For over 15 months, all Tyron Woodley was waiting to do was show he was ready to return to the top of the mountain. The former champion, who had two fights scrapped prior to competing inside the UFC’s APEX Center on May 30, believed he was a new man. Unfortunately for him, Gilbert Burns also had something to prove after rejoining the welterweight division in August 2019.
At UFC on ESPN 9, Burns (19-3) dominated the former UFC Welterweight Champion in Woodley (19-5-1). The former lightweight won via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-44, 50-44).
“I trained so hard for this fight, I knew I could do it, I was calling these guys out for a reason,” Burns stated after the fight. “I’ve come to say. That was a former champion right there, you saw a dominant performance against a former champ. I’m ready. I feel so good right now… I’m here to stay.”
The 38-year-old Woodley was slower compared to the 33-year-old Burns, who rushed to the center of the cage right away. He landed the first shot, a heavy kick, and would just smash Woodley down to the floor. Utilizing the ground and pound, Burns would force Woodley to bleed by the eye. Woodley got back up but Burns was stalking him to end the round.
— UFC (@ufc) May 31, 2020
The entire bout was Burns stalking Woodley. Round two saw leg kicks by Burns as Woodley tried to reset himself. Burns then landed a huge takedown and would hold onto Woodley for several minutes. Round three saw more of the same. Burns landed a few combination shots as well as a number of leg kicks.
What was most interesting is that the wrestler in Woodley did not want to go to the ground. Perhaps he couldn’t as Burns would not give him the time of day. He hit Woodley with a right that dropped him and went for another takedown. Woodley was saved by the bell as Burns locked in a submission a few seconds before the end of the round.
— UFC (@ufc) May 31, 2020
While the cut wasn’t a major factor in the fight, Woodley’s lack of aggressiveness was. Woodley tried backing Burns up against the cage, but Burns would only smile as he took whatever Woodley had left. In the end, all Woodley could do was watch as the new blood took over the division.
According to UFC stats, Burns landed 76 significant strikes compared to Woodley’s 29. He also had 4:57 of ground control time compared to Woodley’s two seconds. Taking out the number one ranked fighter in the division, Burns (#6) showed he was ready for anything.
Woodley is now on a two-fight losing streak. Burns has now won six in a row, taking out top welterweights in Gunnar Nelson, Demian Maia, and Woodley. He called out UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman after the bout. There are currently no plans for Usman, as reports have him not facing BMF Champion Jorge Masvidal as of this moment.
UFC on ESPN 9 Main Card (9 p.m., ESPN/ESPN+)
Gilbert Burns def. Tyron Woodley via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-44, 50-44)
Augusto Sakai def Blagoy Ivanov via split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
Billy Quarantillo def.Spike Carlyle via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Roosevelt Roberts def. Brok Weaver via rear-naked choke (3:26 into round two)
Mackenzie Dern def. Hannah Cifers via kneebar (2:36 into round one)
UFC on ESPN 9 Preliminary Card (6 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN+)
Katlyn Chookagian def. Antonina Shevchenko via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-25)
Daniel Rodriguez def. Gabriel Green via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Jamahal Hill def. Klidson Abreu via TKO (1:51 into round one)
Brandon Royval def. Tim Elliot via arm-triangle choke (3:18 into round two)
Casey Kenney def. Louis Smolka via guillotine choke (3:03 into round one)
Chris Gutierrez def. Vince Morales via TKO (4:27 into round two)