In a dominant changing of the guard atop the welterweight division, Kamaru Usman dismantled Tyron Woodley in stunning fashion to claim the 170-pound title at UFC 235.
Saturday's co-main event at T-Mobile Arena turned out to be a five-round mauling as Usman (15-1) exceeded his hype coming in by staying unbeaten in UFC and recording his 10th straight win. The native of Nigeria took home a unanimous decision (50-44 twice, 50-45) to halt Woodley's title reign at four defenses. CBS Sports also scored the bout 50-44 for Usman.
"How long have you been telling them now that can't nobody hang with me?" Usman said to UFC commentator Joe Rogan after the fight. "I have been wanting this fight. I will be honest, I might not be the best striker in the world, I might not be the best pure wrestler in the world, but when it comes to mixing this sh-- up, I'm the f--ing best welterweight on the planet right now."
Woodley (19-4-1) was never in the fight. Outside of an exciting two-way brawl in the final minute of Round 4 in which Woodley was lucky to finish, the fight was all Usman, all the time, thanks to his relentless pressure.
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"Kamaru came out and he brought it," Woodley said. "Sometimes you have those fights in the Octagon where you feel like it's a bad dream. You see the opportunities but you don't take them. He came out prepared."
Usman controlled the majority of the fight from the clinch and eventually on the ground after taking down the typically stubborn Woodley, who entered the fight with the highest takedown defense percentage at over 97 percent. From there, he took advantage of every situation with non-stop flurries of body shots and short elbows.
"He had a great game of taking shots with punches and takedowns," Woodley said. "He was very heavy on top. Hats off to him, I was prepared for this fight. Shout out to him. Hopefully we can run this back and I can have a different performance."
The 36-year-old Woodley saw his corner implore him after each round to be more offensive and go for broke. But outside of a small handful of short right hands, the champion appeared to be in quick sand the entire night as Usman wore him down to the body. A short elbow to the face off the clinch cut Woodley's right eye late in Round 2. The challenger later slammed Woodley in Round 5 to secure a dominant takedown and finish the fight just as strong as he began.
"First of all, let's give it up for Tyron Woodley. This is a champion who has come in here and has dominated, and a lot of people hate on that man," Usman said. "But when you talk about the greatest welterweights of all time, that man has to be in the conversation."
The only glimmer of hope Woodley had was an exchange of punches and knees from the feet late in Round 4 that led to Usman landing the cleaner blows and an exhausted Woodley barely able to walk to his corner after the round.
"This is what we work in our room. We have all kinds of bodies in our room and there is so much knowledge," Usman said. "I come from humble beginnings, all the way from Nigeria. I never dreamed I would be on a platform, on this stage."
Colby Covington, who crashed the party in Las Vegas over the weekend and called out UFC president Dana White in public for passing him over for a title shot, was ringside with a championship belt over his shoulder. The former interim titleholder, who interrupted Usman's public workout on Thursday by screaming into a megaphone, is now set to receive the first shot at Usman, according to ESPN's Brett Okamoto.
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