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Gilbert Burns defends Stephen Thompson performance, responds to Dana White criticism

For a moment, habit kicked in for UFC welterweight Gilbert Burns and an apology formed in his mind. Then, he realized he had nothing to be sorry for.

“I caught myself saying sorry, I said, ‘You know what? Boo,’” Burns said on What the Heck. “I don’t care.”

Burns admits his performance against Stephen Thompson at UFC 264 wasn’t must-see TV. It came after a bad knockout loss in the biggest fight of his life, a title shot at UFC 258 against champ Kamaru Usman that started well and suddenly went south. A second consecutive loss wasn’t something he was willing to accept, and so he fought “Wonderboy” to win – not necessarily to entertain.

When the crowd at T-Mobile Arena let him know they were unhappy, Burns was steadfast that he’d done the right thing for his career, which no one other than he had any bigger stake in. So he let them know.

With some distance from the event, Burns can understand where the criticism comes from. He just can’t let himself be taken under by it.

“Now that it’s opened up [and crowds are back], you guys want to see more action,” he said. “But you come in here and do action against these guys. Go forward and swing for the fences, you’ll see what’s going to happen.”

Look at the stats, he said, and you’ll see a fighter that did his job and did it well. Takedowns, striking and control were all in his favor against a two-time title challenger that’s knocked out many an overzealous opponent.

“I was very nervous coming from a knockout loss against the champion and trying to rebuild myself again, make sure I do believe in what I said, that I still have time to be a champion,” Burns said.

And while it would appear the Brazilian’s title hopes might be dimmer in light of UFC President Dana White’s feedback that he merely won the fight, Burns doesn’t put too much stock in the feedback of the moment.

Look at champ Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane, who both delivered performances panned by UFC brass, and you’ll see that the boss can change his mind pretty quickly.

“After [Ngannou] lost the title shot, who was his first fight? How was that fight? Who won that fight? [Derrick] ‘Black Beast’ [Lewis} – it wasn’t Francis. So every weekend [White] makes fights, and he said the same thing about Ciryl Gane a couple of fights ago – ‘I don’t like that performance.’ He’s fighting for the [interim] title right now.

“[White is] very hard nowadays. Dana White’s very emotional, for sure. He wants my fight to be a banger. He wants Conor McGregor’s fight to be a banger, and I understand. As a promoter, that’s what you have to do. I understand his opinion, but I don’t rely on it. That’s not going to define what I do next.”

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