Kamaru Usman will face arguably his toughest challenge to date when he defends his welterweight championship against Gilbert Burns at UFC 258. What makes this assignment so difficult for Usman is not just the fact that Burns is the #2-ranked welterweight in the promotion who has yet to lose in the division or the fact that Burns’s black belt in jiu-jitsu poses difficult problems for Usman’s wrestling. It’s the fact that there is no other welterweight on the roster who is as familiar with Usman as Burns.
Gilbert Burns claims that he and Usman have had over 200 sparring sessions, which makes sense due to how long the two have trained together between their time at Blackzillians followed by Sanford MMA. Burns has discussed how this training history has influenced his preparation for his first UFC title fight on February 13 when the world will find out who the better man is between the two. But according to Dan Hooker, both of the combatants already know.
“I think those boys already know. If you’re a day in, day out training partner with someone, you’re gonna know how that fight’s gonna play out,” Hooker said in an interview with The Schmo recently. “That’s a fight that’s happened in the gym probably a thousand times over and over. So I feel like they already know who’s gonna take that one. It’ll be interesting.”
Hooker Knows Who He’ll Be Rooting For At UFC 258
Like Usman, Dan Hooker is also familiar with Gilbert Burns, not as a training partner but as a former opponent. Hooker was able to hand Burns the only KO loss of his career in 2018. Due to Burns’ graciousness in defeat, Hooker will be rooting him on when he takes the Octagon to challenge Usman at UFC 258.
“I feel like at welterweight he’s a bit of a different fighter,” Burns said. “He was cool, man. After the fight, we were out back having a meal with our teams. And we spoke after the fight, and he wished me nothing but the best in my future, and I wished him the exact same thing. So I truly hope he wins. I wish him nothing but the best.”
Who do you think will win at UFC 258 between champion Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns?