Former UFC welterweight title challenger Gilbert Burns is eager to recover from his unsuccessful try at Kamaru Usman’s belt in his last outing. Just a few months after coming up short against the champion, ‘Durinho’ is now matched up against one of the division’s most refined strikers in Stephen Thompson, in an intriguing battle of styles.
However, in an interview with Ag Fight, Burns emphasized that jiu-jitsu is not all that fans can expect from him against ‘Wonderboy’. Despite having lost to Usman via TKO, Gilbert promises he will show a more evolved version of himself against Thompson, with a skillset Durinho intends to use to surprise his opponent in the Octagon.
“We have pretty different styles,” Burns said. “It’s been a long time since he has fought someone like me or guys that can fight like me. I think the last one was Anthony Pettis, but he kicks a lot more than I do and he can’t wrestle like me. The one closest to me would be Woodley, with good takedowns and heavy hands. Because I’ve been fighting at lightweight for a long time, I think I have an edge over those guys in speed. I’ve never fought a striker that moves like him. He’s a danger to me, but I’m a danger to him, too. I’ve been sharpening all my tools. I’ve been training in order to have many weapons at my disposal. There’s some good stuff coming.”
Having lost the title fight to Usman, Burns emphasizes how much he has learned from it. Now, not only does Durinho promise a more intelligent version of himself against Wonderboy, but the 34-year-old also vows to show his ability to change his gameplan between rounds.
“I made some mistakes (in the Usman fight), but it’s my style,” Burns said. “I go in there to finish the fight. It’s kill or be killed. A lot of people won’t try it, but I will. I learned a lot. I was able to learn a lot about myself, how I deal with pressure. Some technical mistakes and mistakes in my gameplan, too. I’m still evolving and I think I’ll be able to show a lot of it against Wonderboy. I think people will be able to notice it, yes. They can expect a more aggressive Durinho, more mature and bit more strategical.”
Before his loss to Usman in February, Burns (19-4) was on a six-fight winning streak, with wins over Olivier Aubin-Mercier, Mike Davis, Alexey Kunchenko, Gunnar Nelson, Demian Maia and most recently, in May 2020, former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.
Now, Durinho is expected to take on Thompson at UFC 264, on July 10, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card is scheduled to be headlined by a lightweight rubber match between former double champion Conor McGregor and ex-interim lightweight title-holder Dustin Poirier.