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Herbert Burns 'felt overlooked' by ONE Championship, but leaves doors open as he enters free agency

Herbert Burns Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

Herbert Burns might enter the ONE Championship cage for the last time Saturday.

The Brazilian featherweight meets Magomed Idrisov in the preliminary portion of the ONE Championship: Kings and Conquerors card in Macau, China, on Aug. 5, and will become a free agent after the fight.

"There was no talk about re-signing yet, and I don’t want to think about it right now,” Burns told MMA Fighting. "Idrisov is tough enough already so I won’t think about other things. My focus in on getting this win, and after the fight we’ll see what the future holds for us. I have to get this win first."

Burns signed with ONE Championship as a 1-0 prospect from Brazil in 2012, and won five in a row in the promotion before suffering his first professional loss in February. Close to free agency, “The Blaze” knows that a win in his final bout is crucial for his plans.

“Leaving (the cage) with this victory will be great,” Burns said. "I entered ONE taking a fight on five days’ notice and won in less than a minute. I had a good winning streak, but I felt overlooked. No one else won five in a row, but I didn’t get a shot at the belt. But that’s in the past.

"My last fight didn’t go as planned and I lost, and now I want to win and leave doors open,” he continued. "I fought high-level fighters throughout my career and was able to impose my sharp grappling and technical striking. That’s my game. If it’s not meant for me to stay at ONE Championship, other promotions will be happy to have me.”

The younger brother of UFC lightweight Gilbert Burns changed a few things after suffering his first loss, including leaving his hometown to train full-time in the United States.

"I invested more in my camp, decided to leave Niteroi to train at Combat Club here in Florida,” he said. "I have a lot of high-level fighters to train with there, and it was good for me. I tried to do something more professional for this fight, and I will show those changes in this fight."

Burns lost to Movlid Khaibulaev in his most recent bout after more than a year away from the cage, and mentions a series of factors that led to his defeat. Not dealing with ring rust anymore, and having fixed mistakes the cost him the fight, Burns says he learned a few lessons earlier this year.

“You can’t fight if you’re not 100 percent,” Burns said. "I’ve done that in jiu-jitsu before, but it’s worth it in MMA. You have to stay active, so I competed in a few grappling tournaments after that fight."

Against Idrisov, the 29-year-old Brazilian aims to add another submission victory to his record as he prepares to enter the next chapter of his MMA career.

"I’m fighting a tough guy now, and I’m better prepared this time,” Burns said. "He has heavy hands, his overhand right is how he wins his fights. He has a good boxing, is a sambo champion, has competed his entire life, so I don't think he will feel the pressure of fighting in a big promotion like ONE Championship.

"It’s a clash of styles, he will make sure the fight stays standing while I’m going there to use my jiu-jitsu."

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