Gilbert Burns expects Khamzat Chimaev to return to 170 after 185 stint: ‘He’s going to see he’s not the bully’

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – Gilbert Burns thinks Khamzat Chimaev will remain a fixture of the UFC’s welterweight division.

The former title challenger and seasoned contender thinks fans haven’t seen the last of Chimaev at 170 pounds, despite recent comments from UFC president Dana White that Chimaev is moving up to middleweight.

Burns (20-5 MMA, 13-5 UFC) thinks Chimaev will lose key advantages when facing the elite a weight class above, which will make him reconsider his decision.

“He is very big, and he’s going to do whatever he wants to do,” Burns told MMA Junkie in Spanish. “I like him. He’s a great fighter. He fights very well – but talks a lot. If he’s going to middleweight, then let’s see it. When he first started, he was like, ‘Oh, I’ll fight every weekend against anyone. I’m hungry.’ Now he doesn’t fight and months go by. So if you’re going to move up in weight, then move up in weight. He talks a lot. I think after we fought, he changed his line of thinking.

“I think at middleweight he’ll do well, but those guys are big, like (Paulo) Costa, ‘Poatan’ (Alex Pereira), (Robert) Whittaker. Those are all very good. I think he returns to welterweight eventually. I think he does one or two, but then he’s going to see he’s not the bully, the biggest guy. I think after that, he returns to the weight class.”

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Burns is getting ready to return to the cage for the second time in 2023. He’ll take on Jorge Masvidal in the co-main event of UFC 287 on April 8 in Miami. This is also his third fight since going the distance against Chimaev in an all-out war at UFC 273 in April 2022.

Although he lost to Chimaev, Burns sees the fight as a turning point of his career – at least in the public’s eyes.

“I always knew I had the heart, but I think with that fight fans were able to see, ‘Oh, that guy has heart. That guy has balls. He can fight,'” Burns said. “Things change a lot. Fans changed a lot. To this day, people approach me saying, ‘I was in there in Jacksonville.’ So yeah, it changed a lot. That’s what I always say: I’m here to fight anyone, and I think fans are giving me credit for that. That’s what’s changed.”

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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie