UFC on ESPN 9 Betting Pick: Tyron Woodley vs Gilbert Burns

The UFC is back this Saturday after an entirely too long two week hiatus.

After a couple of weeks in Jacksonville, Florida, the company has headed back to their home base of Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC on ESPN 9 Woodley vs Burns.

The organization will be using their APEX facility to put on the fights and we will have a smaller Octagon for Saturday’s fights than we are used to seeing in a UFC event.

The diameter for the cage this weekend will be 25 feet. We are used to 30 so this is a significant difference. Should this be a concern for either fighter in our main event? Possibly, yes.

Tyron Woodley does have a habit of backing up to the cage and pulling opponents into his power. Woodley is still the bigger man in this fight against the former lightweight fighter, Gilbert Burns.

The Brazilian, Burns, is a multiple-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion who has speed and power in his hands. Gilbert also has Uncle Mo’ on his side, bigtime.

He has won 5 fights in a row while Tyron Woodley is a year-removed from by far the worst loss of his career when Kamaru Usman bullied him in the grappling department for 25 excruciating minutes.

Before that, he was the man, and losing to Usman is something that virtually everyone does. So, has he really fallen off?

Is Gilbert Burns getting this fight with Woodley at the perfect time? Burns is the popular pick among the casuals. That’s for sure.

  • How much have they moved the betting line, though?
  • Where are the wise guys putting their money?

Let’s take a look at the betting odds brought to us by BetOnline.AG and make our predictions on the main event of the UFC on ESPN 9, Tyron Woodley vs Gilbert Burns.

Tyron Woodley (-182) vs Gilbert Burns (+157)

Maybe Tyron Woodley needed a year off after a fight like that. He was dominated so badly, his confidence was in more danger than his body as he recovered.

  • Woodley didn’t take a lot of brutal shots to the head in that fight so even at the age of 38, I don’t believe the chin of Tyron Woodley will be an issue.
  • Woodley has received a lot of flack about the time he has dedicated to his rap music and the alleged lack of quality of said music.

Sometimes, a step back and a shift of focus is exactly what a professional needs to clear their head and get their confidence back. I know for a fact that the casuals are all over Gilbert Durinho Burns.

The betting line, though, has gone in the complete opposite direction. The betting odds for Tyron Woodley opened at (-145) and sharp bettors hastily beat up the books who in turn have retaliated with a line of (-182).

Early money is usually from the wise guys and the late money is usually coming from the action bettors/casual fans. It’s important to note that there are more of them right now than ever with other sports still on break.

You don’t usually get the optimal line value but betting late and even up until the opening bell has its advantages.

The weigh-ins and staredowns obviously tell us a lot but on fight night, we get to see their eyes and get a gauge on their emotional state and level as well. I don’t think this one is going to move very much more.

Handicappers are telling their people to bet on Woodley even with the line approaching (-200). The general public, though, are victims of recency bias for picking Burns. Or not.

We can’t go into this stuff thinking we “know”. That’s very egotistical and I definitely learned my lesson in that regard. We can favor a particular fighter but we, like everyone, have a price.

Mackenzie Dern, in all likelihood, is going to win on Saturday. You won’t see many sharp bettors lining up at the window to lay (-400) juice on her either.

Yes, I do like Woodley in this fight. I guess I tipped my hand early today but is the betting line now too expensive? To answer that question, we first have to handicap this fight ourselves.

5 reasons I think Woodley will win
1. Woodley is thicker and longer.
2. Woodley is the better wrestler.
3. He has more power in his hands.
4. He successfully defended the Welterweight Championship 4 times.
5. Woodley has shown to have a stronger chin.
5 reasons why Burns will lose
1. Burns does walk into right hands, Woodley’s specialty.
2. He likely can’t use his superior BJJ because of his inferior wrestling.
3. Has never faced a puncher as powerful as Woodley.
4. Lost to 2 fighters in the UFC who can’t compete with Woodley.
5. Gilbert has been KO’ed at 155 and this fight is at 170.

If these two fighters compete on 10 separate occasions, how many times does Tyron win? I say 7.

You can see why the sharp money is all over Woodley here. Remember, his betting line opened at (-145) which denotes only a 59% implied probability of winning.

Our opinion of Woodley winning 70% of the time is more than enough to warrant a decent-sized bet in this situation.

I believe Woodley is going to catch him right on the button with a powerful right hand. Timing and power don’t leave a fighter until well after they’re 40. That’s all he needs against Burns.

His takedown defense is north of 90%. He has only been finished by strikes once in his career and that was back in Strikeforce. Tyron has never been submitted.

We have the edge we need here to bet him and I think it’s safe to say we don’t with Burns.

One question I want to ask, though, is which of Tyron Woodley’s former opponents compare the closest to Burns?

Kelvin Gastelum is one. He has that springy style where he likes to hop in to generate power more so than step or pivot. They are both very quick which allows them to get away with that.

Woodley beat Gastelum but only by split decision. Hmmm…

Kelvin is now fighting at 185 pounds after failing to make 170 on multiple occasions and Gilbert Burns is former lightweight (155). If Gilbert can take the right angles, no pun intended, he can have some success striking with Woodley.

Burns is the busier fighter for sure but many a busy fighter have all of a sudden handcuffed themselves when Woodley is standing across from them with that laser beam of a right hand locked and loaded.

Those angles will be key because he has attacked powerful right-handed strikers directly down the centerline before and paid dearly. Dan Hooker knocked him out like that. He is a lightweight, albeit a very big one.

Tyron has a reach advantage of 3 inches. That’s a lot, especially for a couple of fighters south of 6 feet tall. If Gilbert is going to enter the range safely, he’s likely going to have to do it on the outside of Woodley’s right hand.

As long as Tyron moves slightly to his right most of the time, which he should be able to do knowing he has a strength, size, and wrestling advantage, he will force Burns to do something he doesn’t want to do.

That brings me to my final point.

Tyron is patient, man. Very patient, almost to a fault, only his record says otherwise.

There are times in the career of Gilbert Burns where he could have been much more patient. His lack of length leads him to lose patience in setting angles and then he charges down the middle.

Whew, you don’t want to do that against Tyron The Chosen One Woodley. I promise you that.

My Pick

In Conclusion

If we get this main event wrong, y’all, I’m telling you, I will be very disappointed.

I capped the fight myself without looking at the betting line. Then compared the two lines.

I didn’t make a play. I listened to what a lot of my colleagues had to say and just about everyone was in agreement on not only Tyron Woodley but also the positive value of his betting odds.

By that time, the line had moved but my opinion on the outcome of the fight never wavered as it has with several other fights on this card. Woodley can definitely go out there and lay an egg.

  • Burns has an excellent striking coach in Henry Hooft. He has fast feet and hands and loves volume.
  • Tyron Woodley has somehow gotten away with only landing 2.5 significant strikes per minute in his UFC career and still winning 75% of his fights with the company.

While his patience and Burns’ eagerness to score might put him down a round, Tyron Woodley’s timing and power will take him to victory.

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.