Burns made the move to 170-pounds last year where he beat Alexey Kunchenko and Gunnar Nelson on short notice. He then knocked out Demian Maia in March and followed it up with a dominating performance over Tyron Woodley in May. The wins have put him as the number one contender where the Brazilian will fight his longtime teammate and friend, Kamaru Usman in the main event of UFC 251 for the belt.
For Burns, he says the two have already talked and plan on leaving everything out there inside the Octagon. After that, the two will share a beer together regardless of the result. But, for the Brazilian, he is confident he will leave Abu Dhabi with the belt but knows it will be a tough fight.
“I’m going there to knock him out or submit him,” Burns said to MMAFighting. “That’s what I want to do, but I think it’s going to be a war. I think Kamaru is tougher than Woodley and Demian (Maia), my last two fights. I had a great performance, but Kamaru is a different person, and I think it will be hard to either knock him out or submit him. That’s what I want in the fight, a finish, but I think it’s going to be an intense five-round war.”
Ahead of the scrap, Usman has changed his camp to train under Trevor Wittman in Denver. Henri Hooft, the longtime coach of both men, will not help either fighter.
It will no doubt be a weird fight for both men, but Gilbert Burns knows it is just business and in order to be a UFC champion, he has to fight his friend.