Gilbert Burns details his ‘weird’ gym encounter with Kamaru Usman before UFC 251 where the two teammates will fight for the welterweight championship belt.
“On Monday right after the UFC Las Vegas card that my brother fought at, I ran into him in the gym when I came back,” Burns said about the state of their relationship leading up to July 12. “He stayed here that week and then went to Colorado to finish his camp. We spoke and it was all good. He said, ‘Let’s fight, leave it all in the Octagon, and then we’ll have a beer together.’ It will be very professional.”
Despite what is at stake for the two teammates at Fight Island, Burns thought the conversation was a ‘bit weird’ but ultimately ‘very light’ between him and Usman.
“I was surprised when I saw him. But I was like, ‘Oh, he’s here, cool, let’s have this talk today.’ It was even better that he was there, actually. I knew he would show up in the gym, but I didn’t know when. It was a bit weird, but it was very light.”
Although teammates try their best to avoid fighting each other, Burns became Usman’s next challenger after the Jorge Masvidal contract negotiations failed.
Since Usman defeated Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington in his last two fights, Leon Edwards was another option, but he could not accept due to the pandemic.
While Burns was not the first choice, he became the No. 1 contender in the division after dominating Woodley and was willing to fight his own teammate immediately.
Since moving back up, Burns has been on an impressive four-fight winning streak by defeating Alexey Kunchenko, Gunnar Nelson, Demian Maia, and Woodley.
As Usman has an undefeated 11-0 record in the UFC, he has been extremely dominant but defending his belt against a teammate could make it interesting.
Because Burns and Usman have trained together, they do know each other’s tendencies and the latter changing his training camp could be a deciding factor.
With Burns showing a lot of respect for Usman when asking for the next title shot, the hope is no bad blood ultimately develops between the two teammates.