Gilbert Burns set up a grappling showcase to slow down Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson’s gripping play to win a unanimous decision in the UFC 264 main co-event.
With just one fight away from the UFC welterweight title competition, Burns was smart and tactical with his game plan on Saturday night as he repeatedly knocked Thompson down and played him in defense for cancel his versatile strike attack. In the end, the judges all scored the bout 29-28 with Burns taking the win.
“Sorry guys. Every time I walk here I try to get there, ”Burns told a noisy Las Vegas crowd. “Boo, I don’t care. I need more! Boo! Two checks, baby. The dream is still alive. I want to get this title.
Rather than playing with Thompson on the outside, Burns was quick to seek the takedown which then led to a clinch battle against the cage. Thompson displayed strong ground defense, but in a scramble Burns eventually managed to knock him to the ground.
From there, Burns was methodical with his keen sense of wrestling as he sought to advance his position and destroy Thompson’s defense. While Thompson was finally able to get back on his feet, Burns knocked him out with several quick, hard punches in a row.
In an effort to evade that same strategy in the future, Thompson was much more active to start the second round as he began to throw more kicks to get Burns away from him. Thompson went to the body then connected with a heel kick that cut Burns even as he raised his hands to block it.
Just before the turn ended, Burns managed to get a takedown and do some damage with a few hard hits just before the horn sounded.
With five minutes remaining, Thompson was on the attack, hitting Burns with a hard right hand that put the Brazilian on his heels. Thompson followed that up with another spinning heel kick that blew Burns up and momentarily dropped him onto the canvas.
It wasn’t long before Burns got back to his feet and then got back to his grappling hook as he rushed to hang on to a teardown to bring Thompson back to the canvas again. Once the fight hit the ground, Burns maintained control while throwing punches until the time ran out.
While Thompson definitely had his moments, Burns’ ability to drag him across the mat and dominate wrestling trades ultimately won him the decision. Now back in the win column, Burns takes a look at several potential opponents as he looks to get back into the title race.
“Anyone can get it,” Burns shouted. “Jorge [Masvidal] if you want it, come and take it. Nate [Diaz], let’s see who the real gangster is. Leon [Edwards] you can also take it.