Former UFC welterweight challenger Gilbert Burns knows that his forthcoming opponent Khamzat Chimaev presents a big risk to his status on the 170-pound rankings ladder — but the Brazilian submission artist says that these are the types of challenges that high level mixed martial artists should be pursuing.
Burns will become Chimaev’s fifth UFC opponent when the two meet at UFC 273 in a little over a week’s time and with the previous four having barely laid a glove on the Russian-born Swedish fighter, ‘Durinho’ knows that despite the disparity in their experience in the UFC that Chimaev poses a significant obstacle to his desire to rebound to another world title opportunity.
Burns was defeated by Kamaru Usman in his sole UFC title shot.
“I have two objectives in the UFC. The first is fight against the toughest in the division, and the second is become champion,” said Burns to MMA Junkie, via translation. “And to be champion you need to fight against whoever. I’m not going to be picking and choosing: ‘Oh I want this one, I want that one.’ No.
“Whoever the UFC puts in front of me, I’ll fight. I wanted to fight with Colby (Covington), but he had a fight, so Khamzat was the only one that wanted to fight. I know he’s a big risk and he’s No. 11 and very tough, but if I want to be champion, I need to fight everyone. I’m following the example of Glover Teixeira and Charles Oliveira. I need to fight everyone. He’s tough and a big risk, but I still want to fight him.”
Chimaev has become something of a boogeyman in the welterweight frame since debuting on Fight Island a little under two years ago. His four performances — against John Phillips, Rhys McKee, Gerald Meerschaert and mst recently Li Jingliang — have been almost effortless in the manner in which he has controlled his opposition.
Burns is figured to be a fare more robust test, and he says he will use the momentum from this win to orchestrate another title fight with Usman.
“That’s my objective,” Burns said of working his way back to a title shot. “I made many mistakes against Kamaru and I was able to look at the fight and identify all the mistakes and see what I can do better. I’ve been working extremely hard to earn the next opportunity for the belt. I’m working really hard. So that’s my objective: take all challengers and wins and fight for the title.”
One suspects, though, that Chimaev has similar intentions.