UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson 3 – Idiot’s Guide Preview to Gilbert Burns vs Rashid Magomedov

Two really solid lightweight prospects look to ascend the LW ranks this November 7, 2015 at the Ginásio do Ibirapuera in São Paulo, Brazil.…

By: David Castillo | 8 years ago
UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson 3 – Idiot’s Guide Preview to Gilbert Burns vs Rashid Magomedov
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Two really solid lightweight prospects look to ascend the LW ranks this November 7, 2015 at the Ginásio do Ibirapuera in São Paulo, Brazil.

The Match Up

Lightweight Gilbert Burns 10-0 vs. Rashid Magomedov 19-1

The Odds

Lightweight Gilbert Burns +150 vs. Rashid Magomedov -150

3 Things You Should Know.

1. Reebok may not know how to spell his first name, but they know they’ll be signing bigger checks for him in the future.

Burns is the rare submission grappler making good on the efficiency of the Gracie arts in the modern age. He’s looking sharp too, if his Road to series is any indication:

Burns is 3-0 in the UFC and looking like every bit the prospect he’s been touted as. He hasn’t had a chance to really sing against solid opposition, but he’s doing what needs to be done against inferior competition. His opponent, however, ain’t no Do Nothing Prospect.

2. Anyone with a Valar Morghulis attitude that isn’t meant ironically who also fights in a cage for a living is not someone here just to collect a paycheck and be a sports fan’s monkey.

Chances are, Burns will not take too kindly to a fighter once nicknamed the “Brazilian Killer” (isn’t this sport macho enough?). And chances are, Rashid doesn’t care. Rashid is also 3-0 in the UFC. Like Burns, he’s an older fighter, but like Burns, their age has nothing to do with their development. Both guys are in elite shape, with elite sets of skills. Get your popcorn ready.

3. This is one of the best fights on paper this year. Simple as that.

I don’t know what the Valyrian translation for ‘every prospect must lose’, but that will be the unfortunate fate for at least one fighter.

First off, a fight philosophy rant. People often talk about the ‘death of grappling’. True, submissions have gradually gone down from 2006 to 2014 (from a 32% finishing rate to 15%). But submissions are a byproduct of grappling just as knockouts are a byproduct of boxing/kickboxing. Yet who is dumb enough to call for the ‘death of striking’ just because knockouts have gone down? What has happened is that grappling has evolved within the sport to be less about high wire finish attempts, and more about positional pressure. Daniel Cormier is a perfect example of a fighter using Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques to generate peripheral offense (like ground and pound) that is nonetheless directly linked to grappling acumen.

Anyway, most of us know this, but I mention this because Burns is sometimes lumped into some Paul Sass like category of a fighter being outmoded for being a specialist in a dying art. Which is obvious nonsense. Burns has a high finishing rate because he’s not constantly looking for the submission finish. This is why fighters like Sass, Hazelett, and Kitaoka end up staring at the bright lights wearing a bib when they make mistakes. Burns finds the finish, but he’s always looking for the position that creates the most pressure first.

The first and biggest difference between Burns and other grappling-centric prospects is the speed with which he passes guard.

Instead of making tic tac toe cuts, he swivels a lot, sometimes passing in one smooth motion rather than a bunch of choppy ones.

His striking is good too; nothing overtly fantastic but a quick release with his left, and his leg kicks. Rashid will be looking to keep this fight on the feet for obvious reasons. If he does that, he could very well take this bout.

Rashid, like a lot of his fellow Dagestani noblemen, favors those quick release strikes. Most of them throw overhand rights like fastballs, and Rashid is no different. I think the best part of his game comes from the offense he creates with his feet; he looks a lot like Anthony Johnson at times, able to switch hit with equal velocity for maximum impact.

When you see guys with sick power, but who don’t have as many knockouts as you’d expect, it usually means either a) they’ve had a tough strength of schedule, or b) they head hunt too much. Rashid head hunts a little too much, which ends up playing the dual role of opening him up to counterattacks. Burns still needs experience on the feet, which is his biggest weakness.


I like Burns in this one because Rashid can only win if he’s active enough. But the more active he is, the more susceptible he is to Burns’ takedowns. For that reason, I’ve got Gilbert Burns by RNC, round 2.

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David Castillo
David Castillo

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