Gilbert Burns is ready for his title shot.
A fast rise up the welterweight ranks led the Brazilian to his first main event on Saturday night at UFC on ESPN 9 and he made the most of it. Burns dominated former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley in every facet of the fight, landing a pair of knockdowns and ultimately winning a lopsided unanimous decision.
The judges scored the fight 50-44, 50-44 and 50-45 with Burns picking up his sixth win in a row overall but by far his most important performance while taking out Woodley.
“I’m very happy,” Burns said about his win. “I knew I could do it. I was calling these guys out for a reason. Not bad for a jiu-jitsu guy.”
Taking on a former champion, Burns showed no fear with a ferocious attack to start the fight as he blitzed Woodley with a series of punches that put him down on the ground in the opening exchange. Burns immediately moved into the mount on the ground as he began raining down punches and elbows with a gruesome cut opening over Woodley’s left eye.
Woodley survived and eventually worked his way back to the feet but Burns was surging with confidence.
As the fight continued, Burns really started to vary his attacks with a technical striking attack and then swooping inside the take Woodley to the ground. Burns also showed great ability to stay away from Woodley’s power and then connect with faster, more accurate striking combinations including a number of blistering kicks.
In the championship rounds, Woodley obviously needed a finish but it was Burns who stayed aggressive and made the ex-champion pay during many exchanges. Late in the fourth round, Burns exploded forward with a barrage of punches that put Woodley down again.
For the second time, Burns was gunning for the finish but Woodley showed his veteran experience as he managed to scramble out of the trouble. Still, Woodley knew that he was down big on the scorecards and his only chance to win was staging a massive comeback but it never came.
There was no doubt when the fight ended that Burns had just dominated one of the best welterweights in the history of the UFC from bell-to-bell. That kind of performance not only helps Burns secure a top ranking in the division but he believes it should earn him the next shot at the welterweight title.
“A lot of love, a lot of respect for you but I think I’m next. I’m right there. I can fight in July. I want to fight for the title.”
Obviously it’s a tough situation for Burns, who counts UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman as one of his closest teammates but with gold on the line, he will set friendship aside at least for one night.
As for Woodley, he returned to action following a 15-month layoff with a similar result after falling to Usman in March 2019. At 38, it’s tough to say what Woodley will choose to do next but he’ll almost certainly have to reflect and take some time to figure out a path forward after his second loss in a row.