Gilbert Burns believes he followed the wrong blueprint once he hurt Kamaru Usman in the opening round of the UFC 258 headliner.
“I think I got over excited. I went Cody Garbrandt crazy as soon as I hurt him,” Burns said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “It was the second time [in my career]. I think I made the same mistake when I fought Dan Hooker. I got over excited. To become a champion, I cannot make those mistakes.”
Burns hurt Usman when an overhand right during an early exchange in their welterweight title bout at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. From there, the Brazilian blitzed for the finish and ultimately wound up slipping on a head kick. Burns couldn’t entice Usman into his guard, and the champion gradually regained his bearings.
Garbrandt, the former UFC bantamweight champion, became known for biting down on his mouthpiece and throwing caution to the wind during a three-bout skid in which he suffered knockout losses to T.J. Dillashaw (twice) and Pedro Munhoz.
Once he hurt Usman, Burns says he spent the rest of the fight looking for the kill shot. That ultimately led to his downfall in the form of a third-round technical knockout defeat.
“That was the mistake. I thought about it. Then I got caught,” Burns said. “I know I can hit any one of these guys. In order to become a champion, I have to be disciplined. I have so much respect for my guy Cody Garbrandt…I just went the same way.
“As soon as I saw that he was hurt, I forgot about the strategy and went for the kill. In order to be a champion, I can’t make those mistakes.”
Burns was visibly distraught following the loss. But he says there is no ill will toward Usman, a former training partner.
“I still like Kamaru Usman a lot. I have so much respect for the guy,” he said. “But when we get there, we’re gonna fight. It’s not tennis, it’s not soccer. It’s a fight. I’m never gonna say nothing bad about him. When I go to the fight, I don’t see a face. I just try to finish.”
Burns, who began his UFC tenure at 155 pounds, saw himself become a contender at welterweight following victories over Tyron Woodley, Demian Maia, Alexey Kunchenko and Gunnar Nelson. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt remains focused on his goal of eventually becoming champion even after a disheartening setback.
“It’s life,” Burns said. “The thing that disappointed me, I’m a warrior. I’ve been through a lot. I keep going. That’s not gonna stop me. I was super sad because I believed so much, I worked super hard and I failed. I’m gonna keep working. That’s it. I’m gonna do whatever I need to do, but I’m gonna be back.”
Burns plans on taking some time off to heal up from this fight, but he doesn’t want to stay sidelined for too long.
“I’m gonna fight again soon for sure. I need a little time off with my family, but I’ll be back as soon as I can,” Burns said. “As soon as I heal up, let’s say two or three weeks, Dana [White], I’m gonna call you. I have so much work to do. The work doesn’t stop.”
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