Gilbert Burns feared losing title shot to Chimaev: ‘Thank God we closed the deal’

The next UFC welterweight title challenger Gilbert Burns had quite the resume to warrant a a crack at Kamaru Usman’s belt, but was not too sure if he would ever get the chance.

Although ‘Durinho’ defeated former champion Tyron Woodley in his last outing and secured himself as the number one contender in the rankings, he still had the feeling he could be pushed aside until he had a signed contract.

In an interview with Ag Fight, Burns explained that the time it took for the UFC to secure his title shot left him anxious with the possibility of being leapfrogged by other contenders. Namely Khamzat Chimaev, who Burns knows is on the rise and on president Dana White’s good side after a very successful year of 2020.

“Thank God we closed the deal. They had already sent me the date, the problem was the contract that was taking too long, but it’s all official now. The ‘Countdown’ crew has been to my house already, so it’s definitely going to happen. I’ve been training hard, but I was afraid the fight would go to Khamzat Chimaev or something. I think it took that long because of the UFC. I don’t know if they were dealing with Jorge Masvidal or Colby Covington, too. But now is the time to train hard and win that title.”

A former teammate of Usman, Durinho believes that the time spent training with the champion will be an advantage as well as a disadvantage for both of them. The way Burns sees it, both men know each other’s weaknesses and strong suits, but the Brazilian plans to surprise Usman with how much he has evolved since parting ways with the champion back in June of last year.

“I know many of his strong suits and weaknesses, as he knows mine. So I’ve been trying to close those gaps. I’ve been training a lot of wrestling and clinching, which are the things he is good at. Now the focus is on me. I’ve been working hard on my jiu-jitsu, all kinds of submissions, head, feet, arms, neck, I’ve been trying to get the finish from every possible angle. I think my jiu-jitsu will make the difference.”

Currently on a six-fight winning streak, Gilbert Burns (19-3) scored some notable wins during his run, including Tyron Woodley, Demian Maia and Gunnar Nelson, among others. His latest loss happened in July 2018, when he got knocked out by Dan Hooker.

Now, Gilbert Burns is expected to meet Kamaru Usman for the welterweight belt at UFC 258, on February 13, in a location yet to be determined.

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