It’s only been just over a year since Burns competed for the 170-pound gold, falling short against dominant champion Kamaru Usman via second-round TKO at UFC 258. Despite rebounding with a comfortable victory over Stephen Thompson and maintaining his #2 spot in the division, “Durinho” finds himself preparing for an opponent outside the divisional top 10.
However, that opponent is no normal foe.
Chimaev has been on a dominant tear in the UFC, going 4-0 with four finishes, while barely being touched by his rivals in the process. His mission at UFC 273 will be to break into the elite of the weight class and stake his claim for a title shot. The veteran Burns, meanwhile, will be looking to book a second Octagon date with “The Nigerian Nightmare.”
While Chimaev’s growing stardom and the focus on his rise in the UFC is undeniable, as proved by the fight week numbers on content surrounding the Chechen-born Swede, some have questioned why Burns is risking his spot in the division against a man unproven against the top level of competition.
Burns Explains Why He Pushed For Chimaev Now
During an interview with ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto, Burns broke down his thought process and reasoning behind asking for this fight, which goes down on the main card of UFC 273 tonight in Jacksonville, Florida.
The Brazilian believes it’ll be much easier to beat Chimaev now than it will be a couple years down the line, although he didn’t clarify whether that belief derives from his expectation for “Borz” to rapidly improve, or his own limited time left at the top.
“I just got a feeling. No one wanna fight this guy, and then I’m looking for a fight, no one wants to fight me,” said Burns. “I text Ali (Abdelaziz) right away and I say, ‘Hey, I fight this guy.’ He was like, ‘Why?!’ Because I’m confident I can beat this guy. And to be honest, I think it will be easier to beat this guy right now than in like, two years from now.”
Burns added that with only three to four good years left in him, he wants to fight the best and maintain his championship aspirations. To do that, he identified Chimaev as the man he must defeat.
“I’m 35, brother. I’m not getting any younger. It’s very hard to get me a good fight right now, so why not? If the guy is all this, that’s the guy that I wanna fight,” added Burns. “I think my window is closing on the sport, not right now, but I’m 35. I do believe I’ve got maybe three, maybe four, good years in me. I wanna fight the best guys. I still wanna be a champion.”
Given Chimaev’s quick ascension up the welterweight ranks, which most recently saw him brutally choke out Li Jingliang at UFC 267, it’s hard to argue that at his current pace, “Borz” could be an even more formidable opponent in the years to come.
If that turns out to be the case, perhaps Burns is smart to attack the challenge now. Either way, we’ll find out if it’s paid off in a matter of hours.
UFC 273 takes place live tonight on pay-per-view. Keep it locked right here on MMANews.com for all the results and highlights!