After a series of postponements, Gilbert Burns will finally get the chance to compete for the welterweight title against Kamaru Usman at UFC 258, but it’s not exactly going to be a step into the unknown for the Brazilian ace as he already gone toe-to-toe with the champion many times in the past.
Burns and Usman are long-time training partners and so ‘Durinho’ estimates they already have locked horns on the feet and on the mat hundreds of times over the years.
“Me and Kamaru had over 200 rounds sparring, at least,” Burns told MMAJunkie. “We started training together in 2012 in Blackzillians. Then Blackzillians broke down, they disappeared, so we moved with Henri Hooft. We went to a place called Combat Club. Then we were there for almost a year, and then we opened up the Hard Knocks. We were at Hard Knocks for two years. Then we moved to Sanford MMA and then we been in Sanford for a total of two years. So I’ve trained with Kamaru for seven years and we both love to train.
“He was a good training partner for me and I was good partner for him. Just sparring sessions, over 200. And just the grappling sessions, plus the wrestling sessions, for sure I have so many hours on the mat with Kamaru. We know each other very well.”
The old saying that ‘Iron sharpens iron,’ certainly appears to apply here as Burns is currently on a six-fight winning streak, defeating the likes of Gunnar Nelson, Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley along the way, while Usman has constructed a formidable 12-fight unbeaten run in the UFC, including defeating a number of leading fighters like Jorge Masvidal, Tyron Woodley, Colby Covington and Leon Edwards to name but a few.
“I have so much respect for Kamaru,” Burns continued. “I like him a lot and it’s going to be a competition. No bad blood, nothing. I have nothing against him. He’s been a great champion, a good teammate. We were never close friends, we never texted each other or anything, it was always about fighting.”