Brazilian jiu-jitsu blackbelt Gilbert Burns knows the ground game is an easier path for him to score a win against former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. However, if the fight were to remain stading, ‘Durinho’ does not feel like he would at a disadvantage standing.
Paired up to take the ‘Chosen One’ this weekend, Burns has scored three knockout wins in his UFC career, including one against seasoned veteran Demian Maia in his last outing. In an interview with Combate, Gilbert made it clear that he would love to be the first one to ever submit Woodley, but won’t shy away from a striking match, too.
“I want to grapple with him, because he gets tired on the bottom. He doesn’t like to be on the bottom and he defends takedowns well. I think that if I mix things up well – use my kicks, my boxing, use my hands fast and try to move around a lot – I’ll be able to score a takedown and bother him. I’m improving and I’ve been feeling more well-rounded and relaxed. Even if I don’t take him down, he’ll be on alert and it’ll be easier for me to land a kick or a punch. I want to mix things up and pressure him in the first and second rounds.”
“He reminds me of Michel Prazeres. Not because of his style, but physically. He’s a short, strong guy with more reach than me. It’s complicated, because when he’s within my reach, I’m within his. I have to change the levels and use my kicks, because my leg reach is longer. I’ve been studying his fights and he spares his gas a lot. He does something, then he stops and controls. I want to take advantage of that, get him tired in the first and second rounds. I think I’ll be able to get him down and scramble with him in the third and fourth rounds. Then I’ll be able to score good positions and maybe a submission. That’s how I see this playing out.”
Should the fight not hit the ground, though, Burns still has a backup plan for that scenario, which is to simply go for the knockout. According to Durinho’s observations, Woodley might have a strong body and a durable chin, but a KO victory is still within reach.
“He doesn’t like to move around. He starts and stops. I want to make him move, even if that makes me suffer a little. If he sprawls and I try to grab a leg, I know he won’t recover that wasted energy. From then on, his hands won’t be so monstrously powerful in the next rounds. My goal is to grapple, but I think I can knock him out. It’s not even just about the chin, but a guy with a strong body and a steady stance is able to remain standing even while rocked. I don’t doubt that my hand will connect. I want to submit him because he has never been submitted before, but if I land, no man can take that. I will and he will sit down.”
Currently on a five-fight winning streak, Gilbert Burns (18-3) scored wins over Olivier Aubin-Mercier, Mike Davis, Alexey Kunchenko, Gunnar Nelson and Demian Maia in his last outings. The 33-year-old’s last loss came in July 2018, when he was knocked out by Dan Hooker.
UFC on ESPN 9 takes place this Saturday in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 30. Outside the main event, between Woodley and Burns, the card is set to feature a heavyweight bout between Blagoy Ivanov and Augusto Sakai, and a women’s flyweight fight between former title challenger Katlyn Chookagian and Antonina Shevchenko.