Tyron Woodley wants to introduce Gilbert Burns to championship-level competition.

Former UFC welterweight champ Woodley (19-4-1 MMA, 9-3-1 UFC) will return for the first time since losing his title in March 2019, when he takes on Burns in the UFC on ESPN 9 main event.

Since moving up to welterweight, Burns (18-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) has won three straight and is coming off a first-round knockout over Demian Maia.

But despite Burns’ impressive five-fight winning streak, Woodley, who’s gone five rounds on numerous occasions, thinks his in-cage experience will be a major deciding factor.

In fact, Woodley says he opted for this fight to be five rounds so he can take Burns to the trenches.

“This fight in particular with Gilbert Burns is, I’m confident because of who I am and what I’m doing,” Woodley told MMA Junkie Radio. “I’m aware of what he does, I’m aware of how he is – he’s got a nice little left hook, uppercut, got some knees and flying knees, kicks and punches and calf kicks. I haven’t really seen much different from him. I’ve seen his style, and I’ve kind of gotten it broken down, but the element of surprise is a mother(expletive).

“When you start doing stuff they don’t expect you to do, that’s what I think he won’t be prepared for. He won’t be prepared to get exhausted and drained, and I wanted this. I had the option to fight this fight in a three-round fight, and I wanted a five-round fight because he ain’t never fought five rounds before, not in the UFC, not to my knowledge.”

Woodley’s first three title defenses went the full 25 minutes. He went toe-to-toe with Stephen Thompson twice, then completely neutralized Maia’s grappling in the fight after.

So Woodley is looking to push Burns to the brink, in an area of the fight that Burns has never experienced before.

“So three rounds, starting off strong or loafing in the beginning to finish strong is not going to work, is not going to work in a five-round fight,” Woodley said, “That’s what my goal is: Just take him in that deep water and just trying to drown him.”

UFC on ESPN 9 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The event airs on ESPN and streams on ESPN+.