UFC 258: Burns Opens Up On His 200 Rounds Of Sparring With Usman

Gilbert Burns is set to challenge UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 258. Whilst the fight will certainly be the biggest of his life, he can take comfort in the fact that he knows his opponent inside out.

They were originally booked to compete at UFC 251, but the fight was postponed after Burns tested positive for the coronavirus. The fight was then rescheduled for UFC 256, but was called off after Usman claimed he wouldn’t be ready in time.

Over 200 Rounds

While next month’s pay-per-view will be their first meeting inside the Octagon, Burns told MMA Junkie that he and his long-time teammate Usman, have had over 200 rounds of sparring together.

“Me and Kamaru had over 200 rounds sparring, at least,” Burns said. “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.”

Burns’ Favourite Training Partner

Burns recalls that Usman, who left Sanford MMA last year ahead of their first scheduled bout and now trains with Trevor Wittman, was always his go-to training partner, and the two fighters helped each other a lot throughout the years.

“It was hard work for both,” Burns shared. “He beat me up a couple of times; I beat him up a couple of times. It was very competitive, especially when I went up to 170 [pounds]. I think I was always a natural welterweight, but as soon as I moved up [from lightweight], I got a little bigger and then I felt even better with all the welterweights at the gym.

“But it was always good work. Kamaru was always a guy that if I saw that he was available, I was always looking to drill or to train and with him. We helped each other a lot.”

Expecting A Good Fight

Although Burns has his eye on the title, he has a lot of respect for Usman and is looking forward to a good fight against him come February 13th.

“I have so much respect for Kamaru,” Burns said. “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.”

Burns last fought against Tyron Woodley at UFC Vegas last May, winning the fight via a one-sided unanimous decision. When ‘Durinho’ had to pull out of UFC 251, Jorge Masvidal stepped in on one week’s notice but was comfortably beaten by Usman over five rounds.

Who do you think leaves as the UFC welterweight champion at UFC 258, Gilbert Burns or Kamaru Usman?

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