Herbert Burns is chomping at the bit to return to the Octagon at UFC Long Island.
July 16 marks the date that ‘Blaze’, the younger sibling of UFC welterweight Gilbert Burns, is set to make his comeback after a two-year absence from competition, spurred on by a hellacious knee injury in 2021.
In his return, the Brazilian will face the undefeated prospect, Khusein Askhabov, out of Chechnya – unfortunately not the kind of prominent name-value opponent he was hoping for. Still, the featherweight pairing is far from a soft re-entry into the promotion; and for Burns, all roads lead to Rome.
“I was expecting someone like [Alex] Caceres, Ryan Hall – something like that. Someone with a more recognizable name,” he told The AllStar of his initial reaction to the booking. “But I want to be the champion, so I don’t care for the name of the victim.”
In this case, ‘the victim’, Askhabov, makes his UFC debut sporting one of the longest active winning streaks outside of the promotion in recent times, is recognized as a former Combat Sambo champion, and won the 2014 North American Grappling Association featherweight Tournament. A long list of accolades to be sure – however, the Brazilian isn’t convinced that the Chechen is ready to compete on his level.
While admitting that Askhabov is “definitely talented,” Burns pointed to the experience level of his dance partner’s past opposition and inferred that he’s not faced elite competition to this point.
“It’s hard to see, like, how good he is – because I don’t think he’s faced world-class competition. [That’s] Just what I think… I think he faced some okay guys, but you see the records of the guys that he fought, it’s like… okay.”
‘Blaze’ believes his record would look just as good had he taken a similar route.
“He probably has more submissions than I do – but so what? that doesn’t mean anything… If you put me [in] to fight the kids, I’ll beat all the kids. I’m not saying he fought kids, but who did he fight? I don’t know who he fought.”
As Askhabov is a grappler himself, there’s no question in Burns’ mind about how the night plays out. He believes he needs only a single moment where the pair tie up to secure the win.
“That’s how sharp my submission game is.”
“I think he’s gonna sleep on my striking, people – my striking [has been] very sharp… He’s gonna be surprised, so he’s gonna shoot… We’re gonna have one grappling exchange and that will be it. That will be the end of the fight. I think it will be a submission.”
The last few years have paved a long road back to the cage for Burns, who admitted he didn’t expect rehabilitation from a full ACL tear to be as grueling as it was; and at 34 years old he’s keenly aware that the clock is ticking on his championship aspirations, though, as a Catholic, he has unwavering faith in ‘God’s plans’.
He pointed to fellow Brazilian Glover Teixeira’s recent success in attaining UFC gold at the ripe age of 42 as precedence of what aging fighters can accomplish – though Burns quipped he’d prefer to reach the top long before then.
“The first [time he challenged for] a title, he was 37. I wanna do it before him, don’t let me [be] wrong, I don’t wanna wait till I’m 37. But I can do it, man. [if] that guy can do it, I can do it. I’m still in good shape, I’m professional – inside the cage, outside the cage. I don’t have a crazy lifestyle, I’m a family man like my brother.”
“I see that I can do it.”
Herbert “The Blaze” Burns is a 34-year-old male fighter from Brazil with 11 pro wins and 3 losses. Burns is scheduled to fight Khusein Askhabov at UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. Rodriguez on Saturday, July 16, 2022.
Herbert Burns’s recent form coming into this matchup
Herbert Burns has gone 4-1 in the last 5 professional MMA fights.
- Loss vs Daniel Pineda • KO/TKO R2 4:37 • 2020-08-15
- Win vs Evan Dunham • Submission R1 1:20 • 2020-06-06
- Win vs Nate Landwehr • KO/TKO R1 2:43 • 2020-01-25
- Win vs Darrick Minner • Submission R1 2:29 • 2019-08-06
- Win vs Luis Gomez • Submission R1 2:24 • 2019-04-26