UFC on ESPN 9: Woodley vs. Burns Odds, Schedule, Predictions

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMay 30, 2020

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MAY 29: (L-R) Opponents Tyron Woodley and Gilbert Burns of Brazil face off during the UFC weigh-in at UFC APEX on May 29, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

The UFC returns to Las Vegas for a UFC on ESPN card that features Tyron Woodley and Gilbert Burns in a crucial welterweight fight as the main event. 

T-Wood is fighting for the first time since losing his 170-pound title to Kamaru Usman, while Burns comes into the fight as a slight underdog. However, wins over Demian Maia and Gunnar Nelson have him looking like a live dog against the former champion. 

Elsewhere on the card, Blagoy Ivanov and Augusto Sakai are set for a heavyweight collision. Ivanov has a reputation for being tough as nails, and Sakai has knockout wins in four of his last five fights, so it has all the makings of a slugfest. 

Here's the complete card set to take place at the UFC's APEX facility in Sin City. 


Main Card (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET)

  • Tyron Woodley (-165) vs. Gilbert Burns (+145)
  • Blagoy Ivanov (-105) vs. Augusto Sakai (-115)
  • Spike Carlyle (+110) vs. Billy Quarantillo (-130)
  • Roosevelt Roberts (-320) vs. Brok Weaver (+260)
  • Hannah Cifers (+350) vs. Mackenzie Dern (-440)

Prelims (ESPN, 6 p.m. ET)

  • Katlyn Chookagian (+115) vs. Antonina Shevchenko (-135)
  • Gabriel Green (+255) vs. Daniel Rodriguez (-310)
  • Klidson Abreu (+105) vs. Jamahal Hill (-125)
  • Tim Elliott (-155) vs. Brandon Royval (+135)
  • Casey Kenney (-270) vs. Louis Smolka (+230)
  • Chris Gutierrez (-120) vs. Vince Morales (+100)

Odds via Caesars Palace


Woodley Out to Show Championship Form

Right up to the moment Usman ragdolled Woodley to take away his championship, it seemed like T-Wood was nearly unbeatable at welterweight. It wasn't always pretty, but his ability to outwrestle anyone and cover distance with power whenever he wanted was hard to top. 

Usman shattered that perception, though. He brought the fight to the now former champion and asserted himself as the more dominant fighter in every phase of the game. 

Woodley chalks it up to a bad night and is prepared to showcase all of the skills that made him a formidable champion against his opponent on Saturday. 

"My goal is just to go out there and viciously remind everybody what I'm capable of, about the power, the explosiveness, the well-roundedness, the wrestling, the striking and the grappling and the IQ that I possess. That's my goal," said Woodley, per Thomas Gerbasi of UFC.com. 

Burns is an intriguing opponent. A former lightweight, he won't have the size advantage against Woodley, but he's a savvy grappler with heavy hands himself. However, Demian Maia, who has fought and lost to both fighters, gave the former Missouri wrestler the edge when it comes to power.

"Woodley's hands are pretty heavy. Burns is a good striker, but if he gets close, it's more likely for Woodley to land," the grappling specialist told Brett Okamoto and Marc Raimondi of ESPN. "Every time I say that, I need to give a disclaimer. I could say that and Burns could go and knock Woodley out. Burns has heavy hands, too. I know that. He caught me with a good one. But I know that Woodley's hands are heavier."

The 33-year-old has never fought competition on the level of Woodley, so this will be a big opportunity for him to assert himself in the welterweight title talks.

However, when two grapplers of this magnitude fight, it usually ends up being a stand-up affair as the wrestling cancels itself out. Give that advantage to Woodley, who will lull Burns to sleep then explode and finish the fight in typical Woodley style. 

Prediction: Woodley via second-round KO


Sakai Looking for Top 10 Ranking with Win Over Ivanov

Despite a 3-0 record in the UFC, Ivanov has something that Sakai wants—the little 10 that will appear to the left of his name on the broadcast. 

When looking at the two heavyweights, it is interesting to see the difference in their starts with the UFC. Ivanov is 2-2 in his first four fights with the company, but he's fought Junior dos Santos, Ben Rothwell, Tai Tuivasa and Derrick Lewis. 

That top-10 ranking has been forged by a respectable run of opponents that he's held his own against. Sakai, on the other hand, is unbeaten, but Ivanov will be his toughest test to date. 

"He has a great name. He's a great opponent, so I think a win over him puts me in the top 10," Sakai said, per Farah Hannoun of MMAjunkie. 

In his last bout, Ivanov withstood the punching power of Derrick Lewis to survive all three rounds and drop a decision. While that goes down as a loss in his record, it does show an inhuman ability to absorb punishment and keep going. 

If Sakai is planning on putting Ivanov away, it's going to be the result of a small miracle or a massive erosion of Ivanov's chin. 

Instead, this fight should be interesting to the final buzzer. Sakai is a high-output fighter for a heavyweight, especially one that is relatively close to the 265-pound limit. If Ivanov's hope is that he'll wear out down the stretch, he could be in for a surprise. 

This should be a back-and-forth contest, and neither man has suffered a knockout in his career. 

Prediction: Sakai via decision