First, we fight ... then we booze?!
That's the plan for UFC star Gilbert Burns -- who says he can't wait to beat the hell out of his old sparring partner Kamaru Usman on Feb 13 ... and then pound beers together afterward!
Gilbert has earned a shot at Kamaru's welterweight belt at UFC 258 -- and tells TMZ Sports he intends to go after Usman with everything he's got, despite their chummy past.
"If the fight goes a little close to how our sparring sessions used to be ... people are gonna get crazy," Gilbert says ... "Because we used to go after each other hard."
"What we have between us is a high-level competition. I want to beat Kamaru, he wants to beat me. The best man should win that fight and will win that fight. But, there's no animosity."
Usman and Burns are both on FIRE right now -- Kamaru (17-1) hasn't lost a fight in the UFC, with victories over stars like Tyron Woodley, Jorge Masvidal, Colby Covington and more.
Burns (19-3) has looked spectacular in recent wins over Woodley, Demian Maia and Gunnar Nelson.
Gilbert says the only way to show his respect to Kamaru is to come at him with everything he's got ... and he intends to end the fight with a knockout.
Still, he offered these kind words to his opponent -- "Stay safe, we're gonna go out there and give it our best -- and we gonna still have all the respect after the fight."
There's more ... Gilbert also opened up about his bout with COVID-19 in 2020 ... telling TMZ Sports it was rough on his body and took a while before he felt 100%.