UFC 273 Paths to Victory: Gilbert Burns vs. Khamzat Chimaev


This weekend, UFC 273 takes place at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., and features two title fights. In the main event, UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski looks to continue his incredible run by defeating a legend of the game, “The Korean Zombie,” Chan Sung Jung. In the co-main event, bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling and interim champion Petr Yan will finally settle their grudge match from UFC 259 and determine who truly is the best bantamweight on the planet.

Despite the title fights, the main welterweight bout between Gilbert Burns a rising star Khamzat Chimiaev . is undoubtedly the most anticipated. Given this is the fight that has the most people talking, let’s take a look at what each man needs to do to get the win, any X-factors that might be in play, and what we ultimately think will happen.


Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Paths to Victory for Burns at UFC 273

Burns, the No. 4 welterweight in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings — is the much more accomplished fighter, he’s coming into this contest as a substantial betting underdog — currently +400 on DraftKings — and there’s a reason for that: this is a brutal style matchup.

Burns, a highly decorated BJJ player who is also an average striker and a good striker, however, he is an undersized welterweight wrestler and has not the greatest wrestling skills. Burns is severely limited by the physical dominance of Chimaev as a wrestler. He’s not likely to be able out-wrestle Chimaev despite his wrestling skills. The grappling will be done on Chimaev terms, which aren’t very favorable. Burns will need to use his speed to win.

*]While undersized fighters have some drawbacks, they are generally faster than their opponents. Chimaev, who also competes at middleweight and probably will find himself at 205 before his career is done, is not particularly slow. But he’s giving up a decided edge in quickness to Burns, and Burns is going to need to lean on that.

Burns has solid footwork and fast hands, and that was almost enough to wrest the title away from Kamaru Usman. Burns could do something like this. Getting cornered or engaging in a tie-up is a death sentence, so Burns needs to keep his distance early, work long range attacks like jabs and calf kicks, and then look to explode when the opportunity presents itself and test the chin of Chimaev. “Borz” has barely been hit in his entire career, and Burns has the speed and power to put nearly any welterweight down if he lands cleanly.


Zuffa LLC

Paths to victory for Chimaev at UFC 273

Since he’s a big favorite, Chimaev won’t need to do anything different to win the Saturday race. Just go ahead and smash .”


Chimaev has proven to be an absolutely dominant physical force, and Saturday, he will be fighting arguably the smallest opponent he has ever faced. It is possible to use his strength to overwhelm Burns in a way that is as easy and effective as it can be. Burns, who is BJJ World Champion and a dangerous grappler is less intimidating than others and will not be able generate any offense if Chimaev knocks him to the ground and begins to bang his head in.

Getting to the floor is the bigger concern for Chimaev. We don’t know much about him, but we do know that he is an excellent boxer and could win a tough fight here due to his power and length. But Burns is faster, and that speed could render a major upset.

Chimaev should look to pressure Burns back and cut off the cage, forcing tie-ups when Burns gets his back to the fence. He can also work behind the fence and time takedowns/clinches if Burns attempts to get close. It doesn’t matter what, Chimaev is going to be killed.


In this fight and every Chimaev bout — until we get an answer — the X factor will be “just how great is he?” Chimaev has rolled through everyone he’s faced with laughable ease, and while that tells us that he is extremely physically gifted, that sort of dominance leaves many questions unanswered. This is a lot like Francis Ngannou’s dominance in heavyweight, where he knocked out everyone within the first round. We knew he hit hard, and that was about it. Only over time, as more people have put up more resistance, have we really started to see the depths of Ngannou’s game, and Chimaev is in the same boat. Is he a strong chin? Can he fight off his back? Does his cardio hold up in a competitive bout? If he can’t succeed with Plan A, does he have a Plan B? Is he able to overcome adversity The answers to all of those questions are probably “yes,” but until we actually see them, we have no idea.

Who will win?

Once every few years, a fighter comes along who is clearly something special. Fighters like B.J. Penn, Jon Jones, Cain Velasquez, and Khabib Nurmagomedov, who enter into the game and are so remarkable that it looks like they’re competing in a different sport. Khamzat Chimiev is one such guy. I don’t know when it will happen (Usman is a tough fight), or how long it will last (look at Velasquez), but I know beyond a doubt that Chimaev is going to hold a UFC title some day. It’s simply undeniable. And Burns is the next step on that path.

Khamzat Chimaev by TKO, Round 2.