- Date & Location: Saturday, July 10, 2021 @ T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada
- Odds: Gilbert Burns (+125) vs. Stephen Thompson (-145) via BetOnline
- Prediction: Thompson via decision
The UFC hasn’t held an event in Las Vegas with a crowd since March 7. 2020. That run ends on July 10 when the promotion heads back to T-Mobile Arena for UFC 264. The main event of that pay-per-view card is the third meeting between former UFC interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier and ex-two division UFC kingpin Conor McGregor. In the co-main event, two former welterweight title challengers square off when Stephen Thompson meets Gilbert Burns.
Burns, who is the No. 2 ranked fighter in the official UFC welterweight rankings, saw his six-fight winning streak end in February when UFC 170-pound champion Kamaru Usman knocked him out in the third round.
Thompson, who checks in at No. 4 in the UFC welterweight rankings, has won his two most recent fights. Prior to that, Thompson was on a 1-3-1 run. His draw came in a 2016 matchup against then UFC champion Tyron Woodley. Thompson lost to Woodley in a rematch. His other two setbacks were to Darren Till and Anthony Pettis. His win during that rough patch came against Jorge Masvidal. Thompson’s two recent victories came against Geoff Neal and Vicente Luque.
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BURNS vs. THOMPSON PREDICTION & PICK
Burns has always been known as one of the best grapplers in MMA. However, he’s become a much better and more confident striker as of late. In a pre-fight interview, he said that he is looking forward to striking with Thompson in this fight. If he sticks to that plan, Thompson will get the best of Burns.
Thompson might be getting up there in age, but with a lifetime of karate on his resume, he is a difficult puzzle to figure out as a striker. He’s quick, he uses an awkward stance and he cuts angles well. Burns does not have the skills on his feet to compete with Thompson and that’s why I am picking Thompson to win the bout.
BETTING VALUE WITH THOMPSON
Burns is a dangerous ground fighter and his best bet to win this fight is by taking Thompson to the mat and working his submission game. However, that seems unlikely. Burns is focused on his striking these days and has two UFC submission wins since 2016. There’s a chance Burns goes back to his roots to get the win here. If you think that’s the plan in the Burns camp, a submission win for Burns is not out of line.
I don’t think Burns is going to grapple. I think he wants to test his striking against Thompson, especially since his most recent bout ended via a knockout loss. With that, I think Thompson uses his striking from distance to score against Burns. I think the threat of Burns getting a takedown will prevent Thompson from mixing it up to much and that he’ll win via decision.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
There’s not much question about this one. Thompson has the striking advantage and Burns is the better grappler. I expect the striker to carry the fight.
FIGHT STATS: BURNS vs. THOMPSON
|Gilbert Burns||Category||Stephen Thompson|
|3.22||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||4.24|
|3.04||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||2.80|
|2.08||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||0.32|
|0.7||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||0.0|
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
The welterweight division is pretty crowded at the top of the rankings. With that, despite their high rankings, there’s no guarantee that either of these fighters will earn a title shot with a win. A dominant performance in this contest would go a long way toward securing the winner a shot at UFC gold.