Former UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley made one of his first media appearances today in months on “The Mystic Hour.” With UFC 258: Usman vs. Burns right around the corner, Woodley, having gone 50 minutes with the two gave his thoughts on the match-up among his return.
Woodley, in his recent welterweight stint, has undergone a string of losses dating back to March 2019 where he lost his belt to Kamaru Usman. More than a year later, he would lose to rising prospect Gilbert Burns and then to outspoken rival, Colby Covington.
4 months later, Woodley reflects on his “learning streak” to the best in the world.
“I trained so hard, I was ready.” Woodley told MMA Island. “In my mind, my toughest and most difficult opponents were guys who I had already fought… and to lose to the last 3 guys I took those lessons to. You only lose if you don’t learn and grow from it. I feel like I’ve learned, grown from my last couple of fights.”
“The Chosen One’s” last couple of fights (excluding Covington) had him going 10 rounds back-to-back with this weekend’s Pay-Per-View headliner at UFC 258. It’s safe to say nobody has quite the insight that Woodley has on the Usman vs Burns fight.
“You know what’s funny?” Woodley chuckled. “I think if Usman loses, he will get a rematch.”
“[The UFC is] trying their hardest to push him. No disrespect to Usman, he’s a good guy. You can spend so much money trying to force a star on us and it ain’t happening. Right now I feel like it’s being forced.”
“That’s when Ronda [Rousey] lost, that’s when Paige [VanZant] lost, that’s when Sage [Northcutt] lost. That’s when Nate Diaz beat Conor McGregor. That feeling feels very familiar to me.”
Deja Vu flooded Woodley’s mind of past upsets and he predicts the duel of former teammates will end with Gilbert Burns on top.
“Gilbert is tough. He’s a better Grappler. He’s a harder puncher. I don’t think Usman was winning the ground wars against Gilbert in the practice room. When you got a guy who knows that, he can strike a little bit more efficiently because even if you take him down you know he got a leg lock game. If you take him down, you take his back, armbar, rear-naked choke, he’s very high level. Usman has to think about that at all times. I think Gilbert is going to come after him hard. He got this chance to be a champion. I think it’s a good fight.
Although Woodley’s verdict is that Burns will wear the crown of undisputed champion, he has praise for the man who took that title away from him.
“Usman is very consistent, especially with making changes. He’ll go for a strike in and you know in the Colby [Covington] he didn’t have to go away from the straight punches. He had to go for a shot. In other fights like against Leon Edwards, he had to go for a shot to actually settle up to be successful in striking which took him back to the shot. Before you knew it, the time expired and Leon ran out of time trying to win the fight. If I had to say Usman was great in anything, he’s great at that.”
Do you agree with Tyron Woodley? Will Gilbert Burns beat Kamaru Usman at UFC 258?