume, but he looks to be comfortable striking for significant periods of time without getting hit hard. The fact that he's even created a few knockouts suggests that he might have a bit of natural power to draw on as well.
His first few fights are almost entirely grappling based, as one might expect. And show that he has a strong clinch takedown game, predicated on trips, drags, and throws. He's shown flashes of timed shots, but mostly, if he gets a body lock, he'll get you to the mat. Once there he is excellent at maintaining dominant position and at chaining submissions with strikes on opponents. Really, he's a fantastic Jiu Jitsu artist, no question. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he's made it a point to use his recent cage time to work on his striking rather than his BJJ, whether he continues that trend in the UFC is another question entirely.
To get us better acquainted, here's a look at his recent bout against Paulo Goncalves Silva: