Titan FC is jumping into the world of combat grappling with a marquee matchup.
On Thursday, MMA Fighting was told that UFC veterans Gilbert Burns and Gleison Tibau will meet in a combat grappling superfight on the upcoming Titan FC 53 event at Xtreme Action Park in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on March 15.
This will be the first combat grappling match under the Titan FC banner after the promotion announced it was going to start implementing those types of bouts last November. Burns and Tibau, longtime lightweight competitors in MMA, will meet at 180 pounds to accommodate their respective schedules (Burns is eyeing a spot on the upcoming UFC on ESPN 3 card on April 27 in Miami).
The rules are still being finalized, but Titan FC COO Lex McMahon confirmed that the bout will be submission-only with eight-minute rounds and a “shootout” tiebreaker should the contest go into overtime (according to McMahon, the tiebreaker rules likely to be similar to Eddie Bravo Invitational overtime rules, a version of which can be read here). Slaps and open-hand strikes will be permitted.
McMahon’s goal is to eventually put together a proper combat grappling tournament under the Titan FC banner, but for now he’s interested in getting feedback from the fans and getting a better grasp on how such a competition should best be organized and presented.
“This will be the launching point and what you’ll see is a rollout strategy, it may not be every event because we’re working on creating things that are going to continue to draw attention to what we do really well, which is put on amazing fight cards,” McMahon said. “I understand MMA incredibly well and I understand kickboxing pretty well.
“I don’t understand grappling as well so I’ve had to really take some time to learn it and really defer to so many incredible experts here. So we want to do this first one as a superfight, do it well, learn from it, and then take a step back. Get some feedback, and then hit the ground running and then we’ll roll out another one or two superfights on a subsequent Titan FC MMA card. And then I think at that point you’ll see a full grappling tournament from us.”
Both Brazilian fighters are known for their strong ground games, though Burns in particular has numerous high-level jiu-jitsu accolades on his resume and he regularly competes in grappling competitions when not fighting in the UFC. Burns’s last Octagon appearance saw him defeat Olivier Aubin-Mercier via unanimous decision at UFC 231 this past December, his third win in four fights.
The Burns-Tibau match will be slotted just right before two Titan FC 53 headlining bouts. In the main event, flyweight champion Juan Puerta (16-6) defends his title in a rematch against Gustavo Balart (8-1), and former UFC fighter Michael Graves (7-1-2) fights Jared Gooden (13-2) for an interim welterweight title in the co-headliner.
Titan FC 53 will air live on UFC Fight Pass.