As soon as he knew Tyron Woodley needed an opponent, Gilbert Burns raised his hand for the opportunity, and when he got it in the UFC’s return to Las Vegas Saturday night, he made the most of it, scoring a dominant five-round unanimous decision over the former welterweight champion to extend his current winning streak to six.
“I was calling these guys out for a reason,” said Burns. “I’m ready.”
Scores were 50-45 and 50-44 twice for the No. 6-ranked Burns, now 19-3. The No. 1-ranked Woodley, fighting for the first time since losing his title to Kamaru Usman in March 2019, falls to 19-5-1.
Burns came out fast, meeting Woodley in the middle of the Octagon, and in the first serious exchange, he rattled the Missouri native and put him on the deck. The Brazilian went in for the finish with hammerfists, but Woodley withstood the initial assault. Burns got into the mount position, but the bloodied former champ held on until he was able to explode back to his feet with two minutes left. Burns kept the pressure on until the end of the frame, Woodley going back to his corner with a nasty cut over his left eye.
In the second minute of round two, Burns took Woodley down and controlled matters for a spell until Woodley rose. The two welterweights continued to battle along the fence, neither putting together any significant scoring runs.
There were no trips to the mat in the third round, but it was still Burns in control as Woodley was simply being outworked by his foe, who mixed up his attacks nicely throughout the frame.
Woodley stuffed a Burns takedown attempt in the fourth, but as he controlled the clinch against the fence, there was little offense being unleashed. With three minutes left, referee Herb Dean restarted the stalled action and Burns let his hands go, drilling Woodley and hurting him with 1:40 remaining. Woodley recovered quickly and wrapped Burns up, but he was taken down moments later and nearly caught in a submission before the horn intervened.
Much of the first half of round five was spent in the clinch, with referee Herb Dean restarting the action midway through. But even when separated, it was Burns leading the action, with Woodley showing no sense of urgency to try and pull off a miracle comeback outside of a couple haymakers that didn’t hit the mark.