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Gilbert Burns getting help for Khamzat Chimaev fight from current UFC champ

Jason Burgos

For his fight against rising Russian wrecking machine Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 273, former title challenger Gilbert Burns has received some recent assistance from the current division king, and one-time opponent, Kamaru Usman.

Burns (20-4) and Usman (20-1) have an interesting history. For quite a few years, they were consistent teammates at powerhouse fight gym Sanford MMA. The Brazilian was often a key training partner as “The Nigerian Nightmare” rose up the ranks and became the UFC 170-pound champion. However, things changed when Burns had his own ascendence to the top and earned a chance to compete for Usman’s title.

Checkout: Our UFC predictions for the promotion’s next pay-per-view card UFC 273

The oncoming clash led Usman to change gyms, and Sanford head coach Henri Hooft stayed out of Burn’s corner for his fight against Usman — a long-time pupil of Hooft. After Usman won their clash a year ago at UFC 258, it seemed that the days of the pair helping each other out for fights were long over. Especially with “Durinho” remaining in championship contention.

Kamaru Usman a recent addition to Gilbert Burns’ camp for Khamzat Chimaev fight

However, during a Thursday interview with TMZ Sports, Burns revealed that his former opponent has been at Sanford recently as he rehabs from hand surgery and that he has become a helpful addition to the final days of preparation for his bout with Chimaev (10-0) on April 9.

“Kamaru Usman came a couple of days to help out. …. He was helping a couple of times. Not training with me, but kind of coaching, being on the side and giving me a lot of advice on my last three or four sparrings,” Burns said. “Very high IQ, very good advice, it was good to have him around.”

Considering the fact that a win over Khamzat Chimaev could earn the 35-year-old another title opportunity makes the training partnership a bit surprising for both men. However, Burns made it clear he holds no ill will after losing to a man he considered a friend well before they ever stepped into the Octagon together.

Related: Get Khamzat Chimaev next fight details

Burns at peace with loss to Usman last year

khamzat chimaev, gilbert burns
Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

“I made peace with that feeling. The guy beat me. Okay, congratulations. I don’t have that personal [animosity]. For sure want to become champion but I’m not after Kamaru,” he said. “I’m after the title, I want to become champion. But I don’t have a beef, anything personal, no grudge feeling against Kamaru.”

Usman’s late inclusion in the fight camp isn’t likely to cause a swing in how Khamzat Chimaev vs Gilbert Burns turns out, but there is no doubt that having the best fighter on the planet giving some pointers will not hurt.

UFC 273 takes place next Saturday inside the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla.