Gilbert Burns previews stacked UFC welterweight division

UFC welterweight contender Gilbert Burns gives his opinion on how the division will play out in 2023.

For four years, the UFC's undisputed welterweight king was Kumaru Usman. He reigned supreme, dispatching the finest the division had to offer, notching up with five one-sided title defenses. Imperious, the Nigerian Nightmare was beginning to lap the division.

With 55 seconds left in the final round against Leon Edwards at UFC 278, Usman was well on track to defend his throne and look down on the peasants once more. But the division's trajectory changed in a split second when Edwards produced a moment of magic, sending Usman to the shadow realm with a head kick heard around the kingdom.

Edwards' victory has thrown the division wide open, something Burns has been eagerly waiting for after getting sat down by Usman at UFC 258. But there are other protagonists around, with Belal Muhammad's eight-fight win streak fueling his increasing impatience at a lack of title shot, while perennial contender Colby Covington struts about menacingly in his perfect MAGA-facade.

Burns cannot overlook rising star Khamzat Chimaev either, as the Swede has raced to third in the welterweight rankings after six astonishing performances for the promotion, including an entertaining win over Burns.

"I don't know who will be the champion [at the end of 2023]," Burns told MMA Junkie Radio.

"We'll see what they do with Khamzat. I'm right there. Belal is right there, and we don't know what's going on with Colby.

"That's a good question. I don't know who's going to be champion. That's one thing I can't control. To be honest, for sure I want to know, but I don't really care. I want to be ready. If that fight happens or not, if these guys fight or not, I don't care. I'll be ready. I'll keep fighting and winning and whenever that's established, I'll earn myself another title shot."

While it is yet to be officially announced, UFC overlord Dana White has all but confirmed Usman v Edwards 3 for the belt. Details have not been confirmed, but the rumour mill has been hard at work pushing the idea that it will happen in front of Edwards' home crowd in the UK.

Home ground advantage, combined with his mental edge from the title-reign-ending head kick, gives Edwards the advantage, according to Burns.

"I give a little more edge to Leon just because the way he won," continued the Brazilian.

"And being at home with no elevation, not like in Salt Lake City with that elevation, yeah, I give a little bit more edge. Very close fight, but I give a little bit more edge to Leon."

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