Gilbert Burns believes he ‘makes sense’ as first opponent for Dustin Poirier at welterweight

If Dustin Poirier moves to welterweight next, Gilbert Burns is throwing his name in the hat as the ideal man to welcome the former UFC interim lightweight champion to 170 pounds.

“Durinho” hopes to be cleared to train with no restrictions by September after suffering a shoulder injury during a five-round loss to Belal Muhammad in May, and feels that an early 2024 date with Poirier would be the best scenario for all parties involved.

“If you ask me which fight I wanted, it’s Dustin Poirier,” Burns said on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast. “He’s moving up and that would be a super cool fight, but everyone’s calling him out, everybody wants him, so I won’t talk too much about it. But it’s a cool fight because of his name, because he’s moving up. It makes sense for him to fight against a top-five [welterweight].”

Burns said he’s only interested in big fights for his next UFC appearance after winning two of three in 2023, having choked out Neil Magny inside one round then turned around three months later to retire Jorge Masvidal. Burns’ only setback came in a short-notice match with Muhammad, which saw him hurt his shoulder in the opening round yet still go the full 25 minutes.

“There’s no point fighting someone ranked at 13 or 14,” Burns said. “It does nothing for me now. I’m already waiting [to recover] anyway, so I’ll wait for a good fight.”

The one-time UFC welterweight title challenger said his initial plan was to angle for a rematch with ex-champion Kamaru Usman, the man he unsuccessfully challenged for UFC gold in 2021. However, he said Usman recently decided to move back to Florida to rejoin his original team over at Kill Cliff FC — the same gym Burns currently trains at.

“Kamaru is back at the gym again and that was the fight for me, but I hardly think it happens now,” Burns said. “Henry [Hooft] told me that Kamaru was coming back to train with us, that his plan was to maybe fight two or three times more and retire, that he’s at the end of his career, so there’s not much we can do. It kills one of the options I had — especially if he really is at the end of his career, this fight wouldn’t add much to him.”

Burns said he’s not interested in fighting the likes of Kelvin Gastelum because it wouldn’t draw much attention, but would probably look further down from the top five of the weight class since the top of welterweight is currently jammed up. Burns said “it doesn’t make sense” to have Colby Covington challenging 170-pound champion Leon Edwards next either. Instead, he would rather watch “a double knockout” in Covington vs. Muhammad.

“I think Leon beats both of them,” Burns said of Covington and Muhammad. “Leon will beat Colby pretty convincingly, and if Belal really is next, I do think it’s a great fight for the champion as well.”

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