Written by Josh B.
Ex UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley headlines the latest UFC Fight Night to make his octagon return May 30.
The once-dominant champion looks for redemption vs. Gilbert Burns after an early 2019 title loss. While Woodley successfully defended his 170 lb. strap four times before running into Kamaru Usman, Gilbert Burns is unbeaten in five consecutive fights.
At 38, top-contender Woodley has his hands full with the #6-ranked Burns. According to ESPN the UFC hasn't named a venue for its upcoming card. Though, buzz suggests Dana White hopes to house UFC Fight night at Apex Facility in Las Vegas. No additional fights have surfaced for the May 30 event.
However, featuring their signed main event, it's time to see how Woodley and Burns stack up heading into another event from the front-running promotion.
Tyron "The Chosen One" Woodley began his MMA career undefeated following standout NCAA wrestling results. Able to physically overpower most challenges, Woodley tore through Strikeforce welterweight contenders Tarec Saffiedine, Paul Daley and Jordan Mien. This early success granted the St. Louis Native a vacant welterweight championship bout vs. former Anderson Silva challenger Nate Marquardt.
Using versed experience, Marquardt drew the then overaggressive Woodley into his game before securing a TKO win. Following his first professional loss, "T-Wood" re-invented himself before debuting with the UFC after Dana White and company acquired Strikeforce.
Visibly improved on his feet, Woodley made an octagon-debut statement knocking out tested veteran Jay Hieron. From there, the evolving division one wrestler pressed Jake Shields, destroyed Josh Koscheck and Carlos Condit while embarking upon a top-tier run.
That run culminated July, 30, 2016, as Woodley unseated Robbie Lawler to win the UFC welterweight title. Four subsequent championship defenses included a thrilling series with Stephen Thompson, outclassing of Demian Maia and Brabo choke vs. Darren Till. An established division boss, Woodley looked his advancing age being dissected last March opposite Usman.
Now, the 38-year-old looks to solidify another crack at division gold by outclassing rising contender Burns.
A decorated Brazilian Jiu Jitsu grappler, Burns opened his UFC career in 2014 to decent results. Three lower-level octagon wins were halted, however, when Rashid Magomedov and Michel Prazeres defeated the 2011 world BJJ gold medalist.
Facing a Woodley-type crossroad, Burns' fighting game evolved as he proceeded to win seven of eight beginning in 2017, including five straight, to enter April 30 dangerous.
Wielding knock out power and top notch submissions, at 33, the Hard Knocks 365 trainee is peaking. After violently ending Maia's night in March, only the second man to do so, Burns is considered the 'B-Side' vs. Woodley in name only.
When UFC Fight Night 173 culminates, expect a war between experienced, rounded martial artists. Though Woodley opens as the Draft Kings Sportsbook (-167) favorite, expect late money to come in on Gilbert Burns (+140) as he's a vogue pick to exploit Woodley's near 15-month layoff.
Woodley (19-4-1) boasts twelve stoppages. Meanwhile, Burns has capped 14 within distance. Each wield knockout power, though if Woodley takes "Durinho" down, he may taste his first submission loss.
This main event has all the requisites to advance a line of even UFC matchups since the company returned from hiatus May 9. Though, looking for his moment of MMA glory, take Burns via upset due to cardio advantages in a five-rounder over long-sidelined Woodley.