UFC welterweight Stephen Thompson is expected to fight Gilbert Burns at UFC 264 on July 10, 2021. The event will be headlined by the trilogy fight between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. News of Thompson vs Burns was initially reported by Brett Okamoto of ESPN. However, the UFC has not made the bout official yet.
Stephen Thompson (16-4-1 MMA, 11-4-1 UFC) is a decorated kickboxer and one of the consensus best MMA strikers of all time. Currently ranked number five in the official UFC welterweight rankings, Stephen Thompson is riding a three-fight winning streak. His last fight was a unanimous decision to win over welterweight prospect Geoff Neal in December 2020. Thompson is a two-time title challenger who gave former champion Tyron Woodley a run for his money in both fights. He holds wins over notable fighters Jorge Masvidal, Johny Hendricks, Robert Whittaker, and Rory MacDonald.
Stephen Thompson's potential opponent Gilbert Burns (19-4 MMA, 12-4 UFC) is the number two ranked UFC welterweight and a former BJJ world champion. Burns' last fight was a third-round TKO loss to reigning champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 258 in February 2021. Known for his lethal ground game and devastating knockout power, Burns was considered the last formidable challenge for Usman among the top contenders in the division.
Stephen Thompson is the only fresh challenger to Kamaru Usman
UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman (18-1 MMA, 13-0 UFC) has defeated every fighter in the top four of the welterweight division before and during his championship reign. Number three ranked Leon Edwards fell victim to Usman's dominant wrestling during their initial run in the UFC. Meanwhile, Colby Covington, Jorge Masvidal, and Gilbert Burns all failed to win the title from Kamaru Usman in their most recent fights.
Leon Edwards and Colby Covington have shown tremendous improvements in their fighting skills since losing to Kamaru Usman. UFC president Dana White recently announced Colby Covington as the next challenger for 'The Nigerian Nightmare' if the latter can get past Jorge Masvidal in the UFC 261 rematch. However, Stephen Thompson is the only streaking top-ranked welterweight contender who has never fought Usman and makes for an interesting matchup with the champ due to his unorthodox striking game. It is, however, unclear at the moment if the winner of the potential Thompson vs Burns fight will be next in line for UFC gold.