Gilbert Burns handed Alexey Kunchenko the first loss of his career, winning a unanimous decision on short-notice at UFC Uruguay.
Undefeated Russian Alexey Kunchenko looked to improve to 21-0, and 3-0 in the UFC, ahead of his bout with promotion veteran Gilbert Burns in Montevideo. The former M-1 welterweight champion made his UFC debut in September of last year, tallying victories over Thiago Alves and Yushin Okami in 2018. Kunchenko was initially slated to face Laureano Staropoli, but a broken nose forced Staropoli to pull out of the bout.
Burns was looking to keep the family winning streak going at UFC Uruguay. His younger brother, Herbert, earned a UFC contract at the most recent Dana White Contender Series event. The matchup with Kunchenko was Burns’ return to welterweight, following a 10-fight run at lightweight. In those 10 bouts, Burns was 7-3, winning four of his last five. He last competed at 170-pounds in his UFC debut in July of 2014.
Burns landed the first strike of note in the bout, dropping Kunchenko with a leg kick in the opening 30 seconds. Kunchenko was quick to get up, and took control of the center of the Octagon. Burns replied with another strong kick, this time to the body, as Kunchenko worked to find his range and fired off a couple of leg kicks of his own. After a couple more kicks from the Brazilian, Burns shot and landed a takedown, giving him top position as the mid-point of round one came and went. Burns kept top position for the final minutes of the round, pressing Kunchenko against the cage while working for position and throwing a flurry of strikes.
Kunchenko was more aggressive to start round two, with clear brusing on the outside of his lead left leg showing from Burns’ leg kicks. The Russian started adding combinations to his Octagon control, forcing Burns to back up and defend. The duo traded flurries without dealing any major damage, as both fighters looked to land big in the opening minutes of the second round. Burns then landed a takedown in the middle of the Octagon, taking top position with about 90-seconds remaining in the round. Much like the first, Burns finished the majority of the final minute of the round in top position, shooting for a failed submission in the waning seconds before the horn sounded.
Likely needing a finish, Kunchenko came out firing to start the third. Burns was able to quickly turn the fight into a clinch battle, following a scramble which saw the Brazilian on his back. The fight returned to the feet shortly thereafter, where Kunchenko continued to fire combinations at Burns while marching forward. Kunchenko then landed a leg kick that dropped Burns to the ground. He was in no hurry to get up, until he was forced to by the referee.
Halfway through the final round Kunchenko was targeting the leg of Burns. Burns fought through it, and landed an impressively powerful takedown with around two minutes remaining. The Brazilian attempted to take his back while forcing the Russian against the cage, as Kunchenko fired short punches and elbows to the side of Burns’ head in the clinch. Burns was content to continue to pressure Kunchenko against the cage, as the final minute of the fight ticked away. With 30-seconds left, referee Keith Peterson brought the fight back to the center of the Octagon. Once there, Burns ran out the clock, despite his clearly injured leg giving him issues.
— UFC (@ufc) August 10, 2019
Result: Gilbert Burns def Alexey Kunchenko by unanimous decision (29-28×3)
Check out all of the results from UFC Uruguay here!