Gilbert Burns believes the welterweight division has become stagnant, just like the lightweight division was when Conor McGregor was the champion.
When that was happening, Burns had a hard time getting fights or ranked opponents. So, in 2019 he decided to move up to welterweight. Immediately, he got two short-notice fights against Alexey Kunchenko and Gunnar Nelson, and he won both. But, now with a number beside his name, he feels it is hard to get fights at 170 pounds.
“The welterweight division is a little crazy and stagnant. I went up to welterweight because lightweight was like that with Conor holding it up and the top not fighting,” Burns told BJPENN.com. “Welterweight I have Vicente Luque who is one of my best friends then I have my training partners Kamaru Usman, Robbie Lawler. Then we have guys who are not active like Nate Diaz, Anthony Pettis, Tyron Woodley. So, yes it was hard to try and get a fight.
“I had been calling everyone out. Called Ben Askren out, he retired,” he continued. “Called Pettis out, he went to 155 then they offered Maia and I accepted and he didn’t want to take the fight at first. I wanted Magny and he took another fight, so it has been hard getting a fight.”
Having three training partners in the top-15 including one being the champion limits his options. But Burns knows how crucial that is to work with Usman, Lawler, and Luque to get better every day.
Even though it has been hard getting fights at welterweight, Burns believes this is his division and a move back to lightweight is not in the cards.
“Yeah not right now. I feel really good and I don’t want to feel miserable dieting, running all the time to make lightweight,” he explained. “I want to stay active, I’m 33, I have five good years and I want to stay busy. That’s why I did a lot of grappling. Right now it is time to fight.
Do you agree with Gilbert Burns that welterweight has become stagnant?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 1/10/2020.