UFC 264: Burns v Thompson odds and predictions
Jack Green makes his pick as Gilbert Burns and Stephen Thompson meet in the co-main event at UFC 264 in Las Vegas.
Burns v Thompson odds
Saturday night’s co-main event is a welterweight clash between two fighters attempting to return to the forefront of the title picture.
Stephen Thompson returns to the Octagon for the first time since December 2020, when he beat Geoff Neal in a five-round main event.
‘Wonderboy’ won Performance of the Night after comfortably outpointing Neal for his second consecutive win after he also beat Vicente Luque by decision in November 2019.
Thompson received a shot at the welterweight title at UFC 205 back in November 2016, when he and then-champion Tyron Woodley fought to a draw over five rounds. Thompson then lost the rematch by majority decision and has since gone 3-2, with defeats to Darren Till and Anthony Pettis.
At 38, the American is approaching the end of his career and will struggle to get another shot at the belt if he fails to win here.
Standing in his way is Gilbert Burns, who is coming off a TKO defeat to Kamaru Usman in a welterweight title fight at UFC 258 in February.
The Brazilian had won six fights in a row prior to that defeat, including a comfortable decision win over Woodley and impressive victories over Demian Maia and Gunnar Nelson.
A former teammate of Usman’s with the Blackzilians, Burns did hurt the champion early in their bout and will be desperate to fight for the title again. He’s the underdog for Saturday night’s fight.
Thompson, meanwhile, is the favourite to earn a win that could extend his career at the top.
Burns v Thompson prediction
Thompson’s performance over his last two wins means he’s the favourite here, but the 38-year-old’s recent inactivity makes it difficult to trust him against a dangerous opponent like Burns.
Thompson has only fought twice in the past 26 months, and although Neal and Vicente Luque are good fighters, neither is at the Brazilian’s level.
Although Burns is coming off a loss, there is no shame in being beaten by a champion who has torn through the welterweight division. Unlike most other contenders, Burns actually caused Usman problems and rocked the champion with a huge right hand in the first round.
If he catches Thompson with a similar shot this fight will probably be over. ‘Wonderboy’ was knocked out with one punch by Pettis when seemingly in control of their 2019 fight, and Burns carries considerably more power than the former lightweight.
As an excellent wrestler with knockout power, Burns is a similar fighter in many ways to Woodley, who got the better of Thompson over their two fights. Woodley’s big right hand and the threat of the takedown froze Thompson, and he was never able to truly impose himself across 10 rounds of action.
This fight should pan out similarly, with Burns using his strength advantage to push Thompson back and neutralise the karate master’s dangerous long-range striking.
It might not make for the most entertaining fight, but that looks a solid path to victory for Burns, and the 34-year-old looks a good bet to get the win on Saturday night.
Burns to win
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