Gilbert Burns calls Kamaru Usman welterweight GOAT, says wrestling and striking superior to Georges St-Pierre’s

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kamaru usman
Nov 6, 2021; New York, NY, USA; Kamaru Usman (red gloves) leaves the octagon with his championship belt after defeating Colby Covington (blue gloves) during UFC 268 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

If Gilbert Burns was picking the best welterweight the UFC has ever seen, his response would be easy. It’s current UFC 170-pound king Kamaru Usman.

Burns (20-4) and Usman (20-1) have a long history after becoming teammates and friends at Sanford MMA. And their evolution into becoming two of the best welterweights in the world — they are first and third on the UFC welterweight rankings — was a shared experience as their training sessions only made them better fighters during those years.

However, they also have a history inside the Octagon. The eventuality of them facing off for welterweight gold precipitated “The Nigerian Nightmare’s” switch in gym to Elevation Fight Team, and that decision was a boon for the 34-year-old, as he used the sharpened tools from his new training home to beat “Durinho” by technical knockout in their UFC 258 bout in February.

Gilbert Burns calls Kamaru Usman the welterweight GOAT

kamaru usamn
Credit: Jason Burgos

The Brazilian has the sort of in-depth knowledge of Usman that few have, and that is why he feels his one-time opponent is the best 170-pound fighter to ever grace an Octagon. For much of the last decade, fans, fighters, and media would automatically proclaim two-time welterweight king Georges St-Pierre as the division’s greatest. However, it seems Burns believes Usman’s performances during his 15-fight run in the UFC have separated him enough from “GSP” that the debate is nearly over.

“The way he’s dominating is way more appealing than St-Pierre’s way. St-Pierre took people down and did ground and pound, it wasn’t such convincing victory sometimes, and Kamaru is winning way more convincingly. He’s already the best in my opinion, but I think he’s still missing more title defenses to end the conversation,” Burns said on MMAFighting’s Portuguese-language podcast.

“I tried to take him down and couldn’t, Colby [Covington] tried to take him down and couldn’t, many others tried but it’s really hard to take him down,” he continued. “I remember landing some hard shots on Kamaru, really hard ones, feeling my hand landing flush on his head, and he kept going. I remember one head kick I landed flush, I had a bump on my shin afterward, and he kept going. I think his striking is superior to St-Pierre’s. Kamaru is on another level in wrestling, too. I think that both in their prime, I’d bet on Kamaru.”

Georges St-Pierre and Usman are similar, but very different

During his Hall-of-Fame run in the UFC, St-Pierre (26-2) beat five former and eventual welterweight champions — including BJ Penn, Johnny Hendricks, and Matt Hughes — as well as Strikeforce and WEC titlists Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit. Just 54% of his 26 career wins came within the distance.

As for Usman, he has beaten only three former UFC titlists in Tyron Woodley, Colby Covington, and Rafael Dos Anjos (lightweight champion), and has scored finished in just 50% of his 20 career victories.

Although some of those numbers are fairly similar and give credence to the notion “Rush” is still the division GOAT, much of the latter half of the French-Canadians wins did come by decision. As his competition was championship level in each and every outing. On the other hand, The current welterweight king has evolved into a far more dangerous fighter in his recent title defenses. Scoring finishes in three of his last five championship bouts.

St-Pierre was the Kyokushin Karate stylist who grew into a dominant wrestler. Usman’s career has gone the opposite way as the once-dominant wrestler has become a problem on the feet for many of his opponents.

Who do you feel is the best welterweight to have ever done it?

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