5 takeaways from UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Burns
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Gilbert Burns defeated former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley via unanimous decision in the UFC Fight Night headliner Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

Here are five takeaways from the event.

Burns is the real deal

If you weren't on the Burns bandwagon before Saturday, you're probably on it now.

Heading into his first UFC main event, "Durinho" was still somewhat unproven. His biggest victory to date was a first-round knockout over a 42-year-old Demian Maia in March. It was impressive, but it didn't necessarily indicate that Burns could contend with the best of the best at welterweight.

But against Woodley, a former longtime titleholder, Burns picked up the biggest win of his career and left no doubts that he's indeed a championship-caliber fighter.

Burns is now 4-0 since moving up to the 170-pound weight class last year, and his evolution has been remarkable. He joined the UFC in 2014 primarily as a jiu-jitsu practitioner, but now he's equally a threat in the striking department.

Even just in the past year, Burns' improvements have been obvious. He had some promise as a lightweight, but he was far from a top contender, and there was no indication that he would ever get there. But in his new division, it seems like Burns has more power in his fists, possibly because he doesn't have to cut as much weight, and he's been able to put everything together.

In a year, the 33-year-old went from beating unranked competitors like Mike Davis and Alexey Kunchenko to defeating a former champ in Woodley. If he continues to rise at this pace, it may not be long before Burns claims the welterweight throne.

Woodley should consider retirement

As outstanding as Burns was in the fight, Woodley put up a poor effort.

The former champ seemed flat-footed throughout the contest and he wasn't able to generate much offense. Though Woodley is considered a counterstriker, he sat back and waited even more than usual, and unlike in past fights, there was no huge blitz and no bombs thrown. It was an uninspiring performance, to say the least.

At this point, there's not much left for Woodley to do, and the chances of him bouncing back and rising to the top again seem slim. Is it possible that Woodley simply had two bad nights in a row? Maybe. But what seems most likely is that he's no longer able to beat the upper echelon of the welterweight division.

Woodley could choose to come back and fight Colby Covington, Leon Edwards, Michael Chiesa, or even Rafael dos Anjos, but I can't see it ending well for "The Chosen One" if he fights like he did against Burns. It's important to remember that Woodley is getting up there in age, and it's possible that his title loss to Kamaru Usman in March 2019 was the beginning of his decline.

The 38-year-old Woodley probably won't step away from the sport just yet, but it would be in his best interest to at least consider doing so before he further tarnishes his legacy.

Chookagian rebounds in the best way possible

Women's flyweight contender Katlyn Chookagian couldn't have bounced back from her February title loss to current champ Valentina Shevchenko any better. She dominated Valentina's sister, Antonina Shevchenko, in a grappling clinic and walked away with a unanimous decision win.

Chookagian said after the fight that she doesn't believe she avenged her loss to Valentina by beating her sister. But it has to feel like somewhat of a moral victory that she got the upper hand against the elder Shevchenko.

To make it even sweeter, "Blonde Fighter" attempted her first takedown in her UFC career - in her 10th Octagon bout. She scored a total of three takedowns against Shevchenko and appeared to realize early in the fight that grappling would be her best path to victory.

Chookagian easily delivered the best performance of her UFC career, earning multiple 10-8 rounds. And in a relatively shallow women's 125-pound division, she'll likely be one of the most talked-about contenders moving forward.

Dern is back, but still has a long road ahead

Top strawweight prospect Mackenzie Dern bounced back from the first loss of her professional career, tapping out Hannah Cifers in the opening round.

Dern is a world-class grappler with high accolades, but her jiu-jitsu success hasn't quite crossed over to the UFC since she signed with the promotion in 2018. Dern is now 3-1 in the Octagon, but her wins haven't always been the most impressive.

Saturday's victory was crucial for the Phoenix native to get her career back on track, and she showed once again that she's extremely dangerous on the ground. But the 27-year-old struggled in the opening moments of the bout and her striking appeared to be sloppy.

Dern got the victory, and that's the most important thing, but it remains clear that she has a long way to go before being a contender in the division.

Small cage is the way to go

The UFC used a 25-foot Octagon for the event instead of the typical 30-foot cage, as the UFC Apex is a small venue.

This wasn't the first time UFC athletes have competed in the small Octagon, nor should it be the last. Saturday's card further proved that the small cage almost always generates more action, with six of the 11 bouts ending inside the distance, while several others were full of excitement.

I ultimately don't see the UFC making the 25-foot cage the norm because it gives an advantage to pressure-heavy fighters like Burns. Woodley is a counterstriker and didn't have as much room to work with - that could be why his back seemed to be up against the fence more than usual.

That said, the promotion is all about finding ways to make its events as entertaining as possible, and shrinking the Octagon a bit would help with that. So, maybe the UFC would consider at least using the small cage a bit more often.

And, selfishly, it would be great to see every UFC fight from here on out happen in the small cage.

5 takeaways from UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Burns
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