Gilbert Burns and ‘The Canadian Gangster’ Olivier Aubin-Mercier finally got their date in the octagon at UFC 231, where the Brazilian Burns dominated on the ground to earn a unanimous decision.
UFC 231 was a second chance for Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Gilbert Burns.
It was a fight that was supposed to happen at UFC Orlando in February. One for which ‘The Canadian Gangster’ had trained, one for which he had already traveled South for. And then Gilbert Burns was forced off the card, ruled unable to continue his weight cut. OAM was left in limbo, with no replacement opponent able to be found. The Canadian, with one of the best current gimmicks in the UFC (just what is a Canadian Gangster, anyway, and why do they use fanny packs?), would have to wait until April, where he defeated Evan Dunham at UFC 223.
A follow-up loss to Alex Hernandez in Calgary, however, saw OAM booked against Gilbert Burns once more, this time in Toronto for UFC 231.
There was no missing the date this time. Aubin-Mercier opened by pushing the pace, connecting with a left-right combo early. He kept Burns on the outside, circling. OAM would then fire a high kick and a combo; Burns fired back, and later attempt a single-leg takedown, only for the Canadian to fight it off. Burns, however, would stay on it, picking Aubin-Mercier up and slamming him down in an impressive display. From there it was a grappling chess match, Aubin-Mercier working to stand up, Burns working to keep him down. The Canadian, however, would work his way back up, importantly without taking much damage. But moments later, that would change with a thunderous knockdown from Burns! Burns would swarm, landing bombs as Aubin-Mercier covered up. He’d survive, but Burns took the back and locked on with a body triangle.
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With a minute left in the round, that was a rough spot to be in. Yet it also bought Aubin-Mercier some time to recover. While Burns would look for a choke, then an arm-bar, OAM would survive the round.
Burns came right out and fired a body kick to start the second, while Aubin-Mercier stormed back with a combination. OAM’s body was bright red, showing damage from the kicking game of Burns. Aubin-Mercier would continue to press, firing a combination but winding up rocked again! He was wobbled, but not down. Burns could not capitalize, and the fight stayed standing. Burns, meanwhile, was covering up every time OAM attacked. He’d finish the round shooting a takedown, but there was no time to make anything happen.
The question heading into the third was whether any judge would give Aubin-Mercier the second, as while it was a closer round, Burns still appeared to have done more in the frame. Meaning, barring a finish, the Canadian would be in a tough spot to win the fight.
Burns, surprisingly, once again opted to stand and trade to start the round, despite finishing both of the first two on the ground, where he was dominant. That said, two minutes in, and Burns decided he’d had enough of the stand-up game. He shot for and secured a takedown, landing in half-guard. With half a round remaining, he had all the time in the world to work for a finish. As he had in the first, Burns got a body triangle on as he took the back of OAM. Impressively, Aubin-Mercier would survive and make it back to his feet, but while the escape ignited the crowd, the win was already in the bag for Burns.
Gilbert Burns def. Olivier Aubin-Mercier by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)