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Gilbert Burns: Kamaru Usman fight was ‘way different’ than our sparring sessions

Gilbert Burns explains the difference between sparring and the real thing.

UFC 258: Usman v Burns Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

200-plus rounds of sparring didn’t prepare Gilbert Burns for Kamaru Usman at UFC 258, with ‘Durinho’ opening up about how their previous sparring sessions at Sanford MMA differed from the real thing on fight night.

Burns, who used to train with Usman in Florida before the latter relocated to Colorado to train under Trevor Wittman, said he was surprised by how well ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’s’ chin held up in the first round after being blasted with some of his best strikes.

“I was surprised with his chin, because I hit him with everything,” Burns told MMA Junkie’s John Morgan following his third-round TKO loss to the reigning UFC welterweight champion (h/t BJPenn.com). “Even when I fell on the floor, that was [a slip from] a high kick. That was my shin on his head and I felt that one was clear. I knew a lot of things [about him], but I didn’t know his game plan and he didn’t know my game plan.”

Burns went on to add that the two had never sparred at full capacity with no protective equipment and that that made for a huge contrast in how they approached their title bout, with both men throwing at ‘100 percent’ last weekend.

“For sure [our previous training] helped a lot in preparation, but when it comes to the fight, I’m going to be throwing 100 percent, and him too, so we’ve got to watch out for each other,” Burns continued. “I think it played a little bit because we know each other a lot, but we had never sparred 100 percent with small gloves, with no shin pads, no knee pads. This was way different than our training sessions”.

Burns appears to be taking the loss well and acknowledges that he got a bit reckless after hurting Usman in the opening round. The Brazilian is still ranked in the top-three but is no longer considered the No. 1 welterweight contender in the world.

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