Gilbert Burns hasn’t given up hope on a five-round fight against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 287, though he concedes it probably won’t happen.
Just days after their matchup was announced for the April 8 card, the one-time UFC welterweight title challenger requested a 25-minute co-headliner. Masvidal quickly shot down that idea, adding he’d already signed his bout agreement and wasn’t interested in a five-round fight unless the UFC pays him “BMF money.”
Despite that declaration, Burns is still waiting on the UFC to respond. He really wants that opportunity, especially for a fight of this magnitude.
“For sure, it’s a disappointment,” Burns told MMA Fighting. “I’m still waiting on the UFC. We’re talking with the UFC — if they say, ‘We don’t think so,’ I’m going to say please, come on. I don’t ask for much. I just want five rounds. You guys did five rounds for Leon Edwards and Nate [Diaz], you guys did five rounds on other occasions. Why not? I’m pushing, but we’re still waiting.
“It’s very hard when one guy says no – it’s very hard for the UFC to say yes. So we’ll see. I would love to have that [‘BMF’] title in place and five rounds for sure because I just think I’m going to destroy this guy.”
Burns still plans on delivering a stellar performance, whether he has 15 or 25 minutes to work. But he prefers an extra two rounds just to ensure he can put Masvidal away before the final horn.
“The main goal is destroying these guys and become champion,” Burns said. “So if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.
“Three rounds, I’m going to make that guy suffer so much in three rounds that it should be enough, but five rounds just guarantees a finish. If the fight is five rounds, I’ll finish, but if he don’t want it, it’s all good.”
Even more than the five-round fight, what Burns really wanted was the opportunity to compete for the “Baddest Mother F*****” title Masvidal claimed after beating Nate Diaz in a special attraction in 2019.
While numerous opponents have called for the same chance to take the belt from Masvidal, the BMF title was largely ceremonial and is not recognized by the UFC.
That said, Burns believes his record of accepting any opponent thrown at him — regardless of ranking or location — speaks volumes about his own BMF credentials.
“Having that belt, I think the true fans know I’m not trying to put myself on a different level from everybody,” Burns said. “I think we’re all humans, we’re the same, but I’m different. I fight anyone. I think I’m the BMF in the division and the whole UFC. I fight anyone.
“I fought Khamzat [Chimaev], I fought Neil Magny. I fought ‘Wonderboy’ [Stephen Thompson]. Those guys call me, ‘You want to fight Wonderboy, and Wonderboy was [ranked] No. 5. I don’t care. I remember they called me not too long ago you want to fight the Russian dude, who is 20-0, I said yes. Do you want to go to Denmark to fight Gunnar Nelson in two weeks? Yeah, I’ll go. I think I’m way more BMF than these guys.”
Despite a back-and-forth with Masvidal, Burns promises he has nothing but the utmost respect for his opponent. His only real issue came down to his revelation last year that the UFC offered him a fight against Masvidal and he accepted, only to see Masvidal claim that wasn’t the case.
More than anything, Burns wants to set the record straight that he’s never turned down a UFC opportunity.
“I respect this guy – he’s a beast,” Burns said of Masvidal. “Over 50 fights, fought in the backyard, the whole story. I respect Masvidal. Nothing against him. My only issue was I just hope these lies — these guys [need to tell the truth], ‘When the UFC offered me the fight, I said no,’ because everybody is playing games. ‘Oh the fight was never offered.’ These things bother me a little bit.
“Belal Muhammad said I ducked him. I never ducked that guy. He ducked fighting me in Brazil. The fight was offered to him officially, and he turned it down. He don’t want to fight me. I just wish the whole MMA community would tell the truth about these things. I never say no to a fight. The Masvidal fight was offered to me three times. Belal Muhammad was offered and he said no.
“I never said no to a fight. I wish people would really see the reality of that. [I wish] Dana [White] or someone would come and say ‘yeah, this guy says he’s the BMF but he’s not.’ That’s one thing that bothers me a little bit. At the end of the day, that just fires me up. These guys don’t deserve the position that they have and I’m going to work even harder to become a champion. It just puts a lot of fire in me, these little lies when we’re playing games, trying to be funny. I’m done playing games.”