When former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley (19-4-1) steps into the octagon on Saturday night it will be the first time since his UFC 235 decision loss to current champion Kamaru Usman in March 2019.
“The Chosen One” meets rising star Gilbert Burns (18-3) in the main event of UFC on ESPN 9 on May 30.
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Prior to the title loss to Usman, Woodley had not seen defeat since 2014 where he dropped a decision to Rory MacDonald.
The former champion went on to win six bouts and a draw in the five year span. While several of Woodley’s fights have gone to the judges’ scorecards for a decision, he has won with the use of his hands and submission skills. His 2018 title defense against Darren Till ended by way of D’arce choke, resulting in Woodley earning his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt.
BUT….. his opponent, Gilbert Burns is no slouch on the ground.
“Durinho” is coming off a first round win over arguably the best grappler the UFC has ever known in Demian Maia.
Burns, also a black belt in his own right, is one of the world’s best submission artists and his willingness to fight on short notice has been compared to that of Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone.
While the up and coming Burns may be on a tear in the UFC since his loss to Dan Hooker, many of his recent outings have been in grappling competitions, and some of them have not been successful. While that should not translate into this outing against Woodley since this is an MMA bout, it does open up the argument that Woodley could possibly submit Burns.
While I don’t see that happening here, I still do expect that Woodley will leave Las Vegas on Saturday night with his hand raised. If anyone can shock the world and pull off the upset it is Burns, (I’m not even entirely certain it would be an upset to be honest), but I still think Woodley figures out a way to go to the scorecards and walk away in victory.