Since returning to welterweight in 2019, Burns has gone 5-1 and established himself as one of the top names in the division. After victories over Alexey Kunchenko and Gunnar Nelson, “Durinho” shot into title contention with dominant 2020 wins against his compatriot Demian Maia and former 170-pound champion Tyron Woodley.
Having immediately rebounded with a comfortable co-main event triumph over Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, Burns is looking to secure a second crack at dethroning “The Nigerian Nightmare” in his next outing.
UFC Tried To Book Burns vs. Luque
Unfortunately for Gilbert Burns, the logical title eliminator would see him clash with Vicente Luque, his Sanford MMA teammate and friend. Luque has been on an impressive ride to the top, with his latest success against Michael Chiesa placing him in the division’s top five.
During a recent appearance on MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca, Burns revealed that the UFC approached both men’s manager Ali Abdelaziz in an attempt to match the two training partners together.
“[The long wait for a fight] is a bit frustrating, I won’t say it isn’t, but it’s part of the job,” Burns said. “The UFC said the fight to make would be Vicente and I, but since we have this partnership, it won’t happen. This brotherhood screwed us, otherwise, we would have fought already. If we had fought, No. 2 against No. 4, I’d be way up there with a win, and Vicente would be up there with a win as well. I think that’s what’s keeping us stuck, more than the other guys [in the division].” (h/t MMA Fighting)
Despite shutting the door on a fight with Luque, “Durinho” did admit that, given the current welterweight landscape, it would make a lot of sense.
“It makes sense [based on] the rankings,” Burns said. “They know we won’t fight but still asked and tried to make it happen, but we declined. Vicente was the only fight I turned down in the entire division and vice versa. Other than that, I’ve already said I’ll fight anyone.”
Reiterating just how reluctant he is to face “The Silent Assassin,” Burns suggested it would take Floyd Mayweather-level cash for the pair to collide in the Octagon.
“Only if it’s the case of them coming with Floyd Mayweather money and Vicente and I talk and get to the point of like, ‘Let’s fight just for the money.’ Only if it’s something like that,” he said. “Other than that, there’s no way. And [Mayweather money] won’t happen. Only if it’s a life-changing stuff that we talk and see we have to take it. Other than that, I think it’s very difficult.”
While the next steps for both men are still unconfirmed, reports suggest Burns will be the next challenge for surging star Khamzat Chimaev. After returning in style with a submission victory over Li Jingliang at UFC 267, most believe the Chechen-born Swede is one win away from a title shot. A victory over Burns would certainly secure one.
The situation is a little more unclear for Luque. With Leon Edwards set to wait for a rematch with Usman and Colby Covington eyeing up a grudge match with Jorge Masvidal, the 30-year-old is left with #7 contender Neil Magny as the highest-ranked name who’s available and who he’s yet to face.
How do you think a fight between teammates Gilbert Burns and Vicente Luque would play out?