Former Champion Tyron Woodley Prepared for Rising Contender Gilbert Burns

A preview of the main event of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Las Vegas.

Updated: May 27, 2020 • 5:15 PM ET


Tyron Woodley is the UFC's No. 1 ranked welterweight.

A welterweight fight with major title implications between former champion Tyron Woodley and No. 6 Gilbert Burns will headline UFC Fight Night this Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

Woodley, the UFC’s No. 1 ranked welterweight, has not fought since losing the title to current champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 235 in March 2019. The 38-year-old won the belt with a knockout of former champion Robbie Lawler at UFC 201 in 2016 and defended the belt four times before running into Usman.

Including Lawler, Woodley has victories in his career over Darren Till, Demian Maia, Stephen Thompson, Kelvin Gastelum, Carlos Condit, Josh Koscheck, Paul Daley and Tarec Saffiedine. He’s also tied with UFC Hall of Famer Pat Miletich with four welterweight title defenses, which ranks Woodley third all-time behind Hall of Famers Matt Hughes and Georges St-Pierre.

It isn’t common for fighters to go on a second championship run when they’re on the wrong end of 30 years old, but Woodley feels great about his chances against Burns.

"What I like about this matchup for me is that it’s a five-round fight,” Woodley via The Hollywood Beatdown on TMZ Sports. “I don’t know if he’s ever fought a five-round fight, but it’s different. It’s different than trying to come out and explode.”

"He goes out there and he either explodes in the first two rounds and then starts to fade in the third or he explodes in the first round, the second round is kinda crazy, and then he comes out and just lets it all hang out in the third round. When you’re down 3-0 and I’m up three rounds and then you come out and get picked apart in the fourth, then you’re left to desperation. You’re left to swing big and kick big and go for takedowns and I think if anybody in the UFC is gonna have an eyeball to see that s--t from a mile away, get out the way, and sting you with some shots and finish you off, it’s me.”

The St. Louis native feels his championship experience will have him well prepared for a five-round fight. If Woodley can beat a surging contender such as Burns, he’ll be primed for a second title run and could be the next fighter to challenge for the welterweight title.

“I’m in a violent headspace,” Woodley said. “I don’t know another word to put it. I’m willing to do some very sh---y stuff to people, put them in compromising positions, hurt them. Like literally, hurt them, not just go out there and try to get the win.

"I don’t know if I’ve ever been this focused during my stint in the UFC. I don’t know if I’ve been this ornery. Today, I was yelling and cursing at my sparring partners. That’s how I know I’m peaking at the right time. That’s how I know I’m ready to go."

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Burns has won five straight fights, most recently defeating Maia in March by first-round TKO. He has found a great home at welterweight after being inconsistent at lightweight. Including Maia, who was a two-time title challenger in two different weight classes, Burns also has key victories over Gunnar Nelson and Alex Oliveira. Woodley, however, represents his biggest challenge to date, and he can shake up the top five of the welterweight rankings with a win.

The 33-year-old Brazilian knows what he’s up against with Woodley, but feels he’s up for the challenge.

“I’m stoked, happy,” Burns recently said via AgFight. “Fighting with Tyron Woodley, who was already a champion, is No. 1 in the rankings. So, it’s a tough fight, a tough guy, a great opportunity.

“I am focused on each moment and sharpening everything until the day of the fight. I am confident and stoked with this chance. The goal is to arrive on the 30th, win in a dominant way and then we’ll see.”


The rest of the main card on ESPN at 9 p.m. EDT

Heavyweight bout - No. 12 Blagoy Ivanov vs. No. 13 Augusto Sakai

Lightweight bout - Roosevelt Roberts vs. Brok Weaver

Women’s strawweight bout - Mackenzie Dern vs. Hannah Cifers

Welterweight bout - Gabriel Green vs. Daniel Rodriguez


ESPN Prelims at 6 p.m. EDT

Catchweight bout (150 pounds) - Billy Quarantillo vs. Spike Carlyle

Women’s flyweight bout - No. 2 Katlyn Chookagian vs. No. 12 Antonina Shevchenko

Light Heavyweight bout - Jamahal Hill vs. Klidson Abreu

Flyweight bout - No. 11 Tim Elliott vs. Brandon Royval

Bantamweight bout - Louis Smolka vs. Casey Kenney

Featherweight bout - Chris Gutierrez vs. Vince Morales