Gilbert Burns thinks teammate Ian Machado Garry is deserving of the nickname “The Future.”
At UFC 292, Garry dominated veteran Neil Magny, a former “Durinho” opponent, for 15 minutes to improve to 6-0 under the company’s banner, cementing his position as a soon-to-be contender at 170 pounds.
Burns, a former welterweight title challenger and current top-five fighter in the weight class, recently discussed Garry’s standing among the next crop of rising welterweights while on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast.
“I think so — in a few years, yes,” Burns said when asked if he sees Garry holding the UFC welterweight title one day. “He’s a great kid, 25 years old. This kid is a badass. Before the fight, he said he would do all that — he pretty much called the entire fight beforehand, and pulled it off.”
Burns is currently rehabbing a shoulder injury he suffered in his five-round fight with Belal Muhammad in May, a bout that went down less than one month after Burns’ win over Jorge Masvidal. He expects to return to action in early 2024, and sees plenty of rising young names who will be future threats to the division.
“I think Shavkat [Rakhmonov] is really good, too,” Burns said. “There’s also Jack Della Maddalena, a tough kid who’s coming up. There’s this Venezuelan kid, Michael Morales, an undefeated kid. Gabriel Bonfim too, a nasty kid. There’s new blood coming. [Stephen Thompson] ‘Wonderboy’ needs to pay attention, older fighters need to pay attention. Neil Magny just lost badly. They need to reinvent themselves otherwise it won’t be good for them, brother.”
Rakhmonov (17-0) finished five in a row since joining the UFC, most recently with a standing choke on Geoff Neal. Maddalena (15-2) is perfect so far in the UFC with five victories, and returns on Sept. 16 versus Kevin Holland. Bonfim and Morales, two talents signed through Dana White’s Contender Series, are both 15-0 in MMA. Bonfim scored two first-round guillotine chokes so far in the UFC, while Morales stopped two opponents before clinching a decision over Max Griffin this past July.
Burns is older than Magny at 37, but feels his mindset is different than other top-ranked welterweights.
“Thank God I didn’t have as many surgeries,” Burns said. “‘Wonderboy,’ it feels like he has surgery every time he fights. He’s all broken. I’ve been knocked out, TKO’d, knocked down, but there were many fights where I wasn’t any [of those]. I have good jiu-jitsu and I can use that too. I’m healthy, I’m fine, and I’m hungry to fight. I’ll only leave [MMA] if I lose three or four in a row and badly, getting knocked out. Then, I’m out. But I’m fighting. If I’m still doing it, I’ll keep doing it for years.
“I train with all of those guys. I just trained with Kamaru [Usman], and did some positions with Ian Garry. When Shavkat and all of these guys come here, I train with all of them. I can fight at the highest level. When I start getting smashed and no longer enjoying training, when I’m too tired for this, then it’s time. But I’m hungry to train now, man. I’m like a maniac now for not being able to train because of my shoulder.”
“I still got a few years left in me, you know?” he added. “‘Wonderboy’ did karate his entire life and he’s 42, five years older than me. Neil Magny was never this badass. I think I’m a level above these guys, both physically and mentally. [Daniel Cormier] fought to his 40s, but Glover [Teixeira] is No. 1. He fought well and became champion at 42. [Alex Pereira] ‘Poatan’ too, fighting well at 36. I’m confident that I still have a lot left in me. I’m not saying five more years, and I don’t even want that — [my wife] would kill me. But two or three years more, I have that.”