UFC on ESPN 9 Odds: Woodley Favored Over Burns, Toss-Up in Heavyweight Co-Main Event

Posted on: May 30, 2020, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: May 29, 2020, 10:37h.

The UFC returns to its Apex facility in Las Vegas on Saturday, as former welterweight titleholder Tyron Woodley takes on Gilbert Burns in the main event of UFC on ESPN 9.

UFC on ESPN 9 Woodley Burns
Gilbert Burns celebrates after a TKO victory over Demian Maia on March 14, 2020 at a UFC Fight Night event in Brasilia, Brazil. (Image: Buda Mendes/Zuffa)

The former champion enters the bout as a solid favorite, with PointsBet Sportsbook posting Woodley as a -190 pick to beat Burns (+150).

Woodley Ready to Rebound from Usman Loss

Woodley is returning to action after a layoff of about 15 months. Last time he fought, Woodley lost his welterweight crown to Kamaru Usman after having successfully defended the belt four times. According to Woodley, it took time for him to recover mentally from the crushing loss.

I had to deal with the fact that I lost my belt,” Woodley said during the UFC on ESPN 9 media day. “It was something that I didn’t expect to happen. I expected to retire as UFC champion after trying to chase down the record of Georges St-Pierre.”

Woodley (19-4-1) remains the No. 1 contender in the UFC welterweight division, even if the long layoff has put him on the back burner in conversations about the title picture. Now, a win over the sixth-ranked Burns (18-3) could put him at the top of the list for a rematch with Usman.

Burns Looking to Earn Championship Opportunity

To get that win, though, Woodley will have to stop the red-hot Burns, who has won five straight fights to put himself into the championship hunt. A win would mean just as much for Burns, who knows he is in for the toughest test of his career so far.

“I knew the next one would be a tough guy. It couldn’t be tougher,” Burns told MMA Junkie. “He’s the No. 1 contender and a former champion. I’m ready for whatever I have to go through. If I have to go five rounds, I’m ready to. I’m confident.”

Burns says he’s looking to make a statement by finishing Woodley, a tough task considering the former champion’s defensive prowess. But if he can do it, the Brazilian thinks a big performance might just get him a title shot.

“If I go out there and kill Tyron Woodley in a couple rounds, for sure I’m next in line,” Burns said. “If it goes to a tough fight or a split decision, maybe I’ll have to do another one.”

Heavyweights Augusto Sakai (-115) and Blagoy Ivanov (-110) enter the UFC on ESPN 9 co-main event without a clear favorite. Ivanov has shown he is one of the toughest men in mixed martial arts, while Sakai is surprisingly quick for a heavyweight. While there’s not much to separate the two on paper, Ivanov says he’s confident he can get a finish.

“I have more experience and that will be the key in this fight,” Ivanov told BJPenn.com. “I’m taking him into deep waters and he better be ready. His first loss in the UFC is coming on Saturday.”