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Stephen Thompson and Gilbert Burns Set to Faceoff at UFC 264

The UFC’s Welterweight division is one of the deepest and most stacked in the entire sport. The top of the division is loaded with elite talent and it is becoming increasingly difficult for contenders to establish themselves as worthy of a title shot. With Dana White stating that Colby Covington will be the next challenger for the belt, the July 10 matchup between Thompson and Burns will have massive implications for who gets the shot after Colby.

Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson has been a staple of the Welterweight’s elite contenders for years now. After unsuccessfully challenging then-champion Tyron Woodley for the belt in 2016 and 2017 in two closely contested fights, Wonderboy has gone 3-2 in his last 5. Following the Woodley loss, he picked up a unanimous decision over Jorge Masvidal before losing yet another close decision to Darren Till and getting knocked out cold by Anthony Pettis. He is currently riding a two-fight win streak, however, coming off two brilliant performances against Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal. A win over the number 2 ranked Burns would easily put Wonderboy at the top of a shortlist of title contenders, and it would be a fascinating stylistic matchup for whichever fighter, Usman or Covington, has the strap at the time.

Gilbert Burns, on the other hand, is fresh off his TKO loss against champion Kamaru Usman in February. Burns came into that fight riding a six-fight winning streak, including impressive wins over Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley. His shot at gold was unsuccessful, but Burns still has his heart set on being the best in the world; a win over Thompson would put him closer to a second chance at the precious belt.

Stylistically, this matchup is super intriguing for the fans. Wonderboy has, of course, made a name for himself with his patented karate style and silky smooth striking. Burns, alternatively, entered the UFC with a remarkable Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu pedigree that has posed serious challenges for the majority of his opponents.

While both men are certainly experts in certain fields, they are not exactly specialists. Thompson has exceptional takedown defense and makes it very difficult for his opponents to engage in grappling sequences. Burns, too, can do it all, as his striking continues to look better and better every time we see him compete. This is going to be a really fun contest at 170 pounds and will answer a lot of questions about the future of the division.

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