UFC Fight Night 176: Woodley vs Burns Fight Preview

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Image via ESPN

#1 Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley (19-4-1) and #6 Gilbert “Durinho” Burns (18-3) have finally agreed to share the octagon on May 30th after months of verbally trading with one another over social media. Woodley, coming off a devastating loss to current Champion Kamaru Usman, has been on the shelf since March 2nd of 2019, while Burns has fought an impressive 3 times in the last 12 months. They’ll meet as they headline UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs Burns.

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Gilbert Burns

Durinho comes into this bout riding an impressive 5-fight winning streak (Aubin-Mercier, Davis, Kunchenko, Nelson, and Maia), with finishes over 2 of those names. The lightweight-turned-welterweight has found a ton of success at the 170lb division, citing weight-cut issues playing into losses like the Dan Hooker fight back in 2018, in which he was KO’d in the first. The 3-time BJJ world champion seems to have reinvigorated his career in full after being the first man to finish Demian Maia since 2009. Burns, currently 33, still has a few years left in the game, and if he can capitalize on this opportunity, he could very well find himself close to title contention.

However, Tyron Woodley (despite his last outing) is anything but a pushover.

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The Chosen One

Tyron Woodley

Tyron Woodley, the former king of the welterweights with 4 successful title defenses, was riding a 6-0-1 fight streak before being neutralized by Kamaru Usman in what was one of the most impressive performances by a challenger against the champion. After that bout in March, many have made the conclusion that A) Kamaru is just that good and B) Woodley didn’t show up that night. There is a ton of pressure on Tyron to turn away the surging contender. A bitter past with UFC executives, combined with the amount of time Woodley has taken away from the cage, and him being 38, a loss on May 30th could very well signal that Woodley’s career is on the downtrend. It is difficult to ascertain where he will be performance wise.

Path to Victory for Burns

Durinho will definitely need to put on a career-best in terms of performance. There is a definite BJJ advantage in his favor, but he lacks the extensive wrestling background to take Tyron down to the canvas. With a takedown accuracy under 40% per UFC’s statistics, it is unlikely Burns will blast double the Chosen One. However, trading leather and dropping the former champion is an alternative way that Gilbert can get the fight to ground.

This task will prove challenging, as Woodley has not been dropped since his KO loss to Nate Marquardt in 2012 (who was also the guy that finished Maia in 2009… what a fighter no one really talks about). In conclusion, Gilbert Burns needs to pressure Tyron and clinch him against the cage and then on the break attempt one of his patented hooks. Stunning Woodley would either allow for a takedown, or follow up strikes to get the KO or the fight to the mat. Additionally, Burns can reverse a Woodley takedown attempt or try to snatch a D’arce when Tyron shoots.

Path to Victory for Woodley

I hate to say it, but this is hard to predict because I am not sure which Woodley is going to show up. The Tyron Woodley that decimated Robbie Lawler takes this fight 8 times out of 10, but the Woodley that fought Till or Usman struggles a lot more. Against a guy like Burns, being on the backfoot and trying to catch him with a winging overhand is not the best strategy. Letting Gilbert press Tyron against the cage is a surefire way for Woodley to lose via Decision once again.

I think Woodley needs to be aggressive and change levels early, getting Burns to bite on a few of the feints, before trying any huge power shots. Durinho’s chin at Welterweight has held up, and if Woodley wants to crack it, he absolutely needs to fight technically. I think the wrestling is going to be counteracted by Gilbert’s BJJ, so following through on takedown attempts isn’t a strategy I would suggest. The Chosen One needs to pull out a masterclass to defeat Durinho in all areas.

My Prediction

I think Gilbert has the momentum going into this and the focus. Many point to Tyron’s rap career as a large distraction from fighting, which, honestly, seems like a supported thought at this point. I think the fight is going to have a tense first round, with Woodley backing up and Burns not wanting to fully commit to anything, followed by a round of Durinho turning up the heat. I predict the ring rust and the age catches up to Woodley, as he suffers a 3rd Round KO/TKO to the surging contender in Gilbert Burns.

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Durinho via 3rd Round KO/TKO

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