Gilbert Burns says it’s a “blessing” he didn’t end up fighting Kamaru Usman for the UFC welterweight championship in July.
Burns was originally slated to challenge Usman, the UFC welterweight champion, for the division’s strap in the main event of UFC 251 in July. Regrettably, he ended up coming down with COVID-19, and was forced out of the fight as a result.
With Burns out, Usman accepted a short-notice fight with another top welterweight in Jorge Masvidal, and ultimately won by unanimous decision.
Speaking to MMA Fighting this week, Burns conceded that it was a painful experience watching Masvidal walk out for an opportunity that was originally supposed to be his.
“I was watching that fight and I was almost in tears because when Masvidal was walking out to the fight, it was supposed to be me,” Burns said. “When I saw him walking, it was supposed to be me.
“I held on because my kids were here but I almost cried watching Masvidal walking in. That was my chance. It was supposed to be me.”
While Burns admits it was difficult to watch Usman and Masvidal fight, he also recognizes that he likely wouldn’t have been able to perform at a high level due to the COVID-19 symptoms he was suffering—even if he hadn’t tested positive.
“My energy level was not normal coming back,” Burns said. “It’s a long process. I was not at 100 percent [a month after testing positive].
“I feel better that I didn’t fight,” Burns added. “I know that sounds weird but if I got that virus and for any reason tested negative, I was going into the fight and I wasn’t feeling good. Don’t get me wrong, even if I’m not feeling good, I’m going to fight anyways. I’m not going to pull out, especially for a title fight. I’m going to give my best. I don’t know if my best will be enough but I’ll never pull out of the fight.
“But to take me out and I got home and started getting sick, I definitely see it as a blessing.”
Having experienced COVID-19 first-hand, Burns cautions his fans not to take the virus lightly.
“It was very confusing,” Burns said. “Three of my own coaches had it, Kami Barzini, Greg Jones and Vagner Rocha, but they had no symptoms. Vagner felt nothing. Greg Jones and Kami as well, they had no symptoms. Aung La [A Sang], the ONE champion that trains with us, he had no symptoms. It’s confusing.
“You can’t say it’s just for elderly [people],” Burns added. ” Just make sure you take care of yourself, wear your mask, stay clean, don’t go out crazy. Take all the precautions. It’s very confusing, that virus. People get sick, people don’t. Just make sure to take care of yourself and respect the limits. Make sure you [distance] yourself from people and stay safe.”
The good news is that Gilbert Burns is expected to get his long-awaited crack at Kamaru Usman in early 2021.This article appeared first on BJPENN.COM