MMA / ufc235

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Usman out-hustles Woodley to claim Welterweight strap
So Saturday night saw the crowning of a new UFC welterweight king and the first organisation's African champion, Kamaru Usman. I loved this fight. Pure MMA Going into the match-up Usman confessed that he wasn't the best striker in the division, he wasn't the best wrestler or Jui Jitsu guy. However, when it came to putting it all together, no-one does it better than him. This fight was a clear example that Usman's MMA skills are greater than the sum of their individual parts. Cardio machine Where Usman does stand out above his peers is his conditioning. Usman has a gas tank like no-one else in the welterweight division. It also just so happens that, the ability to stay the course, is one of Woodley's only weaknesses. Woodley is an explosive powerful fighter. He is a great wrestler with a hard right hand and blitzing style that can unsettle anyone. On top of that Woodley is a master tactician able to adapt his style to his opponent. Woodley has proven too much for some of the most dangerous fighters in the division, including Robbie Lawler, Demian Maia, Stephen Thompson and Darren Till. However the question mark around Woodley has always been his ability to perform in a grinding, grueling dogfight. His effectiveness as a fighter is disproportionately diminished when fatigued. The secret to Usman's success was causing Woodley to fatigue early. Pressure grappling From the outset, Usman applied the pressure. Pressing forward onto Woodley. However, unlike Till or Wonderboy who also got Woodley to backup, Usman wasn't afraid to close to gap and grapple Woodley. The grappling was key. Usman proved more than a match for Woodley in the wrestling department. He was able to draw Woodley into some inside fighting, trading body punches and knees. In the clinch, Usman was able to produce greater output. It was clear that prolonged periods of engaging and fighting suited him more than Woodley. What I liked most was every time the (over-zealous, in my view) referee Marc Goddard broke them up, Usman looked immediately to press Woodley. Tyron was never able to catch a breath. Crunch point The biggest moment of the fight came in the second round when Usman caught Woodley with a vicious left elbow on the break. Tyron was visibly rocked. Usman was immediately on him, tying Woodley up and slamming him to the ground. Usman quickly moved into full-mount and it was shocking to see such an accomplished wrestler as Woodley look so helpless and utterly dominated on the ground. Usman saw off the round on top of Woodley and it looked only a matter of time before the belt changed hands. No Quit Credit to Woodley though. Despite being utterly outclassed he showed he has no quit in him. Particularly in the fourth round. After Goddard had inexplicably stood the fighters up with Usman in a dominant position on the ground, the pair decided to trade on the feet. With Woodley pretty much spent and in desperation mode Usman caught him with a barrage of punches. Woodley looked out on his feet when the bell went however still managed to come out for the fifth and survival to hear the final bell. Formal shut out The judge's decision was a formality. The fight was a shut out. From Woodley threatening to clear out the division, all-of-a-sudden 170 is alive with possibilities. A grudge match between Usman and Covington looks likely. Woodley's teammate Ben Askren is right in the mix, along with the likes of Lawler, Till, Masvidal, Edwards and Wonderboy. Having just seen the greatest welterweight officially call it a day, it's good to see the division is still very much alive and kicking.
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