If you ever had to miss school because you were sick, only to return to school to find out the best day ever had taken place in your absence, you’d have to multiply that feeling by 1,000 to start to understand how Burns felt watching Jorge Masvidal replace him for the welterweight championship bout on last year’s UFC 251 card on Fight Island. After grinding his way towards the ultimate opportunity since 2014, COVID-19 forced the Brazilian and some of his teammates to the sidelines in the 11th hour. Like the rest of the world, all Burns could do was watch.
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“That was a good performance,” he says plainly. “Short notice for both guys, six days. He (Usman) did what he had to do. He don’t have the striking that Masvidal has. He was disciplined in that fight, took him down, made it boring. He can do that. He has the ability to shut those guys down. It was a good performance. I’m not going to lie.”
With Masvidal calling out names that weren’t Burns in the event he won the title, and hot upstart Khamzat Chimaev seemingly on everyone’s lips, “Durinho,” by his own admission, was nervous that his golden opportunity might evaporate. But Usman prevailed, Chimaev got paired with Leon Edwards, and Burns’ temporary despair turned into renewed motivation. In fact, the delay in the proceedings turned into a true silver lining.