MIAMI – Gilbert Burns feels it’s time he gets a bit choosy with the type of opposition he should face next.
The former UFC title challenger has historically welcomed all challenges regardless of their ranking, but that’s changing. Burns (20-5 MMA, 13-5 UFC) believes he’s deserving of a high profile fight for his next outing given the closely-contested, Fight of the Year candidate he put on last month against Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 273.
“I think the fight that makes sense right now would be Colby Covington or Jorge Masvidal,” Burns told MMA Junkie. “Those are the two fights that I wanted, even with all the legal things. If I have to wait, I’ll wait. I don’t care. Those are the fights that make sense and I want them.
“I don’t want to get another back-of-the-line contender. No, now I’m becoming a draw in that division. Now I’m on the cards. I’ll still fight anyone, don’t get me wrong, but you have to prove your point, that you deserve to be there right now.
“I’m putting so much work and giving opportunity to these guys, but now that’s changing a little bit and those are the two fights that I want. Colby Covington makes sense and Jorge Masvidal makes sense.”
There’s no denying “Durinho” has grown in popularity since his wild fight against Chimaev. Although he’s been a top contender for several years now, Burns feels he’s finally becoming a major player in the division in terms of popularity.
“I always wanted to be that guy and I put in a lot of work for that,” Burns said. “It finally (happened). I have to get on that wave right now and take advantage. The amount of following and love from the fans is getting crazy. The opportunities now and deals I’m getting are kind of changing and that’s going to transfer to the fight.
“My next fight I’m coming with blood in my mouth. That fight with Khamzat was so close. A lot of people saw the heart, the work, and that there’s no quit in me. I’m going to keep showing that in my next fight. With a big name, I’m going to show people what I’m capable of. And to cement my career and journey, I have to get that belt. And nothing but a big fight can get me closer to that.”