Heading into their UFC 235 championship showdown, Tyron Woodley commented on Kamaru Usman’s wrestling level.
Usman, Woodley noted, was an NCAA Division II champion at Nebraska-Kearney, but Woodley was a Division I All-American at Missouri.
If Saturday night was any indication, Usman likely would have excelled at the Division 1 level as well. Usman put on an astonishing show against one of the game’s best wrestlers on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Usman thoroughly dominated Woodley, scoring 17:51 of control time in a 25-minute fight, and took his UFC welterweight champion.
The judges’ scores at T-Mobile Arena, which do little justice to demonstrating just how one-sided a fight this was, were 50-44, 50-44, and 50-45.
“I might not be the best striker, I might not be the best wrestler, but when it comes to mixing it up, there’s no question I’m the best f*cking welterweight on the planet,” Usman said.
The tone was set in the opening round. Usman shot in, only to find himself on the wrong end of a guillotine choke. The choke wasn’t tightly applied, though, and Usman soon took over. Usman landed punches and knees in the clinch and outwrestled his foe the rest of the way.
The second was likely a 10-8 round in Usman’s favor. He used a huge left elbow to the temple to set up a takedown. Whenever Woodley tried to find space to potentially escape, he’d eat punches and elbows from the relentless challenger.
In the third, the duo clinched, and Usman landed a nasty array of 19 punches to the torso in a row. Referee Marc Goddard made a couple questionable restarts, but Usman resumed his work each time.
Woodley went for a bit of a desperation guillotine in the fourth. It didn’t work, as Usman popped out and resumed outgrappling his opponent. Referee Marc Goddard issued a curious standup call in the final two minutes, which led to an exchange in which Woodley somehow survived a brutal array of uppercuts and overhands.
In the final round, Woodley grabbed a standing guillotine, but Usman broke through it with a slam and it was pretty much academic from there.
With the victory, Usman, a Nigeria native who now resides in Dallas, improved to 15-1. He’s won 14 in a row and is 10-0 in the UFC, dating back to winning The Ultimate Fighter 21.
“Give it up for Tyron give it up to him, when you talk greatest welterweights of all time that man is in the conversation,” Usman said.
Woodley (19-4-1), who had been champion since Aug. 2016. had a seven-fight unbeaten streak snapped and is 6-1-1 in his past eight.
“No excuses,” Woodley said. “Sometimes you have those nights that are just like a bad dream.”