As scientists have compiled considerable information related to how Covid-19 infects individuals and its vaccine, the long-term effects of the disease, for the most part, remain a mystery. Since missing out on an opportunity to challenge for the UFC’s Welterweight Title in the summer, Gilbert Burns now feels more prepared than ever for what the current king of the division, Kamaru Usman, has to offer.
Back in mid-July, Burns and Usman were scheduled to headline the UFC’s debut on Fight Island. Unfortunately, a positive Covid-19 test forced Burns off the card; the UFC replaced the vacancy with Jorge Masvidal, which equally piqued the interest of fans around the world, but Burns, unfortunately, was left watching from the sidelines.
In an interview with MMA Fighting, Burns admitted—justifiably so—the heartache in being a spectator, not a competitor.
“I was watching that fight and I was almost in tears because when Masvidal was walking out to the fight, it was supposed to be me,” Burns said.
Regardless of the emotional anguish, Burns also recognized—a month after his initial diagnosis—the toll Covid-19 had taken on his body.
“My energy level was not normal coming back,” Burns shared. “It’s a long process. I was not at 100 percent.”
Slowly but surely, things began returning to normal for Burns; moreover, he noticed improvements in his abilities: enhancements that would shield him from any high volume offense mounted by Usman.
In his title defense versus Masvidal, twenty-five minutes of takedowns and foot stomps prompted the judges to the score the contest in favor of Usman. If Usman was able to drag Burns, a highly accredited grappler, to the canvas, the Brazilian would welcome such a threat; the foot stomps, at least until recently, had been an area of concern for Burns.
During a recent training session—focused solely on foot stomps—at Sanford MMA, Burns noticed his feet were impervious to pain. He requested those with the pointiest heels to target his most tender toes. Nothing. They tried dropping kettlebells and other weights on all his little piggies. Nothing. It was as though Burns was wearing a pair of invisible, medieval shoes.
The functionality of Burns’ feet hans’t changed; they are now indestructible. Doctors hypothesize this abnormality with his feet is somehow related to Covid-19. More than ever, Burns is eager to lock Usman in on a date and escape damage-free with the belt.