For most a perfect record and two impressive back-to-back first round stoppages would be enough to secure a title shot, but not Herbert Burns.
Burns is undefeated in the ONE cage and his career. At 6-0, he is coming off two impressive first round submission victories. He was sure it would be enough to secure him his title shot, but instead he found himself sidelined for more then a year with no communication.
“I was supposed to fight for the title, but we never heard from One Championship for a long time. My manager was asking for the fight, but got no reply from them,” Burns said. “Then he said we were supposed to fight in October, then November, then December, then January, now February, so I don’t have a clear answer on that, but I am just happy to be back.”
As you can imagine a year out of the cage wasn’t good for Burns’ Finances. Because he thought he would be fighting on numerous occasions last year he invested a great deal of money into his training. Ironically, he now has a fight, but can’t afford to undergo the same preparations he would normally undergo, because he no longer has the funds to support the travel.
“That was a big issue for me. I did invest in myself a lot, because I was hoping for a fight,” I was travelling to Thailand to improve my muay thai. After that I travelled to Miami to train with the Blackzilians and then I travelled to Brazil again and then they said we’re going to fight, so then I travelled again to Miami and now I am doing a training camp in Brazil. The training is good here, but financial issues is one of the reasons I am doing the training camp here. ”
Burns is booked to meet undefeated Russian prospect Movlid Khaibulaev at ONE: Throne of Tigers. The fight will be Khaibulaev’s debut in the one cage as he has done most of his work on the Russian circuit. Burns admits he doesn’t know a lot about his Russian counterpart, but is fairly confident he has never faced a grappler of his calibre.
“We have different styles. He doesn’t move a lot on his feet. He throws very hard combinations, but he doesn’t move a lot. He stays and then he throws power. I don’t throw a lot of power,” Burns said. “My grappling game is on another level than his grappling game. Clearly I believe that I am the best grappler in the division. I don’t think he is going to match me in that area.”
“I don’t think he has ever faced anyone like me before. He has never faced a high level grappler,” Burns continued. “The experience I have is against world class level opponents, it’s hard for me to know the Russian circuit, I don’t know it very well, so I don’t know what level competition he has faced, but I don’t think he’s faced someone like me.”
After being sidelined for all of 2016, Burns goal for the year is to buck multiple fights and stay active.
“I am looking forward to being active this year. I don’t want any lay-off this year,” Burns said. “I want to fight at least three or four times in 2017.”
Burns is set to meet Khaibulaev at ONE: Throne of Tigers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at the Stadium Negara.