What mattered most at UFC on ESPN 9 in Las Vegas? Here are a few post-fight musings …
* * * * *
1. Can Gilbert Burns slide into a title shot?
Gilbert Burns had his breakout moment when he put on a five-round clinic against former longtime UFC welterweight champ Tyron Woodley. If you weren’t taking him seriously as a contender before, it’s time to correct that now.
Burns called for a title shot against good friend and teammate Kamaru Usman after beating up Woodley, and while his moxy is commendable, he’s not the guy who should be fighting for the belt next. However, that doesn’t mean he won’t be.
Welterweight is in a tricky place right now. There’s some real negotiating issues in getting a Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal title fight over the finish line, and the UFC’s patience is beginning to wear thin. Leon Edwards would seemingly be the next most deserving after Masvidal, but travel restrictions amidst the coronavirus pandemic might rule him out of the equation, too.
That could very much open the door for Burns, who has been nothing short of brilliant in the octagon in recent years. He’s not the obvious No. 1 contender, but the Brazilian could be a benefactor of circumstance after dominating Woodley.