Gilbert Burns just did what three current or former UFC welterweight champions couldn’t do.
The 33-year-old Brazilian dropped Demian Maia with a devastating left hand in their co-main event matchup and finished with a flurry punches on the ground to get the first-round TKO finish. The end game at just 2:34 into the opening round as Burns racked up his third straight win at welterweight and fifth victory in a row overall.
There was nothing but respect in Burns’ voice afterwards as he paid homage to Maia, who had never been previously finished as a welterweight in the UFC.
“I’ve been following this guy through his whole career,” Burns said about Maia. “I think he’ll be a Hall of Famer. I have so much respect. I’m very emotional right now.”
Before Burns got the finish, he first had to fend off the grappling expertise from Maia after he secured a takedown and looked to display his world-class submission skills.
While Maia did a good job advancing his position and nearly getting his opponent’s back, Burn’s own prowess in Brazilian jiu-jitsu allowed him to stay out of too much trouble before finding his way back to the feet.
That’s when Burns unleashed a left hook that started low and then cracked Maia on the jaw, sending him crashing to the canvas immediately. Maia was dazed but not completely knocked out so Burns had to follow up with a few more shots on the ground until the referee saw enough to stop the contest.
Burns jumped up in celebration after finishing Maia, who managed to make it to the final bell with reigning welterweight king Kamaru Usman as well as former title holders Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington.
With the win, Burns is now setting his sights on one of those past champions as he looks to continue his climb up the welterweight ranks.
“I got next — Colby Covington,” Burns shouted. “You gonna see me. I’m gonna beat you up.”