Gilbert Burns is now 2-0 since returning to the UFC welterweight division.
First, the former lightweight contender took a short notice welterweight bout against undefeated Alexey Kunchenko and handed him his first loss. A month and a half later, he took another short-notice fight, this time against fellow grappler Gunnar Nelson. He once again got his hand raised.
For Burns, this win is huge for his career and legacy.
“I had to improve a lot as a fighter, had a very smart game plan, and [it] was a big win. It was the biggest win of my career,” Burns said to BJPENN.com. “I had to adjust a lot in the fight and by the end of it, I had him frustrated and almost had him with the flying knee and arm triangle. It was for sure the biggest fight of my career, a huge win.”
After the fight, Burns had called out Neil Magny. He hopes to fight the American later this year. The callout made sense as Magny is ranked 15th and doesn’t have a fight booked. So, after two impressive performances, ‘Durinho’ hopes that fight does indeed happen.
“I hope so. I don’t how things are going with USADA, I hope he can be cleared, I think he is. That fight makes sense, I hope it happens,” Burns explained. “He hasn’t fought for a while and I’m doing good at 170, my record in the UFC is 3-0 at welterweight. Fans are liking me so hell yeah I want that fight.”
Although he called for Neil Magny, Burns just wants a ranked opponent next. That even includes stepping up on short notice at middleweight, too.
“For sure I would fight at middleweight. I wouldn’t cut any weight, I walk around 185, so no weight cut,” he said. “Fight like I train. I would fight at middleweight.”
Gilbert Burns isn’t sure if he’ll return to the lightweight division. There are a plethora of big fights for him in his former weight class, yet for right now, he is committed to fighting at 170 pounds.
“I might, I don’t think right now. It doesn’t make any sense, the weight cut was hard. Right now, it doesn’t make sense, I feel good at 170, can make it on short notice,” Burns said. “If the opportunity, like a great opportunity to fight at 155 then for sure I’d drop. But, for right now, I don’t want to. I want to establish my name at 170 and climb the ranks. It is an easy weight cut, feel strong, so much energy and no drama. Having fun with the coach during fight week and just enjoying fight week.”
In the end, Burns is happy with his win over Nelson and hopes to build off of that again this year.
He has to go help corner some teammates in the near future, but has told the UFC when he is in town for an event, he’s willing to step in if a replacement fighter is needed.
“I’m already talking to my manager about fights. I have to take this week off, my coaches are making me. I’m going to rest this week, next week I’m back in training. There is no way I’m not training. I’m also a good teammate. I help my teammates so I’ll be in Singapore with Michael Johnson, and guess what, if something happens, I can make the weight quick,” Burns concluded. “After that, I’ll be in New York for Vicente Luque, and guess what, I’ll be ready again. If something happens I’ll jump in. I hope I get a date, if I don’t get a date, I know injuries happen so I’ll be ready to jump in again.”
Who do you think should be next for Gilbert Burns?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/2/2019.