Gilbert Burns prepared for grappling battle with Olivier Aubin-Mercier at UFC 231

There’s a big first at stake between Gilbert Burns and Olivier Aubin-Mercier tonight at UFC 231, and it’s likely neither wants to have it attached to his name.

“We’re both coming off a loss, but neither one of us has ever lost two in a row,” Burns told MMAjunkie. “Somebody will after we finally meet. I’m training hard so it’s not me.”

Burns (13-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) and Aubin-Mercier (11-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC) meet in a lightweight bout at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass. Their fight is part of the preliminary card on FS1.

The Brazilian and Canadian actually were supposed to fight at UFC on FOX 28 in Orlando, Fla., in February. But the Florida commission yanked Burns from the card when he came in at a higher weight than what was deemed safe for a cut during fight week.

Burns wound up knocking out Dan Moret a couple months later at UFC on FOX 29, but was knocked out by Dan Hooker in July at UFC 226 in Las Vegas. The loss halted a two-fight streak and came against a crucial opponent in the division.

“There have been many lessons from my last bout,” Burns said. “I was very well trained. I connected with a hard strike. I saw that he felt it. I tried to go for a finish, but I exposed myself too much and got hit hard in return. I didn’t have time to recover. I think I panicked a little, rushed to get the win, and ended up getting hit even harder.

“I shouldn’t have made that mistake against Dan Hooker, who’s a very long fighter, an expert striker. The main lesson is to stick to my strategy. After I hit him hard, I fell out of the strategy I trained for.”

Against Aubin-Mercier, Burns seems to think the fight is likely to end up on the canvas – where he believes he can come out on top.

“He’s a good fighter who doesn’t shy from a ground battle,” Burns said. “I’ve studied him extensively and my new strategy had been put together. My plan is to take him down and submit him.”

If that submission happens, Burns will have three wins in his past four fights, all by stoppage. And while he’s not looking ahead, he also is cognizant of what a win could do for him in the rankings and for potential future opponents.

“I’m not thinking about what’s next other than a dominant victory over Olivier Aubin-Mercier,” Burns said. “I want to fight soon thereafter. I plan to remain healthy and active.

“I want a dominant fight so I can climb up the rankings. Dan Hooker beat me. He became the No. 14 contender, and he’s facing No. 6 Edson Barboza next. I know that with a good win, I’ll be very near the top 15.”

For more on the UFC 231, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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