Gilbert Burns utilized takedowns and top control tonight at UFC 264 to get the better of Stephen Thompson on the scorecards.
Both fighters circle each other just out of range to start the fight. Almost a minute gone now without a strike thrown and then Thompson finally lands a leg kick.
Burns tries to flurry, but Thompson backs away. Burns with a body kick. Burns goes low into a takedown attempt, but Thompson stuffs it. However, Burns drives him into the cage and is still looking for a potential takedown opportunity.
Thompson defending well, but with his legs split wide apart to prevent the double leg it enables Burns to land a few knees to the inside of the thigh.
Burns not giving up on the takedown and eventually opts to switch to a single leg and that does enable him to bring Thompson to the mat with around two minutes of the round remaining.
Good spot for Burns here this early in the fight as he works from half-guard. Patient work from the Brazilian though, opting for positional control more than damage here.
Nevertheless, Thompson manages to get to one knee against the cage. Burns starts to rapid-fire land punches to the head and Thompson responds by quickly getting upright. Burns continues to press him into the cage though.
Final 10 seconds and Thompson is able to break away from the clinch. There’s an exchange of strikes and Burns stumbles off-balance, then as he’s righting himself Thompson lands a head kick just before the horn.
Calf kick for Thompson. Burns attempts a head kick that misses. Spinning kick to the body from Thompson comes up short.
Lunging jab from Thompson. Now another jab. Body kick for him as Burns was looking to come forward. Leg kick for Burns.
Side kick attempt from Thompson. Now he lands one to the body. Kick to the knee from Burns. Burns swings and misses with an overhand.
Leg kick for Burns, opting for the thigh rather than the calf so far. Spinning head kick from Thompson appears to land, but Burns eats it and then comes firing back. He lands a good punch close to the cage, but ‘Wonderboy’ seems ok.
Jab for Thompson. Now a chopping kick to the calf. A one-two lands for Thompson and then a leg kick for Burns.
Side kick to the body from Thompson to maintain his range. Thompson steps into a punch and Burns attempts to work a takedown. Thompson steps out of that attempt though.
Nice right hand for Thompson. Leg kick for Burns and a punch in response from Thompson. Overhand right lands for Burns.
Burns in on a takedown and gets it close to the cage. He starts to land punches as Thompson is stuck in an awkward spot with his head against the cage. Thompson tries to stand up. They remain in this position though and as Burns starts chipping away with punches again, Thompson opts to just trade those short punches with Burns, who still had the superior positioning and as such had a little more purchases on his blows.
Head kick attempt from Thompson. He tries again for a side kick upstairs. Nicely timed counter right for Thompson landed hard. Now another punch followed by a head kick attempt.
Thompson pressing forward with urgency here. He lands a big kick upstairs and Burns staggers, but then comes back swinging and backs up Thompson momentarily.
Just as the action on the feet is heating up though, Burns clinches up looking for the takedown again. Thompson defending for now, but Burns adjusts and does put his opponent on his back again.
Body punches from Burns. He’s now working from side control with less than two minutes of the fight remaining.
light punches to the head from Burns. Now a knee on the belly and a few more punches. More volume than power here though.
Thompson trying to stand up, but can’t get out from under Burns, who threatens with a possible guillotine attempt.
Final seconds of the fight and Thompson again struggles to stand and Burns begins to blast him with hammerfists, but a bunch of those seemed to hit the back of his opponent’s head and neck without a reprimand from the ref.
Thompson had his moments on the feet at times, hurting Burns on a few occasions, but in the end it was the Brazilian’s success bringing ‘Wonderboy’ to the mat and controlling him there that would ensure he emerged with a unanimous decision victory (29-28 x3).