Woodley seeks to regain UFC welterweight belt after long layoff


An intriguing welterweight main event headlines Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night.

Former champion Tyron Woodley will compete for the first time since losing the belt to Kamaru Usman nearly 15 months ago when he takes on surging and underrated Brazilian Gilbert Burns in a five-round main event.

Woodley (19-4-1), of Ferguson, Mo., had not lost a UFC fight in five years when he dropped a shockingly one-sided decision to Usman last year. Woodley attributed the loss in part to burnout, and he admitted to trying to do too many things outside the cage to take advantage of his moment in the limelight during a three-year title reign.

The 33-year old Burns (18-3) had no such worries as he put together an under-the-radar run to force his way into the divisional elite. Burns has won five straight bouts since Dec. 8, 2018,, and seven of his past eight, with the most recent a violent first-round knockout of respected veteran Demian Maia on March 14 during the final UFC event before the shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Burns, who trains in South Florida, likes to push a fast pace. Woodley can be explosive, but he picks his spots and is best when he can wear his opponent down with his wrestling base, then counterstrike when the time is right. Will Woodley be able to stick to that bread and butter at age 38 after a long absence, or will Burns dictate the action? That question is what makes Saturday’s main event so intriguing to insiders.

UFC Fight Night will be held at the UFC APEX, a small arena and TV studio on the UFC’s Las Vegas campus. It will be the first event in the company’s hometown since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, as the Nevada Athletic Commission lifted its temporary ban on combat sports in the state on Wednesday. The Nevada commission will hold the UFC to tighter standards than Florida’s commission did during three recent events in Jacksonville, including strict hotel quarantines for participants and fewer people allowed in the arena.

—Field Level Media