Herbert Burns is on a tear in the featherweight division. At 2-0 in the octagon (looking to make it 3-0 this weekend at UFC 252), Burns has shown off phenomenal grappling, which seems to have become synonymous with the Burns name. In his most recent bout he submitted noted jiu-jitsu black belt Evan Dunham, who had only been submitted once before — by Donald Cerrone seven years ago.
While Burns has confidence in his ground game, he knows he’s in the middle of a division known for world-class grappling. However, he’s certain he is at the top of that pile.
“Myself, Ryan Hall, and Kron Gracie — I think we have the best grappling in the division,” he said. “It’s hard to say who has the best. I believe I have the best, but I’m sure they believe they have the best [too].”
Of course, the mere mention of these men has grappling nerds drooling at the prospect of seeing a pair of them in the cage. Although he loves the idea, Burns isn’t so sure about Kron.
“I think Kron Gracie is a little behind me on the rankings,” Burns said. “I’m not on the rankings, but I’m very close and hopefully after this fight I’ll be [in them].”
So what about Ryan Hall? The jiu-jitsu ace is notorious for having people turn him down when offered fights with him, but Burns has made it clear that he won’t be one of those. In fact, it’s Hall, he says, that seems to be disinterested in a meeting of the two.
“I think Ryan Hall, we can cross our paths soon, but I challenged him twice and he doesn’t seem interested in fighting me,” Burns said. “I understand it’ll be the toughest match-up for him. Good jiu-jitsu, good striking, good wrestling. So he’ll be matched in the jiu-jitsu, which is where he has the most advantages in his fights.”
And it’s those advantages in the striking that make Burns feel Hall doesn’t want to see him anytime in the future.
“I don’t think he wants to fight me. I don’t think the fight was offered to him, but all my interviews after fights, I’ve challenged him,” Burns shared. “He doesn’t seem interested, so I’m not gonna keep wasting my time calling him out.”
In order to have Burns take that next step towards Hall or any of the top 15, he’ll first need to get through Daniel Pineda. That fight takes place on the UFC 252 prelims on ESPN+ this Saturday.