As has typically been the case, Tyron Woodley isn’t getting the combat he wished, however it may simply be the one he must get him a shot at regaining the welterweight championship.

“The Chosen One” meets surging contender Gilbert Burns in the primary occasion of UFC on ESPN 9 in Las Vegas on Saturday, with Woodley’s No. 1 spot within the rankings doubtlessly on the road. Burns has been campaigning for high-profile opponents for the previous two years and after dispatching Brazilian legend Demian Maia inside a spherical this previous March, he now units his sights on a marquee identify.

That is Woodley’s first combat since dropping the welterweight title to Kamaru Usman 14 months in the past. Is he due for his rematch or is it time for Burns to construct his resume off of him? We’ll discover out tonight.

Within the co-main occasion, heavyweight veteran Blagoy Ivanov seems to be to carry off Augusto Sakai, the previous Bellator standout who’s 3-Zero to begin his UFC profession. A formidable efficiency will seemingly earn one in every of these huge males a top-10 rating.

Additionally on the primary card, Billy Quarantillo and Spike Carlyle meet in what needs to be a high-paced catchweight (150 kilos) bout, light-weight Roosevelt Roberts seems to be to proceed his successful methods towards Brok Weaver, and jiu-jitsu ace Mackenzie Dern meets Hannah Cifers in a strawweight encounter.

What: UFC on ESPN 9

The place: UFC APEX in Las Vegas

When: Saturday, Might 30. Your entire occasion will air on ESPN and ESPN+, with the six-fight preliminaries beginning at 6 p.m. ET, and the five-fight principal card beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

Tyron Woodley vs. Gilbert Burns

Tyron Woodley isn’t able to cross that torch simply but.

In his most up-to-date outing towards Kamaru Usman, Woodley seemed terrible, there’s no disputing that. A lot of the credit score has to go to Usman for taking the combat to Woodley and by no means giving him an opportunity to breathe, however it’s straightforward to digest the narrative that Woodley simply wasn’t himself in that combat primarily based on his gorgeous lack of output. As affected person as Woodley might be, he seemed totally misplaced at sure factors towards Usman.

Should you consider that’s merely how Woodley is now that he’s simply a few years shy of 40, then Burns is the simple choose right here. “Durinho” has been sensible at 170 kilos, exhibiting off his elite jiu-jitsu whereas including flashes of the potent putting that make him such a compelling twin menace. This isn’t an opponent that shall be intimidated by Woodley within the slightest. Burns goes in there to complete on Saturday.

I’m within the camp that thinks Woodley nonetheless has loads left within the tank and his ability set shouldn’t be forgotten simply because it was absent in a single essential combat. He’s nonetheless an excellent wrestler with a dynamite proper hand and regardless that his time on the shelf was due largely to circumstances outdoors of his management, the remainder will seemingly do him extra good than hurt.

A rejuvenated Woodley may very well be scary, and whereas I don’t know if he’ll have the ability to put away the sturdy “Durinho,” I do see him strolling out with a win on the scorecards.

Decide: Woodley

Augusto Sakai vs. Blagoy Ivanov

With respect to Blagoy Ivanov, youth shall be served on this matchup.

At 29 years outdated — 4 years Ivanov’s junior — Augusto Sakai seems to be to be peaking on the proper time and sharpening up his putting with each look. He doesn’t do something fancy and from a technical standpoint Ivanov could be superior, however Ivanov doesn’t have the ability of Sakai. Even when he frustrates Sakai early, I don’t know if Ivanov can keep away from that monster proper hand of Sakai’s for 3 rounds.

One concern for Sakai could be hurting Ivanov early and prematurely emptying his gasoline tank looking for a end. Ivanov has by no means been knocked out and his protection may trigger Sakai to put on himself out if he isn’t cautious. Together with his robust putting fundamentals, Ivanov may shock a tiring Sakai with a counter-punch KO of his personal.

Nevertheless, I’m leaning in the direction of Sakai turning into the primary fighter to complete Ivanov through strikes.

Decide: Sakai

Billy Quarantillo vs. Spike Carlyle

Shifted onto the primary card after Kevin Holland fell out of his bout with Daniel Rodriguez, Billy Quarantillo and Spike Carlyle are nearly as good a alternative as any to showcase that there are hidden gems at this occasion. Quarantillo is an aggressive grappler, whereas Carlyle has impressed along with his explosive and unorthodox standup type (to not point out his confidence on the mic).

It’s not fairly a basic grappler vs. striker matchup as Quarantillo will combine it up on the ft. He’s going to wish to shut the space and stress Carlyle, limiting the creativity of “The Alpha Ginger” whereas looking for journeys and takedowns. We’ll see how efficient Carlyle’s motion is towards a extra aggressive opponent than he confronted in his first UFC outing.

I truly like Carlyle’s probabilities of both outlasting Quarantillo along with his takedown protection or a minimum of having sufficient submission protection to hold in there on the bottom till he can scramble out. This can be a enjoyable matchup on paper and I feel it ends with Carlyle scoring one other knockout win.

Decide: Carlyle

Brok Weaver vs. Roosevelt Roberts

Each of those guys have nice dimension at 155 kilos they usually’ve proven they’re snug going the space if the early end isn’t there. Brok Weaver hasn’t misplaced in MMA in virtually 4 years and Roosevelt Roberts has by no means been completed.

Roberts is trending upward. After being outclassed in his first profession loss to Vinc Pichel, “GoGetta” seemed improved in all points in his subsequent win over one other veteran in Alexander Yakovlev. Benefiting from your bodily items is usually a tough factor for lengthy, rangy fighters, however it seems to be like Roberts is figuring it out.

One other factor to love about Roberts is how properly he paces himself. The third spherical is often a superb one for him so if this combat is shut by way of the primary two frames, Roberts is aware of the way to save his finest for final. Weaver isn’t any slouch within the cardio division both. Nevertheless, his lack of a extra well-rounded recreation will price him right here.

Roberts by choice.

Decide: Roberts

Mackenzie Dern vs. Hannah Cifers

Hannah Cifers isn’t a simple bounce-back opponent for Mackenzie Dern. If Dern hasn’t shored up her putting deficiencies, she’s going to be consuming counters and quick combos for 15 minutes.

When the 2 meet within the cage, anticipate Dern to be the larger fighter, which is able to go a good distance in the direction of her imposing her will on “Shockwave.” Cifers has some pop, however Dern has proven that she will take a punch even when her personal standup is a piece in progress, and he or she’ll take up some injury if it means she will come up with Cifers and take this one to the bottom.

Within the grappling division, Cifers is a gamer, however her inherent toughness will solely take her up to now towards a jiu-jitsu practitioner of Dern’s caliber. Dern goes to tie Cifers up in some unspecified time in the future and the submission shall be there for the taking.

Decide: Dern


Antonina Shevchenko def. Katlyn Chookagian

Daniel Rodriguez def. Gabe Inexperienced

Klidson Abreu def. Jamahal Hill

Brandon Royval def. Tim Elliott

Louis Smolka def. Casey Kenney

Vince Morales def. Chris Gutierrez