Reigning UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman thought Khamzat Chimaev vs. Gilbert Burns, which took place on the UFC 273 pay-per-view (PPV) main card earlier this month in Jacksonville, Fla., was a “very good fight” for the fans, as well as the division.
Not surprisingly, their three-round banger won “Fight of the Night.”
“Khamzat coming in, he’s definitely showed — he’s done a great job. Props to the kid, he’s done a great job with what he’s been presented and the opposition. I take nothing away from him,” Usman told TMZ Sports. “I think if I had a word of advice for him, it’s just to not get caught up in [the hype], because it kind of seemed like that was starting to happen.”
Chimaev came into the Burns fight with a perfect 10-0 record and some pretty impressive stats after blowing through the competition at 170 pounds. But Usman was not a fan of how badly the sportsbooks dismissed “Durinho,” who at the time was ranked No. 2 in the world.
“I think a lot of people were disrespecting Gilbert Burns,” Usman continued. “You get a kid like this that comes in and has all this hype and everyone talking about him, it’s just great — it’s great for the sport, it’s great for guys like myself, but [the hype] was very disrespectful to a guy like Gilbert Burns, who has put in the years, who has put in the time, has fought all these guys to get up here at the top of this division, and now you’re just kind of dismissing him. And to be honest with you, I think just minor tweaks from Gilbert Burns, I think that fight was definitely very, very winnable — and I think he knows that now.”
Chimaev captured a unanimous decision victory over Burns to improve his record to 11-0 but went to the judges’ scorecards for the first time in his professional career. It was also a very close fight that may have kept “Borz” from stealing the next 170-pound title shot.
“He’s gone out there and he’s beat the No. 2 guy in the division,” Usman continued. “He got the ‘W’ so it’s very difficult for me to say, ‘No, he doesn’t deserve anything.’ No, he went up there, he’s gone up against Gilbert Burns and he was able to go out there and do what he needed to do, so I take nothing away from him. If that’s the fight then that’s the fight.”
Usman is expected to make his next welterweight title defense against longtime rival Leon Edwards at some point over the summer and welcomes Chimaev as the nest contender in line — assuming “Borz” can make it through this fight in one piece.