MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC on ESPN 9, a five-round welterweight bout between Tyron Woodley and Gilbert Burns. The event takes place on Saturday, May 30 at the UFC Apex in las Vegas, Nevada.
Tyron Woodley (-190)
Woodley (19-4-1) is the former UFC welterweight champion and the No. 1 contender at 170lbs in the UFC rankings. The 38-year-old American is a former UFC and Strikeforce champion and has racked up a 9-3-1 overall record in the Octagon. Some of his notable career victories include Darren Till, Demian Maia, Stephen Thompson, Robbie Lawler, Kelvin Gastelum, and Carlos Condit. Woodley has been one of the top welterweights in the sport for a decade and he’s done so with a combination of wrestling skills and knockout power. Woodley is generally able to dictate where his fights take place as he has the takedown skills to take his opponents to the mat and the takedown defense skills to keep fights standing. On the feet he possesses big-time KO power and has shown that throughout his career. Going against Woodley is his age as he’s in his late 30s now and also the fact he hasn’t fought since a lopsided decision to Kamaru Usman in March 2019. He’s still one of the best in the world, but he has to prove that here against Burns after going so long without winning.
Gilbert Burns (+165)
Burns (18-3) is the No. 6 contender at 170lbs in the UFC rankings. The 33-year-old Brazilian is 11-3 overall in the UFC and has notable victories over Demian Maia, Gunnar Nelson, and Alex Oliveira. Burns has been red-hot as of late with five straight wins, and he’s looked particularly good since moving up to 170lbs with a 3-0 record. Burns has always been known for being one of the top grapplers in the UFC but he’s really improved his striking in the last few years as well. On the ground he can submit his opponents and on his feet he can knock them out, making him one of the most dangerous welterweights on the UFC roster. He has tremendous cardio and is able to push a hard pace on his opponents. Burns was always a solid fighter at lightweight but he’s emerged as a legitimate contender at welterweight and a win over Woodley could get him a title shot.
Fight Breakdown: This should be a great fight between two of the best welterweights in the world, with the winner potentially earning a title shot. It’s a very tough fight to call but I’m leaning slightly towards the dog in Burns. I like the fact he’s younger, has more momentum coming into this fight, and has fought more recently. Woodley is obviously more proven but I’m very high on Burns and believe he can make a run for the belt at 170lbs. In this fight, I see Burns having a higher work rate over the course of 25 minutes as he gets a decision over Woodley for the biggest win of his career.
Prediction: Gilbert Burns wins via decision