Undefeated prospects Gilbert Burns and Andreas Stahl are set to make their Octagon debut on Saturday night on the UFC on FOX 12 card in San Jose, Calif., but being in the Octagon is not something new to Burns.
"Durinho" was part of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil as an assistant coach of Vitor Belfort’s team, and he also cornered "The Phenom" in multiple UFC fights. He’s the one inside the Octagon now, and he feels ready for it.
"I think it helps because I was already (in the Octagon) before, I know what it’s like, but at the same time I wasn’t the one fighting inside the cage, so it only helps a little," Burns told MMAFighting.com. "I will always feel the pressure, and it only gets bigger from now on, but I know how to deal with it."
Burns, who trains with Belfort at the Blackzilians team in Florida, makes his UFC debut two and a half years after competing in MMA for the first time, and training among UFC fighters helped him get ready.
"My camp was perfect," he said. "I evolve more after every camp, and I’m feeling better in every aspect of the fight. I’m really happy with the opportunity to fight in the UFC. I worked hard for this, and it’s another achievement in my career. I want to honor this opportunity doing my best in every fight."
With seven first-round finishes in his 7-0 run in MMA, "Durinho" promises he can go three rounds, but prefers to finish the fight as soon as possible. The Brazilian fighter struggled to make 155 pounds in Brazil, even failed to make weight a few times, so fighting in the UFC at welterweight might help him perform even better.
"My cardio is one of the weapons I never had to use," he said. "I want this win and I’m going for it, but I don’t want to leave it to the judges. I have a great cardio, and I don’t think about what my opponent can do. I will be ready if the fights go past the first round. I will be ready to do my game."
"(Stahl) is a wrestler that likes the clinch and the ground and pound. My boxing and kickboxing have evolved a lot, but I don’t want to lose my essence," he added. "I will be aggressive and go for the finish. I want a submission, but a knockout wouldn’t be that bad."
A grappling wizard with multiple titles, including a world jiu-jitsu championship in 2011, Burns doesn’t plan to stop competing in grappling or BJJ tournaments. The jiu-jitsu black belt, who holds wins over the likes of Kron Gracie and JT Torres, wants titles in both sports.
"I love the competition, gi or no gi," he said. "It’s hard to do both grappling and MMA, but sometimes I can. I will do both as long as I can. I will always to everything I can to compete at events like ADCC, Metamoris, Jiu-Jitsu Expo and Copa Podio.
"My goal in the UFC is to be the best. Winning the title is not an easy task, but it’s not impossible either."