Gilbert Burns was on a 4-1 run in the UFC’s lightweight division when he made the jump to the 170-pound weight class in August 2019. He won his first two fights after that move by unanimous decision. Those two victories had Burns sitting at the No. 12 spot in the official UFC welterweight rankings when he faced the No. 5 ranked Demian Maia in the co-main event of UFC Fight 170 in March.
Burns was a -190 favorite over Maia, who entered the contest as a +120 underdog.
Heading into the fight, prognosticators wondered if the matchup between the two accomplished grapplers would be contested on the mat or if Burns, who had added a dangerous level of striking to arsenal, would want to keep the fight on the feet where he would have an advantage.
Maia controlled the center of the cage early, throwing out a jab, while eating some leg kicks from his opponent. Maia earned a takedown inside the first minute and the two briefly engaged on the mat before Burns returned to his feet. A second Maia takedown followed. Maia did his best to work his submission skills on the mat, but Burns remained composed and again escaped and got to his feet.
When Maia pumped out a long jab, Burns countered with a fast and accurate left hook that dropped Maia to the ground. Burns briefly raised his hands in victory, but the referee did not wave the fight off. With Maia on his back, Burns dropped to the mat and unleashed a flurry of strikes to the head of his opponent. Those blows brought the referee in for the stoppage.
It took Burns 2:34 to finish the fight.
That TKO victory earned Burns the No. 6 spot in the welterweight rankings.
Before that fight takes place, watch Burns’ “Performance of the Night” bonus-winning knockout of Maia.
UFC on ESPN 9 takes place tonight at UFC Apex in Las Vegas. ESPN will broadcast the entire event. ESPN+ will also stream the fight card.
Source: Forbes Business