It seems to be agreed upon by most in the mixed martial arts community that the fight to make in the UFC’s 170-pound division is a bout between champion Kamaru Usman and surging top contender Gilbert Burns. After all, the two were supposed to headline UFC 251 this past July, but Burns was forced to withdraw from the bout after testing positive for COVID-19, which led to Usman defeating late replacement Jorge Masvidal.
Since Usman’s victory over Masvidal, however, it appears as if little progress has been made in regards to booking Usman vs. Burns. In fact, despite UFC President Dana White saying that he was targeting the bout for UFC 258 in February, “Durinho” recently said that he has yet to see a contract for the bout.
“The fight was postponed to January 23, and I was just like, ‘Wow, okay, no problem. We’re going to keep working and getting better.’ Boom, then they’re targeting February 13 but we still haven’t seen the contract,” Burns told John Hyon Ko (transcribed by Adam Martin). “But I’m looking forward. I got a good word from Dana and from the UFC that that’s the date they’re looking for. Now I’m just waiting on the contract and getting better.”
While the bout may not be signed just yet, it seems as if Burns is hopeful that it will be soon and he’s certainly deserving of the shot. The 34-year-old has been on a tear since returning to welterweight in 2019, for example, as he’s won four-straight fights including victories over Alexey Kunchenko, Gunnar Nelson, Demian Maia, and Tyron Woodley. Overall, he’s won six consecutive bouts.
Usman, meanwhile, has established himself as a force to be reckoned with over the years by winning a highly impressive 16 fights in a row. In 2019, he scored a one-sided decision victory over Woodley to win the title and then defended it in a five-round slugfest against Colby Covington before outpointing Masvidal this past Summer.
With the new year approaching, the UFC is going to need to begin filling events, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see this fight booked in the near future.