Drakkar Klose has an interesting theory as to why Kamaru Usman left Sanford MMA ahead of his welterweight title defense against former teammate Gilbert Burns at UFC 258.
The MMA community is a small one and it's normal to see top-flight fighters training together. Daniel Cormier famously moved down to light heavyweight so as to avoid an eventual clash with dear friend Cain Velasquez. Other times, a title challenger may switch gyms ahead of a planned showdown with their division's champion.
That is why some were caught off guard to see UFC welterweight champion Usman part ways with Sanford MMA, including coaches Henri Hooft and Greg Jones, ahead of a fight against his former sparring partner Burns. Fightful surveyed UFC fighters present and past for their fight picks (you can watch the video above) and Klose presents a theory as to why the champion hopped ship.
"I'm taking Burns. They trained together. I don't think Usman is training down in Florida anymore. To me that means, I think, Burns got the best of him in training and that's why he moved camps," Klose predicts.
Giga Chikadze has replaced Burns as one of Usman's sparring partners and the Georgian striker has confidence in his new teammate.
"Kamaru is going to win this fight. I actually just sparred with Kamaru last week and he looked so," Chikadze reveals. "So strong. I think he's going to win the fight."
Andre Fili had a more balanced take when assessing the fight.
"I don't know, I don't know. I think it's cool to see what Gilbert Burns has done this past year. It's really badass to see. Honestly, seeing his wrestling against Tyron Woodley was really impressive. His grappling is at a high level. Maybe he stops Kamaru's wrestling but no one else has been able to. Kamaru is a real problem for a lot of people," Fili explains. "Fighting is fucking chaos. People pretend it's not, but it's chaos. Nobody knows what the fuck is going to happen."
UFC 258 takes place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday, February 13. The pay-per-view card is headlined by a UFC welterweight title fight between champion Usman and top contender Burns. Keep up with Fightful for all your pre-fight, live and post-fight coverage.