Two former lightweights who have quickly become UFC welterweight contenders now want to fight each other.
Gilbert Burns, fresh off a fantastic knockout win over Demian Maia at UFC Brasilia, didn’t get the short notice Tyron Woodley fight as hoped, but he’s still angling for this first ever main event spot. The opponent he has in mind is Michael Chiesa, and as the two men relayed on Twitter (along with well wishes for each other during this coronavirus pandemic), they’re down to scrap in a five-rounder.
My guy @MikeMav22 stay safe! All this numbers 5 and above don’t want anything with me and you I agree that might be the next for us! I’m in for a main event after all this craziness! Let’s do it BURNS X CHIESA @danawhite @seanshelby @ufc @AliAbdelaziz00 @TheSchmo312 https://t.co/TQkJ89Kg0V— GILBERT BURNS DURINHO (@GilbertDurinho) March 23, 2020
You stay safe as well brother, BURNS X CHIESA is the main event the people need when this coronavirus ends. It would be an honor. Then we can finally train together after! Ossss https://t.co/Nkf9V7N9AS— Michael Chiesa (@MikeMav22) March 23, 2020
Chiesa (17-4) is a perfect 3-0 at welterweight, submitting former interim champion Carlos Condit and getting well-earned decisions over Diego Sanchez and former lightweight king Rafael dos Anjos. His last loss came against Anthony Pettis in a fight that saw Chiesa miss the lightweight limit, which prompted that much-needed move up to 170 lbs.
Burns (18-3) has won five in a row with three coming at welterweight. The jiu-jitsu standout bested Alexey Kunchenko last August, dominated Gunnar Nelson shortly thereafter, and his aforementioned TKO of Demian Maia marked just the second time that anyone has finished Maia in an MMA fight.
I know right now that fight bookings aren’t exactly high priority given the looming uncertainty of the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak and its long-term impact on sporting events, but we are fight fans and fantasizing about possible bouts is what we love to do. Burns and Chiesa are both ranked in the UFC’s top-ten and are legitimate title hopefuls at their current pace. They’re both known for their grappling, Burns certainly has the striking and power advantage, but Chiesa is extremely tough and is never in a boring fight.
This seems like a logical and compelling showdown if it gets made, and it’s very much deserving of main event (read: five-round) status.