UFC Fight Night Report: Gilbert Burns dominates Tyron Woodley
By: Eric Marcotte
On Saturday night, the UFC returned to Nevada for the first time since the athletic commission shut down events in the state. The card was held at the UFC Apex, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Notably, as this event took place at the Apex, the octagon was smaller than the cage normally used for UFC events, at 25′ instead of 30′. Additionally, the COVID-19 testing and safety protocols implemented in Nevada are notably stricter than the policies that were implemented during the previous three cards in Florida. These protocols include the use of oral fluid testing, disinfecting the cage between fights, stricter self-quarantine rules, and mandatory masks on site.
The event was headlined by a welterweight bout between former champion, Tyron Woodley, and 6th ranked contender, Gilbert Burns. Woodley last fought in March of 2019, where he lost his UFC Welterweight Championship to Kamaru Usman by unanimous decision. He has been inactive since then, rehabilitating a hand injury. In that span of time, Gilbert Burns has fought four times, inserting himself into the top ten at 170lbs following a first-round knockout of the longtime contender, Demian Maia. For both men, a win would likely insert them into the discussion for a shot at Kamaru Usman, so the stakes were high going into this fight.
The commentary team for this card consisted of Brendan Fitzgerald, Daniel Cormier, and Michael Bisping. Performance bonuses were awarded to Gilbert Burns and Mackenzie Dern. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Tim Elliott and Roosevelt Roberts.
*Chris Gutierrez def. Vince Morales by TKO at 4:27 of Round 2
*Casey Kenney def. Louis Smolka by guillotine at 3:03 of Round 1
*Brandon Royval def. Tim Elliott by arm triangle at 3:18 of Round 2
*Jamahal Hill def. Klidson Abreu by TKO at 1:51 of Round 1
*Daniel Rodriguez def. Gabriel Green by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
*Katlyn Chookagian def. Antonina Shevchenko by unanimous decision (30-25 all)
*Mackenzie Dern def. Hannah Cifers by kneebar at 2:36 of Round 1
*Roosevelt Roberts def. Brok Weaver by rear-naked choke at 3:26 of Round 2
*Billy Quarantillo def. Spike Carlyle by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Augusto Sakai def. Blagoy Ivanov by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
*Gilbert Burns def. Tyron Woodley by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-44, 50-44)
CHRIS GUTIERREZ (14-4-1, 145.5) VS VINCE MORALES (9-4, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Gutierrez opened up with a series of hard low kicks. He connected with a jab as Morales moved forward, and followed it up with a spinning head kick. Gutierrez threw a hard kick to the body and then landed two more low kicks. Morales was clearly feeling the effects of Gutierrez’s low kicks just two minutes into the fight. Morales backed Gutierrez off momentarily with a right hand, but Gutierrez went right back to attacking the legs of Morales to end the round. This was a very one-sided round for Gutierrez, and I would argue that it was a 10-8 round.
Gutierrez went right back on the attack to begin round two, and Morales’s left leg was really beaten up at this point. Gutierrez then hurt the other leg of Morales with a leg kick, and things were looking bleak for Morales at this point. Gutierrez landed yet another hard-low kick, and at this point, Gutierrez could barely stand. Gutierrez continued to unload with kicks to Morales against the cage, and referee Jason Herzog looked close to stopping the fight multiple times. Eventually, Gutierrez landed one more kick to the leg that dropped Morales, and the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Chris Gutierrez by TKO at 4:27 of Round 2
Chris Gutierrez fought a beautiful fight to open up this card. From the opening seconds of the fight he attacked the legs of Morales, and he never let up. This was the 10th leg kick knockout in UFC history. Gutierrez is now 3-1 in the UFC. He called out Andre Ewell and Brett Johns in his post-fight interview.
CASEY KENNEY (13-2-1, 136) VS LOUIS SMOLKA (16-6, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
In the opening minutes of the first, the fighters were constantly meeting in the pocket. Smolka was throwing a lot of shots to the body. As Smolka moved forwards, Kenney hurt him with a counter right hand, and as Smolka tried to change levels, Kenney grabbed the neck and submitted him with a one-armed guillotine.
WINNER: Casey Kenney by guillotine at 3:03 of Round 1
It was a short fight, but Kenney showed off a lot of his skills while it lasted. He mentioned Henry Cejudo in his post-fight interview, and while that fight seems unlikely for a great number of reasons, this performance may have earned him an opportunity against a ranked opponent in his next fight.
TIM ELLIOTT (16-10-1, 126) VS BRANDON ROYVAL (10-4, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
Elliott secured a takedown, seconds into the fight. He searched for an early submission, and Royval used the opportunity to get up. Royval attempted an armbar, which Elliott escaped as they separated. Royval landed a spinning back fist, and Elliott responded with a kick to the body. Elliott took Royval once more, searching for an armbar, which Royval eventually escaped. The round ended as Royval searched for an armbar of his own.
Royval worked his way to top position early in the second round. Elliott scrambled on top, and then returned to the feet. He took Royval down once more and transitioned to top control as he attempted a guillotine. Royval avoided the submission attempt from Elliott and took the opportunity to lock in a submission of his own, an arm-triangle, and Elliott tapped out.
WINNER: Brandon Royval by arm triangle at 3:18 of Round 2
The flyweight division continues to entertain. The pace of this fight was insane. The number of takedown and submission attempts from both men added up quickly throughout the eight-minute duration of the bout. Both fighters looked exhausted by the second round. Royval was very upset by his performance in his post-fight interview, consistently noting that he is here to make money, and will have to go to work tomorrow. Cormier did his best to cheer him up, noting that Royval’s name will be in the flyweight rankings come Monday.
KLIDSON ABREU (15-4, 206) VS JAMAHAL HILL (7-0, 205.5) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Hill knocked Abreu down in the opening seconds of the fight with a right hook, but he recovered well. Hill threw a knee to the body in the clinch that floored Abreu, and Hill followed up with strikes until referee Herb Dean stopped the fight.
WINNER: Jamahal Hill by TKO at 1:51 of Round 1
Terrific finish for Jamahal Hill, who hurt Abreu early, and finished it with a knee to the liver not long after. He is now 8-0 professionally, and 2-0 in the UFC.
DANIEL RODRIGUEZ (11-1, 170) VS GABRIEL GREEN (9-2, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
Rodriguez was originally scheduled to fight Kevin Holland, but Green stepped in on short notice after Holland withdrew from the bout with an injury earlier this week.
Rodriguez looked sharp with his boxing early, showcasing a consistent and effective jab. Green began to throw more kicks as the fight progressed, with some kicks to the body. Rodriguez threw a hard kick to the leg in the final minute of the round. Close round, where both men seemed to be feeling each other out. I gave the edge to Rodriguez.
Green came out of the gates for round two aggressively. Rodriguez slowed him down by continuing to throw out that jab. Rodriguez landed a series of hard lefts, and the action really started to pick up. Rodriguez was landing bombs, but Green just ate them and continued to march forward. Green brought the pressure, but Rodriguez definitely landed the bigger strikes this round, and I had him up on the scorecards going into the final round.
Knowing he was likely down on the scorecards, Green continued to step on the gas in the third. Both men were landing some wild strikes, and the accumulation of Rodriguez’s strikes were starting to show on Green’s face. Rodriguez continued to find a home for his left hand, which was really the difference-maker throughout this fight. Rodriguez sealed the round with a late takedown. I scored the fight 30-27 Rodriguez.
WINNER: Daniel Rodriguez by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
This fight really picked up in the second round. Green tried to make the fight a brawl, but Rodriguez maintained his composure and kept firing off that jab and left hook to maintain control of the pace. He is now 2-0 in the UFC and has won his last 8 fights.
KATLYN CHOOKAGIAN (13-3, 126) VS ANTONINA SHEVCHENKO (8-1, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
Shevchenko started the fight with a pair of kicks to the body, but the second one got caught, and Chookagian took her down, took her back, and began searching for the rear-naked choke. Shevchenko avoided the choke attempts but ended up in Chookagian’s full mount. Chookagian began to throw down the strikes, and Shevchenko gave up her back once more to avoid them. Shevchenko worked her way back to the feet as time expired. This was a clear 10-8 round for Chookagian.
Chookagian began the second round by pressuring Shevchenko to back against the cage, then took her down and began to work from full mount. She controlled the rest of the round from this position. 20-16 Chookagian going into the final round.
The third round was more competitive, with the majority of the round taking place on the feet. Neither woman was really pulling ahead, and Chookagian returned to the game plan, pursuing the takedown once more. Shevchenko defended the initial takedown threat, but Chookagian got her down with a body lock with thirty seconds remaining and very clearly won this fight.
WINNER: Katlyn Chookagian by unanimous decision (30-25 all)
It’s not too often one associates Chookagian with wrestling, but that is exactly the area she dominated Shevchenko in during this fight. This was complete domination, and the best Chookagian has looked thus far into her UFC tenure. She is now 7-3 in the UFC.
The UFC aired graphics in memory of George Floyd and Dr. Albert Capanna to begin the main card.
HANNAH CIFERS (10-4, 115.5) VS MACKENZIE DERN (7-1, 115.5) – STRAWWEIGHT
Cifers pressured Dern in the clinch to begin the fight. Dern pursued the takedown after a brief striking exchange, and Cifers seemed to welcome it. Dern pursued the leg to drag Cifers back to the ground, transitioned to a kneebar, and picked up the first-round submission.
WINNER: Mackenzie Dern by kneebar at 2:36 of Round 1
Dern took some shots early, but the second they went to the ground, Cifers entered Dern’s world. This was the first leg lock finish by a woman in UFC history. After a weight miss and a loss in her last two bouts, things really could not have gone any better for Mackenzie Dern here, as she re-established herself as a dangerous strawweight. She is now 3-1 in the UFC.
ROOSEVELT ROBERTS (9-1, 156) VS BROK WEAVER (15-4, 157.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Weaver missed weight by 1.5lbs and was fined 20% of his purse.
Roberts was the more effective striker at range, so Weaver was doing his best to close the distance and get Roberts against the cage. They were talking to each other in the cage, perhaps a result of their heated stare down the day prior. Roberts was pulling ahead on the strike count, but Weaver had a decent amount of control time against the cage. Roberts attempted a standing guillotine, which Weaver avoided, but ended up giving his back to Roberts as the round ended. 10-9 Roberts.
Roberts took Weaver down after a right hand that knocked Weavers head back. Roberts worked from half guard, before transitioning to top mount. He took Weavers back and attempted the rear-naked choke. He initially couldn’t get it, and just started unloading with strikes, forcing Weaver to give up his neck again, and Roberts got the rear-naked choke finish as Weaver tapped out.
WINNER: Roosevelt Roberts by rear-naked choke at 3:26 of Round 2
Weaver did his best to combat Roberts with a pressure heavy game plan, but it was not enough to neutralize Roberts’ edge in the striking and grappling departments. This was a really good performance from Roosevelt Roberts, who has had an impressive UFC run thus far. Roberts is now 4-1 in the UFC.
SPIKE CARLYLE (9-1, 150) VS BILLY QUARANTILLO (13-2, 149.5) – CATCHWEIGHT
Carlyle rushed Quarantillo to begin the fight, landing a push kick to the head of a ducking Quarantillo, before taking him down and taking his back. Quarantillo ate some hard hammer fists, and avoided a pair of submission attempts, before transitioning to top position. Carlyle scrambled back on top and spent the majority of the rest of the round in this position. With seconds left in the round, Carlyle just got up and walked away, and Quarantillo ran up and dropped Carlyle with a left hand. No, really. Nonetheless, I thought Carlyle won the round.
Quarantillo hurt Carlyle with an elbow and brought him down to the ground. Carlyle worked his way on top once again. They returned to the feet with two minutes remaining, and Quarantillo landed a solid knee to the body. Carlyle looked tired, but he took Quarantillo down with a single leg. Quarantillo threw up a triangle, and switched to an armbar, but could not get the finish. Another wild round. I had it 19-19 going into the third round.
Carlyle brought the fight back to the ground to start the third, but Quarantillo worked his way on top, rained down some solid strikes, attempted a choke, and then Carlyle flipped things around once more. Both men looked exhausted by this point in the fight. Quarantillo took his back once more, but Carlyle fended off Quarantillo’s choke attempts. They ended the fight by throwing strikes at one another against the fence, completely exhausted. I scored the fight 29-28 for Billy Quarantillo.
WINNER: Billy Quarantillo by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
This was a really entertaining fight. The momentum swung back and forth, and both men were looking for the finish all fight long. The fight really comes down to how you score the razor-close second round, but I thought Quarantillo edged it out. He is now 2-0 in the UFC.
BLAGOY IVANOV (18-3, 1 NC, 255.5) VS AUGUSTO SAKAI (14-1-1, 259.5) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Ivanov landed a solid three strike combination that was probably the only notable occurrence in the first half of the round. Ivanov threw some jabs to the body, and Sakai responded with a kick to the body of Ivanov. Sakai connected with a number of kicks to the leg throughout the round. This was a pretty slow five minutes, but I scored it for Ivanov.
Sakai defended a takedown attempt from Ivanov following another leg kick. Sakai’s best weapons continued to be his kicks this round, which Ivanov’s hands were doing more damage. There were some powerful kicks to the body from Sakai that really rang out throughout the Apex. The leg kicks were starting to add up for Sakai by the end of the round, but Ivanov secured a takedown with thirty seconds remaining. I had it 19-19 going into the final round.
Sakai was the busier fighter in round three, and the leg kicks and body shots really seemed to have had an effect on Ivanov. Ivanov seemed to have secured a takedown, but Sakai grabbed the fence and kept the fight on the feet. Daniel Cormier screamed out at the top of his lungs at the cage grab, which every person in the Apex undoubtedly heard. Ivanov landed a big left hand against the cage, which Sakai just ate. This was a close fight, and both fighters had their moments. I scored it 29-28 for Augusto Sakai.
WINNER: Augusto Sakai by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
The cage grab in the third round was probably severe enough to warrant a point deduction, but it didn’t happen, and Sakai ultimately had his arm raised. Both fighters ate some hard shots throughout the fight, but both men were incredibly tough and fought hard even as their gas tanks were low. Sakai is now 4-0 in the UFC, and is tied with Francis Ngannou for the longest current win streak in the division.
TYRON WOODLEY (19-4-1, 241) VS GILBERT BURNS (18-3, 255) – WELTERWEIGHT
This marked Woodley’s first fight since March of last year, where he lost the UFC Welterweight Championship to Kamaru Usman. Burns had fought four times in that span.
Burns overwhelmed Woodley with strikes early, knocking him down in the opening seconds, and began to work from full mount with four minutes remaining in the round. Woodley was busted open above his left eye, and Burns attempted a one-armed guillotine, which Woodley shook off. Woodley scrambled out from the bottom with two minutes remaining. The cut above Woodley’s eye looked massive. Burns landed a heavy low kick and ended the round with a body kick and a solid left hook. Fantastic round for Gilbert Burns.
Woodley’s cut still looked pretty bad going into the second round. Big right hand from Woodley connected. Burns took Woodley down at the halfway point of the round. Woodley picked himself back up against the cage, and Burns landed a pair of right hands as Woodley got up. Burns defended a trip attempt from Woodley, and I had him up 20-17 going into the third round.
Burns landed a right hook and was looking very confident in this third round. Burns landed another low kick that Woodley acknowledged. He invited Woodley into his guard, which Woodley declined. Another low kick from Burns landed that Woodley clearly felt. Another round for Gilbert Burns, who was really pulling away with this one.
Woodley defended a well-timed takedown attempt from Burns to begin the fourth. They spent the first half of the round in a stalemate against the cage. Burns landed a solid knee to the body. Burns exploded with another combination, dropping Woodley with a right hand against the cage. Woodley recovered quickly, but things could not have been going much worse for him at this point. Burns took Woodley down one more time. He attacked the neck of Woodley as the round ended but couldn’t get the finish. 40-35 Burns going into the final round.
Most of the first half of this round was spent against the cage. Referee Herb Dean broke them up with about two minutes remaining. They soon returned to the clinch battle against the cage. Woodley broke away with a minute remaining. He was unable to land anything of significance, and as time expired, there was no doubt who won this fight.
WINNER: Gilbert Burns by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-44, 50-44)
This was pure domination for Gilbert Burns. He dominated the fight everywhere it went and clearly won every round. This was really an amazing performance against the former welterweight champion. After this performance, there will be a discussion of Burns challenging Kamaru Usman, and I think he is the worthiest contender following this performance, as well as his knockout of Demian Maia. He is now 4-0 since moving to the UFC welterweight division.
As for Tyron Woodley, this was a really tough loss that mirrored his last performance against Kamaru Usman. It is tough to predict what will be next for the now 38-year-old former champion, but personally, I would still like to see him face Colby Covington.