Kamaru Usman Beats Tyron Woodley by Decision; Wins Welterweight Title at UFC 235

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2019

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 02: Kamaru Usman of Nigeria faces Tyron Woodley in their UFC welterweight championship bout during the UFC 235 event at T-Mobile Arena on March 2, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Kamaru Usman is officially the new UFC welterweight champion with a unanimous-decision win over Tyron Woodley in the co-main event of UFC 235 in Las Vegas on Saturday.

The Nigerian Nightmare dominated the champion from bell to bell with a strong combination of wrestling, dirty boxing and relentless pressure.

Usman was committed early to pushing the pace in the fight. He started off with a takedown attempt that turned into a guillotine submission attempt from Woodley. However, it was Usman's aggression that stood out most as the fight got off to a competitive start. 

Shaheen Al-Shatti @shaunalshatti

Kamaru Usman is having a lot of success dictating where this fight takes place. Up to Woodley to make adjustments. 10-9 Usman. #UFC235

That pressure would start to get to Woodley in the second round. Usman clinched up the champion and took him for a ride with a clinch throw that saw him wind up in mount. From there, he went to work banking damage on his opponent's face landing a steady trickle of short punches and elbows. 

He wasn't able to get the finish, but the precedent had been set that it was Usman's fight to lose. 

UFC @ufc

HARD elbow by Usman lands, followed by a HUGE takedown! @Usman84Kg is putting the pressure on here in round 2! #UFC235 https://t.co/cwiBtpPFH4

The third round would see Usman take the fight to the champion again. Instead of the ground it was against the cage where the Nigerian Nightmare decided to do his damage. At one point Usman ripped off 20 unanswered shots to the ribs as Woodley offered little in the way of resistance. 

Brett Okamoto @bokamotoESPN

It's probably 30-26 Kamaru Usman after three. Tyron Woodley doesn't seem to have a lot of answers, or urgency. Ten minutes is a long time for a guy like Woodley to turn it around, but these body shots are adding up and he looks demoralized.

All the punishment added up in the fourth round as Usman's relentless pressure finally broke the levy and nearly picked up the finish with massive uppercuts that turned Woodley into a bobblehead. 

UFC @ufc

Throwing the kitchen sink in round 4!! Back-and-forth they go!! #UFC235 https://t.co/fk0JsZKb8i

The fifth and final round was a victory lap for the new champion. He mostly controlled top position over a clearly exhausted and resigned Woodley to close out an incredible performance. 

Usman ends the third-longest reign over the welterweight division. Woodley's four title defenses were only bested by Georges St-Pierre (nine) and Matt Hughes (five).

This moment is the culmination of a perfect 10-0 run since Usman joined the UFC in 2015. Now the challenge will be just how long he can hold on to the belt in a division that Woodley was able to run for a few years.

Who he'll have to prove himself against first will be an interesting decision for the UFC. On one hand, champions of Woodley's stature have traditionally received immediate rematches. On the other, Woodley wasn't exactly an exciting champion, and there's a rivalry brewing between Usman and the No. 1 contender Colby Covington already.

"After I'm done with Woodley, if he plays his cards right, he has to beg me now," Usman said of Covington to reporters. "Because five times, I've been offered that fight. I've accepted all five, and he's declined all five. He has to beg me."

Regardless of who the UFC chooses, the welterweight division has a new face, new name and new energy at the top.


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