Gilbert Burns Explains How Alex Volkanovski Is Making ‘Same Mistake’ At UFC 298, Why He Favors Ilia Topuria

Burns talks about the mental aspect that he thinks is very present in Volkanovski vs. Topuria.

Burns Ufc 298
(via @ufc - Instagram, Bisping's YouTube channel)

Gilbert Burns isn’t liking what he’s seeing from Alexander Volkanovski

The UFC Featherweight Champion returns to 145lbs following a knockout loss to lightweight champ Islam Makhachev in October.  Volkanovski’s next title defense comes against undefeated top contender Ilia Topuria. Neither man has lost at the weight class and stylistically, the fight is turning out to be one of the most highly-anticipated fights of the year. 

‘I Like The Motivation For Topuria Better’

Volkanovski holds the longest reign as a current champion and it’s not too surprising that the seasoned vet stands as a slight favorite over ‘El Matador’. However, the younger Topuria who couldn’t be more hungry to become Spain’s first UFC Champion.

Former title challenger Burns believes this will make all the difference for Topuria in their high-stakes matchup.

“I like both guys, to be honest,” Burns told Michael Bisping. “Topuria came, he did a camp here. He’s a monster. That guy, he’s a great grappler, great striking, great wrestler, too. Good takedown defense, good takedown offense. He knocked a couple guys down, like he’s that good. He’s very, very good. Nice guy too, though.

“I like Volkanovski a lot, too. Monster. I just don’t like what he was saying. I don’t like the motivation to the fight. If you ever fight, you have a little motivation, you wanna become a champion. I like the motivation for Topuria better now. Now he wants to become a champion. He believe he’s gonna be the champion.”

Burns Says Volkanovski Is Still Making ‘The Same Mistake’ As He Did vs. Makhachev

Coming off a devastating, short-notice loss his last time out, Burns believes Volkanovski should have taken his time since then to really work on himself. ‘Durinho’ says there’s still mental hurdles that the champion needs to clear before fighting again. Volkanovski was vocal on these very issues post-fight at UFC 294

“I just saw little things from Volkanovski, ‘Oh, I got a fight on short notice because I have to fight’. Meaning like, ‘I had a little mental issue when I don’t have a date, when I don’t have a fight’. And then he got a fight on short notice, then he got knocked out. So I think my opinion, I’m not judging, just my opinion. So, he got a fight on short notice, right? End up losing and you gotta fight a short notice. I got fight short notice you become a champion frigging short notice. But, even better, sometimes it’s a good decision.

“Sometimes your body feels good. Sometimes you don’t regret. Like, man, that was a good thing. But sometimes it’s not,” Burns added. “It’s not every time that you get fight on short notice that means things going your way. I just think he made a mistake because he just lost the guy in short notice, higher weight cut. He said he was drinking the whole week. So, obviously it wasn’t a good decision.

Burns says ‘The Great’ isn’t doing what needs to be done to fix his problems and that he’s rushing his return instead. 

“So now if I just made a mistake, if I made a bad decision, now I gotta make a good decision, right? So, I gotta try to fix what I did wrong and he’s still trying to know. But, now I gotta write the wrong. [Volkanovski’s like] ‘Okay, I need to fight again, need another date’… bro, you still doing the same mistake. Relax. Freaking concussion protocol. How long is that? It’s different to everybody.

“So with that being said, because that he’s hurrying, he pushing, he trying to prove something. I don’t like that motivation. I got Topuria winning. Nothing personal because I do like both guys a lot. But that motivation from Topuria, I don’t know, I think it’s a little bit better.”

Fixing The Problem

The Brazilian nudges Volkanovski to keep his ego in check and to ‘solve the problem’ a day out from the title fight. Regardless of his advice, Burns likes Topuria’s chances to ultimately pull off the upset over the champion in Anaheim.

“I would not say mental weakness, but I would say it’s a little bit his ego trying to… that ego gotta be in control,” Burns said of Volkanovski. “Even that freaking ego that we do have, that we wanna compete, sometimes it’s gotta be on check. Especially [since] he’s a freaking champion of the world. Mostly have nothing to prove you lost on a couple weeks notice. No problem. My guy, take your time. Relax, get better. ‘Oh, I have a problem, if I don’t have a date’, work on that problem. Solve the problem. Fix the problem, then come back, relax. The world’s not gonna [end]… relax. So, I don’t like that.

“I still like the guy a lot and I hope he does a good job,” Burns said. “I don’t bet, too, but if I was betting, I’ll put money on Topuria because I think that motivation to become a champion [is better].”

Do you agree with Gilbert Burns’ prediction that we’ll hear ‘And New’ at UFC 298?

Published on February 16, 2024 at 11:48 am
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