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UFC Fight Night 90 Fighter to Watch: Gilbert Burns

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Three events made up of 35 fights, and that is before you look beyond the UFC’s output throughout International Fight Week. Every fight fans’ favourite seven days of the year is packed with so much great action that a number of talented fighters get overlooked in the build-up to the premiere celebration of all things mixed martial arts.

One such talent is three-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion Gilbert Burns, who will face Lukasz Sajewski at UFC Fight Night 90. The event is the first full UFC card of the week, taking place Thursday, July 7, and headlined by the lightweight title bout between Rafael dos Anjos and Eddie Alvarez. That main event should serve as the motivation for Burns, a fighter who might not have one eye on the 155-pound championship just yet, but who seems destined to later in his still young career.

The Brazilian grappler made the transition to MMA following his 2011 World Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Championships win. In little more than two years, he ploughed through eight opponents, building a perfect 8-0 record with none of his opponents making it out of the first round. Already earmarked as one of the sport’s most exciting prospects, Burns signed with the UFC in 2014 and made his debut against Andreas Stahl, an opponent he defeated by unanimous decision.

Three straight wins inside the octagon improved the fighter’s record to 11-0, but the step up in competition saw Burns pushed to his developing limit. Notably, against Alex Oliveira in March 2015, Burns started slowly, struggling through the first two rounds before going back to what brought him to the dance in the first place. His world-class grappling ability was the enabler as he found a fight-ending armbar with less than a minute left in the bout.

To many it sent alarm bells ringing, and tempered their opinion of Burns as a prospect. What was overlooked was the intangible refusal to know when he was beaten. It takes more than incredible technique to find a submission so late in a fight that is being lost, the ability to overcome in-fight adversity that night every bit as impressive as Burns’ performance through the first two rounds was disappointing.

With the Brazilian suffering the first defeat of his professional MMA career last time out, against Rashid Magomedov in Sao Paulo in November 2015, the fight with Sajewski on Thursday night is another opportunity for Burns to prove that he can overcome adversity and get back into the win column. That will tell us plenty about his upside as a prospect.

Prospect is a word used often in this piece and really is the key at this point. In the victory against Oliveira, and defeat against Magomedov, Burns looked like a fighter still making his way down the long path to becoming the finished article. A world class grappler with an incredible top game, who is still learning the intricacies of UFC-level striking, and developing his ability to take the fight where he wants it to go. Only four years into his professional mixed martial arts career, that’s where Burns should be.

BJJ standouts, true elite BJJ players the level of Burns before he turned to MMA, are often held to higher standards but you only have to look at the careers of Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Damien Maia to gain some perspective on how much more should be to come from the talented 29-year-old.

Four years into his pro career, Jacare was still developing his skills in Brazil. As for Maia, he went almost nine years from professional debut to challenging for the UFC middleweight title, and that at a level of all-round ability far below the one he progressed to later on in his career. Now, at 36 and 38-years-old respectively, we are seeing both compete in the best form of their careers. Neither has been any better than they are now. Neither can be ruled out as future UFC champions in their respective divisions.

The road to achieving similar levels of success continues for Burns on Thursday against Lukasz Sajewski. As a still-developing talent, improvements should be seen with each passing fight. Expect to see that manifest when the octagon door closes behind Gilbert Burns on Thursday night.

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Jake Collier Re-Signs with the UFC

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UFC light heavyweight, Jake Collier (11-4, 3-3 UFC) , took to twitter yesterday, announcing a four fight contract renewal with the promotion.

The Missouri-born, Collier, amassed a 7-1 professional record fighting exclusively in his home state. Following his next fight, a 1st round submission victory over Gabriel Checco in the RFA promotion, Collier signed with the UFC.

Originally, Collier signed as a middleweight. His promotional debut took place in December of 2014 at, UFC Fight Night 58. A bout which he lost to Vitor Miranda via TKO (Head kick and punches) with only one second remaining in the opening round.

In 2017, “The Prototype”, moved to the light heavyweight division. The move came after a three-year stint at middleweight that saw him go 2-2. Losing to the likes of Dongi Yang, while defeating Ricardo Abreu. His final fight at the lower weight earned him a performance of the night bonus in his, UFC Fight Night 88, TKO win over Alberto Uda.

Upon moving to light heavyweight, Collier has the same .500 win percentage with a record of 1-1. His debut at the weight originally scheduled him against John Stansbury. Unfortunately, Collier withdrew from the card due to injury. Devin Clark replaced him on, The Ultimate Fighter Finale: 24, and defeated John Stansbury by unanimous decision. Clark then fought Collier next, defeating him by unanimous decision. “The Prototype”s most recent bout, a victory over Marcel Fortuna in November at, UFC Fight Night 120.

According to, UFC.com, Collier is booked to fight UFC-newcomer, Marcin Prachnio at, UFC on Fox 28, in Orlando, Florida. The only bout booked to the February 24th card, of next year.

Prachnio, holds a record of 13-2, with 10 knockouts. He most recently fought for the Asian-based promotion, One Championship. The Karate practitioner comes to the UFC on an eight fight win streak, the previous four in One Championship. At twenty-nine, Prachnio is another, in his prime, European light heavyweight signed to the UFC this year (Volkan Oezdemir being the other).

 

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Chris Wade Blasts UFCs Matchmaking Process

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Chris Wade (12-3, 5-2 UFC) is not happy with Sean Shelby and Dana White. The UFC fighter took to social media to air a long-winded grievance with his employer.

Wade won his most recent bout against Frankie Perez by unanimous decision on the July 22nd card, UFC on Fox 25.

With statements like these, it seems Wade is in a peculiar position. Obviously, he lacks the good graces of the UFC. In addition, lightweight is an extremely deep division in the UFC. In reality, a long while may pass before a portion of talented fighters gain rankings. There is a massive backlog of talent in the division. Not too long ago, James Vick was in the same position.

The Texas native earned a record of 8-1 before being awarded the #14 ranking. It took three consecutive finishes to get him there. Finishes over Joe Duffy, Marco Polo Reyes and Abel Trujillo. Vick not only had to flash inside the cage but also, make his voice heard.

Wade is in a similar position but, not an identical one. James Vick was a guy whom a lot of people were keeping an eye on. Even before the “Texacutioner”, made his case against the rankings clear, talk spread about his skills. Unfortunately, the same can not be said of Chris Wade. His record of 5-2, is very respectable. Yet, the reasons why he sits unranked and a fighter like Vick does not, are more than numbers.

Losses to Rustam Khabilov and Islam Makhachev are certainly a factor in this equation. Makhachev and Khabilov are two more lightweights who could have the same grievance as Wade. Especially Khabilov, whom currently rides a five-fight win streak. Wade would garner greater footing in his division with high stakes match up.

The New Yorker does not look to be in the position of picking fights. Yet, the only way to advance in the one hundred and fifty-five-pound division is beating prospects. Not necessarily young fighters but, unranked fighters who have developed a profile within the MMA community. Lando Vannata is one of a few whom fit the description.

Although Vannata’s UFC record shows mixed success, his potential is well-known. His record, 1-2-1, includes a lost bout taken on short notice against, current, interim Lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson.

This fight would be an ideal matchup for Wade. The hype behind Vannata is growing, and his exciting style will draw an increasing amount of eyes every time he enters the octagon. Assuming Wade’s statements on social media are true, and he is on thin ice with management, he needs those eyes.

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Can Darren Till fill Michael Bisping’s role of being the UK’s MMA golden boy?

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After his explosive TKO finish of UFC legend Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone at UFC Gdansk, Darren Till is the name on everyone’s lips.

Am I surprised? Absolutely not. Prior to the fight Till had 15 professional MMA wins to his name and 44 kickboxing wins. And although he was relatively unknown to some, there is no denying the talent the Liverpudlian has, in fact, he oozes class.

The UK MMA community is buzzing with the level their homegrown talent is performing at and there have already been calls to have Till main event a UFC fight night in his home town of Liverpool. With rumours circulating that Michael Bisping could soon retire, could Till be the man to fill his boots when it comes to being the poster boy for British MMA?

Next stop Echo Arena Liverpool ? 👀 @danawhite @ufc 🦍

A post shared by Till (@darrentill2) on

It’s no secret that Bisping is brilliant at marketing himself, but at times his nationality and popularity in the UK alone would be enough to sell out any arena in the UK.

But with Bisping currently holding the middleweight title, he has many PPV match ups and big fights in the US ahead before his impending retirement.

That leaves a big question mark over the future of the UFC in the UK. After all, 3 out of 4 of Bisping’s most recent main event fights have been in the UK and have all pulled in impressive ticket sales with very flattering gate numbers. 9 of Bisping’s 27 UFC fights have taken place on this side of the pond, showing how valuable he has been in selling tickets and growing the sport in the UK.

With the sport growing rapidly in the UK & Ireland thanks to a certain charismatic Irishman, the UFC must keep up this momentum by putting on solid cards with good main event fights and local talent.

With Marc Diakese, Jimi Manuwa and Gunnar Nelson all losing in their last fights respectively we are unlikely to see them main event a UK event for sometime.

So who’s better to trust than the man who just demolished Cerrone in one round? With Dana White calling Till the “the future” then surely he must be the future of UK MMA and the man to step in ready to fill Bisping’s boots when he eventually throws in the towel on his remarkable career.

He is perfect to become the next face of UK MMA, he has the back story, the physical attributes and most importantly the talent.

Who knows maybe it could be Darren Till vs Mike Perry in early 2018, to start his reign as the new boss of UK MMA. But one things for sure, he’s certainly capable of filling Michael Bisping’s role as the UK’s primary main event star.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know your thoughts below!

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