Former UFC title challenger Gilbert Burns is the next man in line to try and derail the Khamzat Chimaev hype. The two men will face each other at the main card of UFC 273 next month.
It could be the toughest test of Chimaev’s career, and likewise, it would not be a walk in the park for Burns. And for his part, “Durinho” is making changes to his preparation. Burns talked about some of it during his recent guesting on MMAFighting.com’s Trocação Franca podcast.
“I had to hire two wrestlers, two very tough Russians who are helping me daily,” he said in Portuguese. “They asked to keep their names a secret, and I had to [agree] because they are showing me a lot of stuff, changing a lot of stuff in my game.
“I always liked single-leg [takedowns], double-leg, body lock, but the Russians have different details, unique grips. You’d think they are super strong, but they aren’t. They are strong, but their technique is great.
“There’s a lot of technique with the hip, waist, control. They are ahead of the United States [in that aspect]. I’ve learned a lot in this camp. And you can’t just learn the defense, you have to attack as well so you feel it and develop your defensive skills.”
Burns says he understands the request for anonymity as he was also in a similar situation when Michael Chandler fought fellow Brazilian Charles Oliveira at UFC 262 last year.
“I believe there’s more to it, they haven’t told me, but they’ve asked to remain in secrecy, and I understand them,” he said. “It’s kind of an annoying situation. I was in a similar situation when I helped Michael Chandler a lot to fight Charles [Oliveira].
“I went there with Chandler, helped him in his entire camp, I was rooting for the guy. Of course, I was happy for Charles, but I was in such an awful situation. They are avoiding this situation by coming anonymously.”
Chimaev has been getting a lot of push since the stellar performances he began putting on in 2020, the same year of his UFC debut. And Burns understands why that is and he believes a win could land him another crack at welterweight gold.
“Dana White and the UFC are promoting this kid a lot,” he said. “The things they say, ‘This kid is a killer and no one wants to fight him,’ that helps a lot. But [I’m] not taking anything away from the kid, I think he’s good as hell and very promising. I think he’s tough.
“If he wins in a fight where he’s knocked down or almost submitted, but in the end he wins, he’ll have to fight one more. If I beat him but get knocked down before getting a submission, we’ll have to fight one more.
“A lot can happen, so my first focus is here, training hard, and getting there to put on my best performance, so I’ll have all the cards on the table to try for the belt again.”
UFC 273 takes place on April 9 in Jacksonville, Florida. The event features two title fights: a bantamweight rematch between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan at the co-main event and the featherweight championship between Alexander Volkanovski and “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung.