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Gilbert Burns won the initial sprint, and Tyron Woodley never recovered.
Burns earned a shockingly lopsided unanimous decision triumph over former champion Tyron Woodley in the UFC on ESPN 9 headliner at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday, his sixth consecutive triumph in the promotion. Burns received scorecards of 50-45 and 50-44 (twice) from the cageside judges in a contest that was never really in doubt.
The surging Brazilian seized momentum during an explosive exchange in Round 1 in which he hurt Woodley with a knee and powerful uppercuts in close quarters. As the former welterweight champion clung desperately to a leg, “Durinho” unloaded with a flurry of punches that opened a significant gash over his adversary’s eye. From there, Burns moved to full mount, and it looked like it might be a short night for Woodley.
“As I touch these guys, they feel it … I know I hit hard,” Burns said.
While Woodley (19-5-1, 9-4-1 UFC) survived that harrowing initial stanza, he spent the rest of the bout hunting for the perfect moment to unleash his powerful right hand. It never arrived, as Burns (19-3, 12-3 UFC) dictated the tempo and the terms of the action for 25 minutes. The Hard Knocks 365 representative planted Woodley on his back with a powerful takedown in the second round, attacked with hard low kicks throughout and dropped his man with a combination near the fence in Round 4. Fighting for the first time since relinquishing the 170-pound belt in March 2019, Woodley struggled to pull the trigger even though he was clearly behind.
Now, Burns believes he should leapfrog some of the other top contenders at 170 pounds.
“I knew I could do it. I was calling these guys out for a reason. I’m coming to stay,” he said. “My name has got to be the No. 1 contender. Those guys who make the rankings: Don’t play around.”
Sakai Earns Split Verdict vs. Ivanov
Augusto Sakai kept his unblemished UFC record intact, earning a closely-contested split decision triumph over former World Series of Fighting champion Blagoy Ivanov in the evening’s heavyweight co-main event. Two judges submitted 29-28 tallies for Sakai, while a third saw the bout 30-27 in favor of Ivanov. Sakai (15-1-1, 4-0 UFC) is now tied with Francis Ngannou for the longest active winning streak in the heavyweight division.
“I knew it was gonna be a hard fight, but I was sure I won the fight,” Sakai said of the scorecards.
Ivanov utilized his speed advantage early, exploding forward to land left hands and force tie-ups. Over the final 10 minutes, Sakai gradually took control thanks to a steady diet of kicks to the legs and body and a stiff lead jab. Ivanov (18-4, 1 NC, 2-3 UFC) struggled with his movement down the stretch, which hindered his headhunting ability.
“Whoever the UFC sends my way, I just want somebody ranked above me,” Sakai said.
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Quarantillo Outlasts Carlyle
A furious finish propelled Billy Quarantillo to a unanimous decision triumph over Spike Carlyle in a 150-pound catchweight affair. All three judges scored the fight 29-28 in favor of Quarantillo, who has been victorious in seven consecutive professional outings.
Carlyle (9-2, 1-1 UFC) came firing out of the gates, attacking with punches and ground-and-pound while controlling the majority of grappling exchanges in Round 1. “Alpha Ginger” was unable to maintain that pace, however, and after a competitive second frame, Quarantillo (14-2, 2-0 UFC) put an emphatic stamp on the fight in the final five minutes. The Tampa, Florida, native battered a fading Carlyle with heavy ground-and-pound, threatened multiple rear-naked chokes and closed the contest with heavy shots against the fence.
Carlyle saw a five-bout winning streak come to an end.
Roberts Batters, Taps Out Weaver
Roosevelt Roberts continues to establish himself as a prospect to watch, as he submitted fellow Contender Series competitor Brok Weaver in a lightweight pairing. The Adrenaline Martial Arts product brought a halt to the contest with a rear-naked choke 3:26 into the second round, ending Weaver’s eight-fight winning streak in the process.
Roberts (10-1, 4-1 UFC) had plenty of success landing straight punches on the feet, which prompted Weaver to try and force his way into the clinch on multiple occasions. Weaver (15-5, 1-1 UFC) was unable to do anything with that position, however.
Roberts set the tone for the finish early in Round 2, tagging Weaver with a counter right as his opponent came forward. “The Predator” was eventually able to take Weaver down, mount him and threaten with a rear-naked choke. Although Weaver resisted the first attempt, Roosevelt softened him up with heavy ground-and-pound and re-applied to the hold to elicit the tapout.
Dern Makes History with Kneebar Submission
Once Mackenzie Dern dragged Hannah Cifers into her world, it was only a matter of seconds before she was able to impose her will.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist submitted Cifers with a kneebar 2:36 into Round 1 of their featured strawweight clash. In rebounding from her first professional defeat, Dern secured the first leg-lock submission in UFC women’s history.
When Dern (8-1, 3-1 UFC) made her first entry into the clinch, it was Cifers (10-5, 2-3 UFC) who appeared to be the stronger fighter, as she resisted her opponent’s takedown while landing several hard knees. Shortly thereafter, Dern was able to execute a hip toss, and that was where Cifers made her fatal mistake. Instead of looking to escape, the North Carolinian elected to land ground-and-pound from above. That enabled Dern to lock in the fight-ending maneuver in short order.
“I went to jiu-jitsu,” Dern said. “And jiu-jitsu, of course, is always going to save me.”
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