Gilbert Burns is officially a UFC welterweight contender…
The 33-year-old mixed martial artist, a former multiple-time jiu-jitsu champion, beat former champion Tyron Woodley by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-44, 50-44) in Saturday’s main UFC Fight Night event in Las Vegas.
Burns nearly finished Woodley in the opening minutes and never let his foot off the gas pedal, winning every single round.
“That was a former champion right there — you saw,” Burns said. “And I had a dominant performance.”
ESPN had Woodley ranked No. 5 among MMA welterweights coming in, while Burns was No. 9. Woodley had not fought since dropping the welterweight title to Kamaru Usman via unanimous decision at UFC 235 on March 2, 2019.
Burns trains at Sanford MMA in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with Usman, the current UFC welterweight champion. Despite that relationship, Burns called for a title shot after his win.
“I want to fight for the title,” Burns said. “Lot of respect, a lot of love for [Usman]. But I think I’m next. I’m next. I’m right there.”
Woodley, who finished with 28 significant strikes to 83 for Burns, said it simply wasn’t his night.
“To be honest, I feel crappy that I lost,” he said. “I didn’t imagine losing to Gilbert Burns. But at the end of the day, I’m really proud of myself because mentally, I knew what I was going through in the Octagon. He gave me some hard shots, and I just kept saying, ‘I’m not fixing to give up. I’m not feeling that this dude beat me. I’m coming back. I’m gonna win this fight.’
The card was the UFC‘s first back in its hometown since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. It took place at the UFC Apex, a facility across from the promotion’s campus, in front of no fans.
Burns (19-3) has won six in a row and four straight since moving up from lightweight to welterweight. He has just one loss going back to 2016. He has made huge strides in the striking department under coach Henri Hooft.
Said Burns after Saturday’s victory, “Not bad for a jiu-jitsu guy, right?”