When Gilbert Burns received his contract for the fight against Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 273, he only had one question in his mind.
“I asked [my manager] Ali [Abdelaziz] ‘hey, why three rounds?’” Burns told MMA Fighting. “No, I’m fighting this guy.’ I’m giving him a courtesy. I’m the No. 2 [ranked] fighter, he’s No. 11. Give me five rounds. But it didn’t happen.”
According to Burns, he not only accepted the fight against Chimaev but he sought out the matchup against a fighter who had suddenly been deemed as the scariest prospect the welterweight division had ever seen. He had no problem with the timing for the matchup or where they were at on the pay-per-view main card but Burns wanted to truly test Chimaev and that was going to require 25 minutes.
“I requested it and I requested it a couple of times, Ali [did], too,” Burns said about the five-round fight. “I don’t know if because of the two title fights maybe, I don’t know. I didn’t get an answer. The way I see it, we’ve got to do it again. It’s got to be five rounds next. A lot of respect to Khamzat.
“Once again, I don’t want to take nothing away from this guy. I have no excuse. I went into a battle. I leave my heart in there. The guy hurt me a couple of times, I kept moving forward. I keep trying to fight. I like him. Every time we go to these fights, we leave a piece of ourselves in there but I knew that going into this fight, this guy would be very, very tough. Not the monster — no way that guy would have an easy fight and finish me in the first round — but he ended up getting the win so I have to give a lot of respect to this guy.”
Despite only having three rounds to work, Burns gave Chimaev everything he could handle while blasting the undefeated prospect with a number of hard shots that left him rattled.
All three judges ultimately scored the fight 29-28 in favor of Chimaev and while Burns believes he could have walked away with the victory, he’s not screaming about some kind of injustice done to him just because he didn’t earn the decision.
“I watched the fight a couple of times,” Burns said. “A lot of things that I trained I didn’t do, as in training. I should have thrown a little bit more calf kicks and whenever he switched stances, the right kick was there. So much happening. I didn’t move my head at all but I think it was a good performance. I think I put on a show for the fans. I think he was very tough, too. He won the first round with the little knockdown that I had. A freaking knockdown, the guy changed southpaw, that happens sometimes when they change southpaw. I eat that jab and that was a very hard jab and he put me down. I won the second round and I feel I threw a lot of bombs in the last round.
“[I’m not angry] but I was thinking that I did enough [to win] but a little bit mad because I didn’t do a lot of things I was planning to do. But I thought it could go either way. I thought I threw the hardest punches. I was loading up a lot of punches, throwing a lot of big shots on the guy. It’s hard to take anything away from Khamzat. It was a very close fight.”
The back-and-forth slugfest earned the welterweights an extra $50,000 each for the Fight of the Night at UFC 273 and it’s hard to imagine that battle won’t end up as one of the top fights for all of 2022.
While he didn’t feel robbed by the decision, Burns still feels like he has unfinished business with Chimaev because he truly wanted a definitive ending and neither of them got that.
“The way I see it right now, we’re not done,” Burns said. “Me and Khamzat, we have to see each other again. I give him a courtesy. I’m waiting for the courtesy back. I know he moves forward, I know the UFC wants to make the Colby [Covington] fight but we’re not done. I want to fight Khamzat again.
“I think when a fight is super close, I don’t want to judge the fight. I’m not a judge. I threw a lot of things at this guy but I just feel we’re not done. We’ve got to get that one done. Someone has to go down. Five rounds, seven rounds, someone has got to go down next time.”
After the fight was over, Chimaev paid homage to Burns after they went to war together in the octagon but he also didn’t back down from a request for a rematch.
“In five rounds, I will take your soul,” Chimaev wrote on Instagram. “See you soon, boy.”
Burns didn’t really feel the need to take anything away from Chimaev based on his performance at UFC 273 but he knows whether it’s the next fight or a year down the road, they will meet again.
“I think he was kind of underestimating me,” Burns said. “They think I’m going to be an easy fight. It’s not going to be an easy fight against me.
“I have a ton of respect for every opponent that I have, that I will have. I think those guys are all warriors. You can say whatever you want but at the end, you’ve got to show respect. We’re both freaking gladiators. We’re putting it all on the line.”