Herbert Burns grew up in Niteroi, across Guanabara Bay from the city of Rio de Janeiro. His hometown is noted for the number of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts stars that it has produced, including BJJ world champion Leandro Issa and former UFC Lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos.
When Burns was 5 years old, he had his first exposure to martial arts in the form of karate. Burns trained in karate for less than two years, but his interest in the art led his father to bring him and his two older brothers to give BJJ a try when he was 10. To do so, his father bartered a car upholstery job in exchange for training under coral belt Luis Carlos da Fonseca for Herbert and his brothers. After that, he told his sons that he could no longer afford to pay for their training, so they had to be the best in their respective divisions so they could continue to train.
That they did, as Burns went on to win many local and regional tournaments, including three Brazilian national no-gi championships and a Copa do Mundo world title. In 2011, he earned his black belt, and made his professional mixed martial arts debut a year later. He is now the proud owner of an impressive 6-1 record, and looks to rebound from his first-ever loss in February.