UFC welterweight Stephen Thompson says that Gilbert Burns will look for a takedown when they meet at UFC 264 this weekend.
Thompson, a two-time title challenger, is looking to move one step closer to a first meeting with 170-pound king Kamaru Usman with a win over “Durinho.”
Since suffering his first knockout loss against Anthony Pettis in 2019, “Wonderboy” has looked back to his best. Impressive victories over Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal have brought the perennial contender back into the title conversation. Against Burns, Thompson will look to extend his winning streak to three.
As one of the most accomplished and skilful strikers in the entire promotion, it’s expected that very few opponents will be keen to stand and exchange with Thompson. “Wonderboy” doesn’t expect Burns to be any different.
In an interview with MMA Fighting, the 38-year-old suggested that whoever he faces, he now knows to expect a takedown attempt at some point in the fight.
“I know anything can happen. Obviously, the fight with Anthony Pettis, anything can happen. But I do welcome those [kinds of fights], I do. I lead myself to believe that most everybody I face, at some point in time whether it’s early or if it’s a little bit later, I have to be wary because at some point in time, they’re going to try to take me down.”
Thompson went on to explain what he thinks will be the strategy for “Durinho” heading into Saturday’s pay-per-view. “Wonderboy” suggested that Burns may even look to take him down immediately.
“They know they can’t stand in there and strike with me. They’re going to be shooting for the legs and I know for a fact Gilbert Burns will as well. He might just go straight out and try to shoot [for a takedown]. You never know. Get me to the cage, try to wear me down. Kind of like the old GSP (Georges St-Pierre) tactics against strikers. Get you up against the cage, lay on you, wear those arms out.”
And despite admitting that Burns is the superior fighter on the ground, Thompson says he’s ready for wherever the fight may go.
“I’ve got the best of the best at my gym right now and they’re helping me every step of the way, up against the fence, on the ground and of course standing,” Thompson said. “This is such an awesome training camp in the fact that I’m at the top. I’ve been in this game a long time but I feel myself getting better.
“Will I ever be as good as Gilbert Burns on the ground? No, but I can do enough to be able to survive and get back up to my feet if that happens. I’m ready to rock.”
While Burns and Thompson look to make their claim for title shots with a victory in the UFC 264 co-main event, two lightweight stars will look to do the same in the thrilling headlining fight. Completing their trilogy in front of a sold-out crowd inside Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena, Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier will collide in this weekend’s main event.
With exciting names like Sean O’Malley, Michel Pereira and Niko Price also in action, July’s first UFC event looks set to be the biggest PPV of 2021.
Do you think Stephen Thompson will beat Gilbert Burns at UFC 264?