UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Burns (TV: ESPN/ESPN+)
Saturday, May 30th, Prelims 6:00 PM ET ESPN/ESPN+, Main Card 9:00 PM ET ESPN/ESPN+, UFC APEX (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Welterweight Fight: Tyron Woodley (19-4-1) vs. Gilbert Burns (18-3)
Fight odds: Tyron Woodley -165 Gilbert Burns +145
The UFC will return Saturday, May 30th for its final event this month in what marked a successful return to fighting after there was a void in live sports due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the UFC leading the way, other leagues have announced their prospective return dates giving fans a welcome respite as we continue to deal with the challenges of social distancing. The most recent UFC event was on May 16th and in the Main Event a heavyweight fight between Walt Harris and Alistair Overeem took place. Walt Harris made his first return to the octagon following the tragic murder of his step-daughter, Aniah Blanchard, displaying incredible courage.
However, his return didn’t go to script as he lost to the slight underdog in Overeem by 2nd Round KO/TKO. Harris got off to a terrific start landing some big punches that put Overeem down and it seemed like the fight could’ve been stopped. But, give a lot of credit to Overeem who recovered and was able to use his wrestling to gain an advantage after the early onslaught that Harris unleashed. Overeem was able to utilize some ground and pound after taking Harris’ back and trapping one of his arms so he was in a more compromised position. Harris survived the 1st Round, but looked winded and Overeem took advantage with his better overall fundamentals in the 2nd Round.
Overeem landed a beautiful head kick followed by some punches that put Harris on the ground. Overeem was able to flatten out Harris and land strikes to the back of his head until the referee mercifully stopped the fight. Despite some recent knockout losses, Overeem showed he is not done fighting yet and Harris showed he still has a lot of weaknesses in his fight game that he needs to improve on in order to have more success. Overeem is a legend in the sport having been fighting professionally since 1999 and his experience, stamina and wrestling superiority proved too much for Harris to overcome.
In the Main Event on May 30th, Tyron Woodley will take on Gilbert Burns in a welterweight bout. Woodley is 38, 5’9 and 170.5 lbs with a 74 inch reach. Burns is 33, 5’10 and 170.5 lbs with a 71 inch reach. Burns is 18-3 with 6 wins by knockout and 8 by submission. After losing to Dan Hooker by 1st Round KO, Burns is undefeated having won his last 5 fights and most recently beat Demian Maia by 1st Round TKO in March of 2020. Maia, an elite grappler wanted to take the fight to the mat and try to get another submission victory. Burns acquitted himself well on the mat and when the fight got back to the feet, he landed a beautiful left hook that put Maia down and the fight was stopped.
It was an impressive performance from Burns who will face his toughest challenge when he takes on Woodley. Woodley held the UFC Welterweight Title from July of 2016 until March of 2019. Woodley lost the Title to the current champion, Kamaru Usman by unanimous decision. Usman ended up being the better wrestler and his advantages in size, strength and stamina proved to be too much for Woodley. Woodley is more than a year removed from that loss and at 38 years old his best days may be behind him. However, Woodley has fought the best in the welterweight division and Burns is by no means his toughest opponent.
Woodley is battling against father time and with a great performance against Burns he could set himself up for another Title shot. Woodley should have the advantages in experience, stamina, explosive striking ability and strength. Burns is capable of getting the upset win, but if Woodley comes in focused and doesn’t get into compromised positions he should get the victory. The wrestling skills of both fighters may cancel each other out, resulting in a majority of the fight being contested on the feet. Woodley’s experience and focus should be enough to garner a win by 4th Round TKO. Burns has never been in a 5 Round fight, meanwhile Woodley has gone the full 5 Rounds in 4 fights. That experience and knowledge of going into deep waters should help Woodley get the victory. Tune in for a great night of fights and don’t forget to watch UFC 250 coming up on June 6th.