LOS ANGELES • Combat sport returned to Las Vegas on Saturday, showcasing two fighters with differing fortunes.
But the opponent he beat in the main event of the closed-door UFC Fight Night event, Tyron Woodley, appears to be on the slide after suffering his second consecutive loss.
The utterly dominant unanimous decision victory by Burns immediately sparked rumours that Woodley would retire, but the 38-year-old, who lost his belt to Usman in March last year, still feels he can compete in the octagon.
He said in an Instagram Live video: “I gotta say, you can’t just get in the camera when you win. You gotta get on the camera when you lose, too. I felt good. I have no excuse, I trained hard. And I was in great shape. I felt like I did everything right. Everything felt right, from the walkout to the stretch. Every single thing about the fight.
“I got a weird peace for someone that just got their a** whooped. At the end of the day, it wasn’t a situation like the Usman fight, where I felt I wasn’t there. I was there, I was present… I just couldn’t get my hands on him (Burns).”
But analysts and his fellow mixed martial arts fighters believe he is finished at the top level, with ESPN personality Skip Bayless tweeting “his greatness remains in the past”.
Burns, however, has no such issues even though he admitted it would be “weird” to fight Usman, who he considers a friend as they both train at the same gym, Sanford MMA in Deerfield Beach, Florida.
On possibly facing the Nigerian-American, the Brazilian said: “I like the guy a lot. He motivated me a lot when he became champion and I saw him come from zero.
“And we always like to work together because I have the jiu-jitsu and he has the wrestling. So I don’t know… but I want to fight for the title and he’s the champion.
“That’s the only reason I would call for this fight because else it wouldn’t make sense.
“I made a statement, to beat the former champ the way I beat him, and being the underdog and people saying, “Oh if Woodley shows up”, and he said he was motivated, he was violent, he was this and that, and I just showed up. This was my best performance yet.”
The Nevada Athletic Commission last week not only gave the green light for the UFC to stage its fights in the state but also to boxing cards this month, more than two months after sporting activities were put on hold owing to the coronavirus pandemic.