Soon to be opponents Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns were once sparring partners. The two will go up against each other on February 13.
Gilbert Burns Vs. Kamaru Usman is the main event of the upcoming pay-per-view UFC 258. The fight was supposed to take place at UFC 251 and then UFC 256 but, both times it fell apart. Now, giving light to the popular saying that the third time is a charm, the two Welterweights have initiated their respective training camps and in two weeks the prolonged contest will finally have an eventual winner.
While in the camp they would train to get the better of each other, there once was a time when they used to train to make each other better. Back in 2012, the two started training together and are apparently accustomed to each other’s fight styles.
Gilbert Burns reflects on the time when he and Kamaru Usman trained together
In an interview with MMA Junkie, Gilbert Burns reflected on the time the Welterweight champ and the current No.1 contender used to be in the same team and had a frequent sparring session with each other.
“Me and Kamaru had over 200 rounds sparring, at least,” Burns said. “We started training together in 2012 in Blackzillians. Then Blackzillians broke down, they disappeared, so we moved with Henri Hooft. We went to a place called Combat Club. Then we were there for almost a year, and then we opened up the Hard Knocks. We were at Hard Knocks for two years. Then we moved to Sanford MMA and then we been in Sanford for a total of two years. So I’ve trained with Kamaru for seven years and we both love to train.
“He was a good training partner for me and I was good partner for him. Just sparring sessions, over 200. And just the grappling sessions, plus the wrestling sessions, for sure I have so many hours on the mat with Kamaru. We know each other very well.”
At UFC 258, Kamaru Usman will enter as the favorite, however, Burns makes it known that it will be an even contest as he knows how to beat the Nigerian Nightmare.
“It was hard work for both,” Burns said. “He beat me up a couple of times; I beat him up a couple of times. It was very competitive, especially when I went up to 170. I think I was always a natural welterweight, but as soon as I moved up (from 155 pounds), I got a little bigger and then I felt even better with all the welterweights at the gym.
“But it was always good work. Kamaru was always a guy that if I saw that he was available, I was always looking to drill or to train and with him. We helped each other a lot.”
No bad blood
On February 13, the stakes will be high as the Welterweight title will be on the line, therefore an attempt could be made from either side to gain a psychological advantage but, a heated build-up will not be there to witness, as there is mutual respect between the two competitors.
“I have so much respect for Kamaru,” Burns said. “I like him a lot and it’s going to be a competition. No bad blood, nothing. I have nothing against him. He’s been a great champion, a good teammate. We were never close friends, we never texted each other or anything, it was always about fighting.”
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