We have an incredible main event this weekend at UFC on ESPN 9, as the former UFC Welterweight Champion, and the No. 1 ranked Tyron ‘The Chosen One’ Woodley squares off against the surging No. 6 ranked Gilbert ‘Durinho’ Burns. This marks Burns’ second fight against a former world champion, and his first fight against a former UFC champion. He certainly made the right choice by moving back up to welterweight, he’s really come into his own recently. Woodley on the other hand hasn’t fought since March of last year, the same amount of time Burns has gone 4-0 in. That’s right, Woodley hasn’t even fought since Burns has been a welterweight.
‘The Chosen One’ lost his title to Kamaru Usman back at UFC 235, a fight he lost all five rounds of. He was going to come back in March of this year to face fellow top welterweight contender Leon Edwards, a fight that fell through because of this whole pandemic. That fight’s obviously been scrapped, and now he fights ‘Durinho’. This is a great match up because none of us know how it goes down, it’s a pretty unpredictable fight.
Burns is a bit more well rounded than Woodley, but that’s not to say Woodley isn’t well rounded, Burns just mixes it up better. He can go from striking, to wrestling, to grabbing a limb, he can do it all. Not only that, but Burns has heavy hands as well, and his kickboxing game has really come a long way. Woodley generally wrestles his opponents to a decision, which he hasn’t done in a long time, loses a decision, or knocks his opponents out.
Those are almost always the three possibilities when watching Woodley fight. He waits on his opponents to make mistakes, and once they do, he pounces on them with his vicious power. However, if his opponents don’t make any mistakes, he generally gets out-paced.
It’s a shame ‘The Chosen One’ doesn’t use his wrestling more, because he’s one of the very best in the sport at it. He’s a two-time NCAA Division I All-American, and also a Big 12 Conference Champion. Not to mention he was a two-time All-State in high school, as well as the USA University Freestyle National Championship Runner-Up in 2006 after college. He also had the highest takedown defense percentage leading up to his fight with Usman, now he has the third best takedown defense percentage amongst UFC talent. The thing is, he barely uses his wrestling, and he certainly doesn’t mix it up when he does. That could be a problem when facing someone like Burns.
On the other hand, Burns has never fought someone of Woodley’s caliber. Fighting someone that talented comes with incredible risk, and having not fought someone as elite as Woodley, it may cause Burns to make a mistake. All it takes is one of them when fighting someone like the former welterweight champion, and boom, it’s over. Woodley may be the hardest hitting welterweight ever, he’s not someone you can just take punches from.
Woodley won the UFC Welterweight Championship back in the summer of 2016 and defended it three times, as well as fighting to a draw in his first defense, before losing it to Usman. The only title fights he had that really blew anyone away were when he won it against Robbie Lawler, and his last defense against Darren Till. His first fight with Stephen Thompson, the draw, was incredibly entertaining as well, but it could have gone either way. Now he’s 38-years-old, does he still have what it takes to remain on top?
Burns is such a dangerous talent that not many people know of, despite being in the UFC since 2014. He’s almost 34-years-old, and it appears he’s approaching his peak. Burns defeated the 20-0 Alexey Kunchenko in his return to welterweight, who’s a four-time M-1 Global Welterweight Champion. He returned just a month-and-a-half later to defeat Gunnar Nelson, also via unanimous decision, and then he fought Demian Maia in March, defeating him via TKO in round one. As previously stated, he’s really come into his own lately, it’ll be interesting to see how he does against the former welterweight champion.
No one wants to go to the ground with Burns, he’s one of the best grapplers in the entire sport, boasting a 2nd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He’s a 2011 World Jiu-Jitsu Championship winner, as well as placing second two years prior to winning it. He won the no-gi World Jiu-Jitsu Championships in 2010 and 2013, and he also won the World Cup in 2013.
Burns was also awarded a bronze medal at the 2015 ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championships. It’s safe to say Burns is an absolute savage on the mat, but Woodley also holds a BJJ black belt, and under Din Thomas. That’s a great coach to be ranked under. It’ll be very interesting to see how this fight plays out if it hits the mat. In all likelihood though, it will probably play out on the feet.
Woodley doesn’t do well when his opponents pressure him and throw a lot of volume. Nate Marquardt, Jake Shields, Rory MacDonald, and now Kamaru Usman all used that gameplan to beat him. Will Burns be able to do that, or will he make a mistake that Woodley capitalizes on?