Gilbert Burns had a terrific opening round on his title fight at UFC 258, hurting Kamaru Usman multiple times and even knocking him down early. The champion though, showcased his veteran savvy, staying composed and adjusting until he eventually found a way to land his own shots to successfully defend his title.
It was a heartbreaking loss for Burns, who said the difference in the contest is how Usman remained calm, while he got “overexcited.” He compared his costly mistake to former champion Cody Garbrandt’s during his tough losses.
“I got overexcited. I went (like) my guy, Cody Garbrandt crazy as soon as I hurt him,” Burns said, breaking down his title bout at the UFC 258 post-fight press conference. “That’s the second time. I think I made the same mistake when I fought Dan Hooker. To become a champion, I cannot make those mistakes.
“I know I can hit any one of these guys, but in order to become a champion, I have to be disciplined,” Burns said. “I went in like my guy. I have so much respect for my guy Cody Garbrandt, (but) I just went the same way. As soon as I saw he was hurt, forget about the strategy. I just went for the kill.
“(Usman) stayed disciplined,” Burns said. “He’s not quick. He doesn’t hit that hard. But he’s friggin’ disciplined, that’s why he’s the champion. And for me, it was the opposite. I got overexcited, loaded up on my punches, and that was my mistake.”
Usman adjusted in the following rounds, landing stiff jabs that eventually turned the tide. Burns said that’s also a result of him not moving or defending well already as he was too eager to get a finish.
“I wanted to finish him, and that’s natural for me, but I should be a little bit more relaxed. Keeping that strategy and keep doing what I know how to do,” he said. “I was loading up too much. If I keep moving my head like I was doing, if I was light on my feet, he doesn’t land (that jab) on me. I stopped moving, stopped being light on my feet, and I paid the price.”
Burns’ loss snapped an impressive six fight winning streak, which saw wins over Tyron Woodley, Demian Maia and Gunnar Nelson among others.