Gilbert Burns' six-fight unbeaten run came to an abrupt end at the hands of former teammate and reigning welterweight champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 258. Burns lost to the Nigerian nightmare via third-round TKO after a strong start to the fight. Now that Durinho's dream of becoming UFC champion has been postponed, if not shattered, let's take a look at three potential opponents that make the most sense for his next outing in the UFC octagon.
1. The winner of Leon Edwards vs Belal Muhammad
The winner of Leon Edwards vs Belal Muhammad and Gilbert Burns has something very important to offer each other. Despite having scored many victories, both Muhammad and Edwards have never fought a big name and lack the necessary exposure required to promote a potential fight with champion Kamaru Usman. Gilbert Burns is coming off a loss in his last fight and the chances of other top contenders accepting a fight with him are less in the current scenario. If Kamaru Usman's long medical suspension withstands, fighting the winner of Edwards vs Muhammad can be a great way for Gilbert Burns to stay active without necessarily having to face up-and-coming fighters that are ranked well below him. Leon Edwards and Belal Muhammad are scheduled to fight on March 13, 2021.
2. Vicente Luque if he defeats Tyron Woodley
A difficult loss in high-profile fights can affect a fighter's confidence in unprecedented ways. Taking fights against top-ranked fighters to make another title can result in negative outcomes. Chris Weidman's losing skid after the Luke Rockhold loss is a testimony to this fact. A step down in the competition allows a fighter to regain the confidence to build himself back up. Fighting Vicente Luque, who will still be outside the top five with a potential win over Tyron Woodley, will do just that for Gilbert Burns. The fight favors Burns stylistically, as Burns has a formidable grappling background that threatens a predominantly striking arsenal of Luque. Vicente Luque is scheduled to fight Tyron Woodley at UFC 260 PPV event on March 27, 2021.
3. Colby Covington
Colby Covington could be the shortest path to another title shot for Gilbert Burns. Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal intend to fight each other next. No.1 ranked contender Colby Covington has already refused to fight Leon Edwards. If the UFC moves ahead with Usman vs Masvidal, it could potentially be late 2021 or early 2022 before another welterweight title fight gets booked. Colby Covington and Gilbert Burns are ranked next to each other in the division and waiting for an extended period of time without a fight is not feasible for Covington. Both fighters stand to gain from the matchup as a win over each other will quickly warrant another title shot, more so for Covington, who had a close fight with Kamaru Usman in 2019.