Gilbert Burns earned another impressive win at UFC 287 in a fight that will ultimately serve as the final appearance for Jorge Masvidal.
After losing a unanimous decision in the co-main event, Masvidal announced his retirement from the sport while telling Burns “go get that belt” as they embraced following a three-round battle.
“I love everybody here,” Masvidal shouted to the Miami faithful. “This is where I started my career, it’s been a long 20 years, 50 some fights. Sometimes your favorite basketball player don’t have that 3-pointer no more. Your favorite quarterback loses that rifle. I don’t feel the same when I get in here no more. It’s been 20 long years.
“I love this f****** sport. I’m a multi-millionaire. I didn’t start with nothing. I can say I’m good for life now.”
While Masvidal was saying goodbye, Burns was celebrating a victory with the judges scoring the fight 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 in his favor. Afterwards, Burns paid homage to his opponent and then quickly turned his attention to the welterweight title.
“It feels good but shout out to this guy, he’s still a king from this city,” Burns said. “We’re just here because of this guy. Give it up to your boy, ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal.
“I’m the only guy maybe in the whole UFC that’s willing to fight anyone at any time. With that being said, Leon Edwards, Colby Covington, whoever is holding that belt, I’m coming for you!”
There was a lot of respect being shown early with Burns and Masvidal both waiting for the other to make a mistake to really unleash. Masvidal did start to establish a well-timed leg kick that was chopping away at Burns’ foundation.
As time ticked away in the opening round, Burns started to find a home for his overhand right that cracked Masvidal several times. Burns also managed a late takedown and several nasty hammer fists on the ground just before the horn sounded.
Burns continued throwing that right hand — this time with a stinging uppercut — that dropped Masvidal to the canvas for a split second. As soon as Masvidal got back to the feet, Burns rushed forward before picking him up and slamming him back down to the ground again.
Masvidal was content maintaining his guard while Burns was trying to find room to throw punches as the Miami crowd started to grow restless. When Masvidal finally scrambled to try and break free, Burns was quick to toss him back down again.
With five minutes remaining, Burns started to establish a slick lead with his left and then he followed it with that same powerful right that continuously hurt Masvidal all fight long. Several right hands in succession had Masvidal backed against the cage as Burns continued to tee off on him.
Burns then turned back to his grappling as he took Masvidal down again while throwing short, punishing elbows and punches. As time expired, Burns was all smiles and Masvidal immediately started pulling off his gloves to signify this would be his final fight.
With Leon Edwards expected to battle Colby Covington next, Burns made a compelling case as the next No. 1 contender, although Belal Muhammad might have something to say about that. Perhaps they’ll meet in the future but for now Burns can enjoy his second straight win while serving as the final opponent in Masvidal’s career.