Gilbert Burns has hired two ‘secret’ Russian sparring partners to prepare for Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 273

Former UFC title challenger Gilbert Burns is the next man in line to try and derail the Khamzat Chimaev hype. The two will square off on the main card of UFC 273 next month.

It could be the toughest test of Chimaev’s career, and likewise, it wouldn’t be a walk in the park for Burns. And for his part, “Durinho” makes changes to his preparation. Burns talked about it during his recent visit to MMAFighting.com Trocação Franca Podcast.

“I had to hire two wrestlers, two very tough Russians who help me on a daily basis,” he said in Portuguese. “They asked to keep their names secret, and I had to [agree] because they show me a lot of things, change a lot of things in my game.

“I’ve always liked the one-legged [takedowns], double leg, body lock, but Russians have different details, unique handles. You’d think they’re super strong, but they’re not. They are strong, but their technique is excellent.

“There is a lot of technique with the hip, the waist, the control. They are ahead of the United States [in that aspect]. I learned a lot in this camp. And you can’t just learn defense, you also need to attack to feel it and develop your defensive skills.

Burns says he understands the request for anonymity as he was also in a similar situation when Michael Chandler fought fellow Brazilian Charles Oliveira at UFC 262 last year.

“I believe there’s more to it, they didn’t tell me, but they asked to be kept secret, and I understand them,” he said. “It’s kind of a boring situation. I was in a similar situation when I helped Michael Chandler a lot to fight Charles [Oliveira].

“I went there with Chandler, I helped him in his whole camp, I was supporting the guy. Of course, I was happy for Charles, but I was in such a horrible situation. They avoid this situation by coming anonymously.

Chimaev has been under a lot of pressure since the stellar performances he started putting on in 2020, the same year he made his UFC debut. And Burns understands why and he thinks a win could earn him another shot at welterweight gold.

“Dana White and the UFC are promoting this kid a lot,” he said. “The things that they say, ‘This kid is a killer and nobody wants to fight him’, that helps a lot. But [I’m] taking nothing away from the kid, i think he’s good as hell and very promising. I think it’s tough.

“If he wins in a fight where he’s knocked down or nearly submitted, but wins in the end, he’ll have to fight one more. If I beat him but get knocked down before I get a submission, we’ll have to fight one more.

“A lot of things can happen, so my first goal here is to train hard and get there to put in my best performance, so I’ll have all the cards on the table to try and get the belt again.”

UFC 273 takes place on April 9 in Jacksonville, Florida. The event features two title fights: a bantamweight rematch between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan in the co-main event and the featherweight championship between Alexander Volkanovski and “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung.

Milton S. Rodgers