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UFC 235 results: Kamaru Usman utterly routs Tyron Woodley, wins Welterweight title

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Kamaru Usman — The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 21 Welterweight tournament winner back in 2015 — won eight consecutive bouts over the course of the past three years to earn a crack at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight crown, challenging 170-pound kingpin, Tyron Woodley, at UFC 235 tonight (Sat., March 2, 2019) inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Sorry, Colby.

Usman’s performances weren’t always pretty, though. Indeed, seven of those eight victories were three-round decisions. Meanwhile, Woodley has been criticized heavily in the past by fight fans, as well as his boss, Dana White, for several lackluster performances himself. So, this five-round championship clash had all the makings of another snoozefest ... at least on paper.

And it kind of lived up to that billing, sorta, with Usman routing Woodley en route to a lopsided unanimous decision win, including a 10-8 round; however, it was Usman’s sheer dominance that was truly eye-opening.

In the opening round, Usman’s gameplan became clear early: Pressure Woodley, close the distance and don’t get lulled to sleep as he sets up his devastating right hand. Nothing of significance really landed or transpired in the first five minutes, but Usman sent a message that he was there to make Woodley uncomfortable.

Between rounds, Woodley’s corner implored their fighter to stop retreating and to move forward in the second stanza. But, less than 30 seconds into the round, Usman already had him pinned up against the cage, drilling him with a big elbow as he tried to circle out. And then once he did escape, Usman landed a thundering takedown, ending up in full mount with three minutes remaining in the round. Usman landed several hard shots on the face of Woodley, who was pinned underneath “Nigerian Nightmare,” holding on for dear life. Woodley began to try and buck out, but Usman landed sharp elbows that split his eye open. Usman angled for an arm-triangle choke, and nearly had it, but Woodley defended expertly until he was saved by the bell.

Usman worked hard the first 10 minutes — he was breathing heavy in his corner, while Woodley seemed like he just stepped out of bed. Nevertheless, Usman once again took the fight to Woodley immediately, pressing him up against the cage and drilling his rib cage with repeated, unblocked short shots. This went on for most of the round, with the referee separating them twice and putting them back into the center of the cage, which is where Woodley finally landed a solid right hand that he had been unable to unleash. The fight soon went back to the fence, though, which was welcomed by a chorus of boos from the fans in attendance.

Heading into the championship rounds, it was clear that Usman was up big on the scorecards. Din Thomas, Woodley’s trainer, didn’t mince words — move forward ... or else. But, seconds into the fourth frame, Woodley whiffed on a standing guillotine choke, allowing Usman to once again gain top position and grind “The Chosen One” a bit more. Referee Marc Goddard got bored, though, and stood them up, admonishing Usman that “this is a fight.” That must have set him off because Usman went to work, hitting Woodley with everything but the kitchen sink: Hard uppercuts, hellacious crosses, brutal knees and more. It was a miracle Woodley was able to remain upright. Coming out for the fifth and final round, there was seemingly no sense of urgency on the part of Woodley, who angled for a weak standing guillotine choke before Usman dropped him to the canvas, his arm still trapped in Woodley’s armpit. He was eventually able to pop his head out and grind down Woodley to a battered old stump. Woodley had nothing left, unable to will himself back to his feet to land a fight-ending, come-from-behind haymaker.

Once again, it wasn’t the most aesthetically-pleasing fight to watch. But, it was utter domination of a dominant champion who heretofore reigned supreme for three years. Indeed, that was a clinical and flawless performance against a very dangerous and talented champion, one that most pundits and skeptics didn’t anticipate heading into this weekend.

For complete UFC 235: “Jones vs. Smith” results, including play-by-play updates, click here.