Kamaru Usman took control early, and never took his foot off the gas at UFC 235.
Tyron Woodley has been an excellent addition to the UFC from Strikeforce, with a 9-2 record in the promotion and four defenses of his welterweight belt. Woodley most recently shut down Darren Till’s bid to become champion with a dominant performance on the feet capped off by a D’Arce choke.
Kamaru Usman has been undefeated since 2013 and is 9-0 in the UFC. Known for thoroughly dominating his opponents, the Nigerian-born fighter has most recently defeated Rafael dos Anjos and Demian Maia.
Woodley struck first in the UFC 235 co-main event, as Usman attempted to move in and apply pressure. Usman then moved in for a single leg and got Woodley down, as the champ defended with a guillotine. However, Woodley wasn’t in position and had to release the choke, as Usman elbowed the thigh of the champ. Eventually, Woodley would make it back up, but Usman continued to pressure, and throw his right hand. His ability to close the distance was key, as it nullified the power of ‘The Chosen One.’ However, towards the end of the first, ref Marc Goddard ruled Usman wasn’t doing enough along the fence, and restarted the action in the middle, something he’d have to be wary of.
Round two saw Usman again move forward and push Tyron Woodley up against the cage. There, he threw knees to the thighs, while Woodley wasn’t able to get off any offense. Usman next landed a standing elbow, and a minute later, slammed the champ down and moved to mount. While Usman didn’t have a lot of space to work, he was able to continue to soften up Woodley. Later in the round, Usman worked for an arm triangle choke, which the champ defended — but a 10-8 round for Usman wasn’t out of the question.
The third saw Woodley swing hard with his right hand. In the clinch, he landed a knee to the body, but Usman then began firing off about a dozen unanswered body blows. For those, Woodley had no answer. However, the ref broke up the pair, as he had in the first, when he deemed Usman wasn’t doing enough. They’d re-engage, Usman would continue to dominate, throwing knees — but again, the ref broke them up. Woodley, meanwhile, was looking for the knockout blow. A dangerous game in a fight he was being outworked in.
The championship rounds started with Woodley likely down by all three rounds. To open the fourth, Woodley fired an uppercut, then pulled guard in a guillotine attempt. However, he slipped off, which put him in a bad spot. Stuck on the ground sitting against the fence, Woodley was at Usman’s mercy. Usman landed shoulder strikes, and was dominating – and again, Marc Goddard stood them up! With the comment to Usman “it’s a fight.” Woodley then woke up, and began swinging. That led to a back-and-forth exchange with both men landing, rocking the other! Yet Usman had the upper hand, and Woodley was nearly out on his feet.
Somehow, he survived the round. When Usman came out and drove Woodley into the fence, he defended with a guillotine. Usman eventually slammed him for yet another takedown. Woodley trapped him in half-guard. Usman went to work. This time he wasn’t stood up, and he stayed in control on top. Woodley survived to the bell, but he wouldn’t be the champion afterward.
Kamaru Usman def. Tyron Woodley by unanimous decision (50-44, 50-44, 50-45)