Gilbert Burns knew he would become just the second person ever to finish Demian Maia but he expected to do it by submission.
In the co-main event of UFC Brasilia, Burns was battling Maia in a very important welterweight clash. There, he was fighting in front of no fans which he admits was quite hard to deal with.
“That was weird, it was not close to a gym session or a fight. The thing that made me nervous was that everything was quiet. I had a huge wait from the warmup area to the Octagon, it was dark and quiet and super weird,” Burns said to BJPENN.com. “The guy let me go and my music went and there was silence. It was awkward and super weird. But, I am proud of myself as I did what I was supposed to do.”
Before the fight began, while Burns was warming up, his coaches told him his left hook is as sharp as ever and they knew that would be the knockout punch.
“The distance was hard. He faints awkward and he’s hard to hit. But, I visualized the left hook and I worked on a lot on that,” he said. “My coaches told me I’m going to land the hook and it will drop him and that is exactly what happened.”
He ended up dropping Maia with the left hook and celebrated like the fight was over. But, the ref decided to not stop it so Gilbert Burns had to follow up with ground and pound and earn the TKO win.
For Burns, to finish Maia and become just the second person ever to do so was surreal.
“That was special. Demian is a legend, he has fought the greatest and fought the best several times. He’s only ever been finished once so it put me in a good place in the division,” Burns explained. “It was special finishing Demian in Brazil in the first round. He took me down, got my back but I got back on my feet and knocked him out.”
Although he got the finish Burns is upset the ref didn’t stop the fight as he didn’t want to land any follow-up punches on Maia.
“I wish he stopped it because he was hurt. The arena was silent and I heard his head slam off the canvas hard, like boom,” Burns explained. “I thought that it was over but the ref let it keep ongoing. I felt bad because I like Demian a lot but I wish the ref would’ve stopped it.”
In the end, Gilbert Burns knows he is dangerous at welterweight and says he is proof that cutting an extreme amount of weight doesn’t work.
“The weight cut was crazy. Back then, I was a welterweight but I was cutting way too much weight because everyone was doing it. It got to the point that it wasn’t healthy,” he concluded. “I beat two very though guys on short notice and the first camp I have at 170 I finish the number five guy in two minutes.”
Were you surprised Gilbert Burns knocked out Demian Maia?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 3/24/2020.