The majority of people looking at his fight against Khamzat Chimaev counted Gilbert Burns out before the fighters even walked to the cage.
But Saturday at UFC 273, Burns showed the MMA world – and in particular, Chimaev – that he’s a tough opponent to crack. Burns (20-5 MMA, 13-5 UFC) gave Chimaev (11-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) by far the biggest test of his career, but dropped a unanimous decision.
Heading into the fight, not only was Chimaev unbeaten, but in his first four UFC fights – all bonus-winning stoppages – he only had absorbed one significant strike.
Burns gave him plenty more than one significant strike. When his 15 minutes with Burns was done, Chimaev, no doubt, knew he had been in a fight. And he said he appreciated the fact he got tested and had to go the distance to get his hand raised with a trio of 29-28 scores from the judges.
Burns, who recently challenged for the UFC’s welterweight title, now will have to go back to the drawing board and start to climb back up into contention. But on his Instagram stories Sunday, he seemed to be in good spirits – and said he’ll be back to fight soon.
“Thank you everybody for the wishes, everybody for the messages. It was a tough one,” Burns said in English after a series of clips in his native Portuguese. “I mean, I had fun. It wasn’t the result that I wanted. But unfortunately, life’s like that. A lot of work, a lot of discipline, but it is what it is. … (I’m) out, but not for long. I’ll be back another day.”
The Chimaev-Burns bout was given Fight of the Night at UFC 273, which took place at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. It likely is on the early list of candidates for 2022’s best fight, as well.