The jam-packed welterweight division just got a lot more interesting. Two top welterweight contenders in Thompson and Burns are set to throw down on July 10. These two men are looking to separate themselves from the pack at 170, and it should be a fantastic fight.
Stephen Thompson vs. Gilbert Burns to Show True Contenders at 170
Fifth-ranked Stephen Thompson (16-4-1 11-4-1 UFC) is coming off a dominant decision win against Geoff Neal in December where he dismantled the rising star on the feet for 5 straight rounds. Thompson has been campaigning for a title shot for a while now, and it makes sense, champion Kamaru Usman has no one left to fight if Colby Covington keeps turning him down.
Gilbert Burns (19-4-0 12-4-0 UFC) suffered a loss to his former teammate Usman in their title fight at UFC 258 in the third round after Usman knocked him out cold. The former lightweight looks to bounce back and continue his hot streak where he defeated big names like Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley.
Cooper’s Keys to the Fight: Stephen Thompson vs. Gilbert Burns Edition
Stephen Thompson looks to have a strong start against Gilbert Burns, and he will need to keep the fight at range to get the win. Thompson has 5 KO wins to his credit, and remains one of the best strikers at 170, if not the entire UFC. He will look to pick Burns apart from a distance, as his Brazilian opponent possesses one-shot KO power. Thompson should have a decent chance in this fight, as his methodical and precise style can cause problems for Burns.
Gilbert Burns has two ways to win the fight. He can either get a quick KO or take it to the ground. Burns has 4 submission wins, and he is ridiculously strong. The BJJ black belt looks to utilize his superb ground game, as he is one of the best grapplers in the entire division. He almost submitted BJJ legend Demian Maia via armbar, but he did knock him out. Regardless, Stephen Thompson vs. Gilbert Burns looks to be a fantastic fight that could shape the welterweight division for years to come.
Matchmaking the “Battle of the NMFs”
For the winner of Stephen Thompson vs. Gilbert Burns, a title shot or a number-one contender fight with Colby Covington has to be next. Thompson has been methodically working his way back up the 170-pound rankings since his consecutive losses to Anthony Pettis and Darren Till, and he has been calling to fight everyone from Khamzat Chimaev to Leon Edwards. He has been denied his opportunity until now, though. For Burns, the Covington fight makes even more sense, as it is a fantastic stylistic matchup between the two grapplers.
For the loser, a top-ten welterweight bout seems to be in order. Names such as Michael Chiesa come to mind, as Chiesa is coming off a win against Neil Magny and looks to cement his place as one of the top welterweights in the UFC. Plus, it would provide an interesting stylistic clash for either Burns or Thompson, as Chiesa’s gritty clinchwork and BJJ can cause major problems for any man at 170.
Stephen Thompson vs. Gilbert Burns is going to be a banger of a fight, and it will come on a stacked card that sees the return of “The Notorious” Conor McGregor and Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier as they complete their trilogy.
How do you see the Stephen Thompson vs. Gilbert Burns fight playing out? Let me know in the comments!