Gilbert Burns has found a new home following his return to the welterweight division.
After accepting a short-notice fight against Gunnar Nelson at UFC Copenhagen on Saturday, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace used his signature grappling game coupled with a rapidly improving striking arsenal to get the unanimous decision victory after three rounds—his second straight win at 170 pounds.
The scorecards all read 29-28 in favor of Burns.
On paper this was a battle between two ground specialists, but Nelson and Burns were resigned to stay standing throughout the opening round. While Nelson was comfortable from the outside, Burns looked to close the distance while punishing the Icelandic fighter’s lead leg with a series of blistering kicks.
Burns finally attempted his first takedown with 30 seconds remaining in the first round but Nelson hit a nice reversal to land on top, although he didn’t do much damage until the horn sounded.
Neither fighter wanted to give an inch during the exchanges, especially when the fighters got locked in a clinch against the cage with Nelson and Burns both refusing to give up the position. Burns eventually exploded forward with a huge flying knee that blasted Nelson, but he barely flinched before looking to take the Brazilian to the ground.
Burns answered back by stuffing the takedown and then working for an anaconda choke, but Nelson’s wealth of grappling experience helped him stay calm before escaping the submission.
The back-and-forth fight saw Nelson and Burns each try to gain the upper hand in the final round. Burns continued to fire off his powerful leg kicks that turned Nelson’s calf several shades of red.
With less than a minute remaining, Burns was able to swoop inside before lifting Nelson up and bringing him crashing back down to the ground. The emphatic slam led to Burns attempting to take the back but Nelson continued to scramble until he broke free to get back to his feet.
When the fight ended, Nelson had a big smile on his face believing he had done enough to secure the win after accepting the fight with Nelson on short notice.
Now with four wins in a row, Burns has suddenly become a name to watch in the welterweight division, especially after dispatching someone as highly regarded as Nelson and he already has his sights set on UFC 245 with an opponent in mind.
“With a full training camp, I want Neil Magny,” Burns shouted. “December 14. Let’s go!”