Much was speculated about how the relationship between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns would change after they were booked to face each other for the welterweight title.
According to UFC featherweight Jared Gordon, not much changed at all, especially when it came to the gym dynamics at Sanford MMA.
Although the fight set for UFC 251 was eventually scrapped after Burns tested positive for COVID-19 while Usman would move camps to train under Trevor Wittman in Denver, there was expected to be some sort of tension, at least within the gym initially.
After all, it wouldn’t be the first time teammates fighting for the title led to some friction. Just look at Tyron Woodley and Robbie Lawler.
However, that wasn’t the case whatsoever according to Gordon.
“So they’re friends. They’ve trained together for years,” Gordon said on an appearance on The Schmozone Podcast. “They are the type of guys that are like, ‘alright, this is business.’ And the coaches are the same way. There is no picking sides, there is no drama like we’ve seen with other gyms in the past.
“So when that happens, when they announced that Gilbert was next, Kamaru kind of already decided to go to Trevor Wittman’s. So he was in the gym for a couple of days when the transitioning period was occurring and Gilbert was there for a couple of days where he had just fought so he was kind of out of the gym. So they weren’t in the room, staring at each other, sparring with other guys or sparring each other.
“It was super smooth, no one in the gym had a problem, no problem with the coaches, no problem with Gilbert or Kamaru. They’re both standup guys, super respectful and it’s a business. They both have families, they both have personal goals and they’re going to do what they got to do. Gilbert deserves a title shot and Kamaru obviously agrees. So they’re going to do what they do and they’re both professionals about it so it was easy for the gym to just have that transitioning period.”
Despite training under Wittman, Usman may even continue train at Sanford MMA especially as he still lives in Florida.
And based on what Gordon said, it shouldn’t affect matters at all with Burns expected to get the next shot now that he has fully recovered.
“Like I said, he’s [Usman] also at Trevor’s now anyway,” Gordon added. “He still lives in Florida and he’ll be in the gym apparently. That’s what he told me at Fight Island.
“When he’s between camps and then when he has a fight, he’ll head over there so it wasn’t a big deal for them.”