Adam Borics and Mads Burnell put on the fight of their lifetimes at Bellator 276. Borics and Burnell, both ranked no. 2 in the Bellator featherweight division, walloped on each other for 25 minutes at Family Arena in St. Louis, Missouri for the likely right to challenge for the 145-pound title next.
Borics was the more active striker in Round 1, landing with crisp and diverse strikes. Burnell, no pushover, responded with crunching uppercut combos and body shots. The most impactful strikes of Round 1 came from Borics. He shocked Burnell with a step-in elbow and follow-up knee. Burnell showed elite toughness, remaining close and landing to force Borics off of him.
Burnell really turned the tide in Round 2, landing repeatedly with left hooks, uppercuts, digging body shots and leg kicks. Borics had plenty of his own offense, including a hard knee to the chest and a spinning back fist. Burnell appeared to be edging out the round before Borics dropped him with a right hand in close with 10 seconds left in the frame.
Burnell’s unrelenting pressure really paid off in Round 3. Ten-plus minutes of body shots started to chip away at Borics’ gas tank. Burnell landed a liver shot that visibly hurt Borics and immediately had the recipient switching stances. A follow-up headshot stumbled Borics as Burnell continued to attack. Borics won back moments in the closing minutes of the round, but it likely was not enough to secure him a third consecutive round.
Borics roared back to life in Round 4. He upped the volume significantly, repeatedly landing with knees down the middle and busting up Burnell’s eye. Burnell maintained his forward pressure, but Borics regularly found room to land straight shots. A dance party broke out towards the end of the round as Burnell and Borics displayed charisma and showmanship.
Borics landed at will over the final five minutes of the fight. Burnell essentially fought with one functioning eye, but that did not deter him from moving forward and brawling. Burnell appeared to mostly abandon the body shots that served him so well earlier in the fight. Borics was awarded the unanimous decision with the judges’ scorecards reading: 49-46, 50-45 and 49-46.
“I mean look, I am not even breathing [hard]. The hard work pays off, guys. I am the next!” Borics told John McCarthy in the post-fight interview.
Borics (18-1) now stands as the next contender for the Bellator featherweight crown after champion A.J. McKee and former titleholder Patricio “Pitbull” Freire resolve their ongoing issues. Borics improved to 9-1 under the Bellator banner and a winner of four consecutive fights.
Burnell (16-4) snapped a seven-fight winning streak on Saturday night and lost his first Bellator fight after joining the promotion in 2020. The UFC alum beat Darko Banovic, Saul Rogers and Emmanuel Sanchez in his first three Bellator fights.