Following his loss to Derek Brunson three weeks ago, all the talk surrounded how Kevin Holland lost because he wouldn’t shut up. Well, he didn’t do much talking against Marvin Vettori and the results weren’t all that different, Holland dropping a clear unanimous decision over five rounds. Maybe the talking wasn’t the problem….
That isn’t to say Holland didn’t have some good moments at UFC Vegas 23. He opened up the fight with focused striking, attacking the body and legs of Vettori with kicks. Vettori’s pressure eventually broke through Holland’s defenses and outworked the lanky jaw jacker in the clinch and on the mat. In the process, Vettori broke the middleweight record for takedowns in a single contest with 11. It wasn’t the most exciting fight, but it was the safest route to victory for Vettori and the Italian slugger wasn’t going to take any chances in his second consecutive main event position.
Even with setting a record and securing a dominant win, it doesn’t do a lot for Vettori. In other words, he’s not getting a title shot with Israel Adesanya off this win. The blueprint against Holland was set by Brunson and Vettori only repeated what had already been established. He needed something memorable if he wanted to get another crack at Adesanya and it didn’t some about. Had this type of stylistic win come against his originally scheduled opponent, Darren Till, it would have been a different story as Holland is a lesser name. Unfortunately, he can only control what he can control.
As for the rest of the card….
- It was all that we expected it to be. Perhaps the two brightest featherweights in the division, Arnold Allen and Sodiq Yusuff put on a competitive contest for all three rounds. It was big moments in the first and second for Allen that swayed the judges in his favor, Yusuff taking the third after both were exhausted. Still unbeaten in the UFC, look for Allen to get a big name opponent.
- He may be cringey, but Julian Marquez has one hell of a killer instinct. Though he was likely ahead on the scorecards as he slugged things out with Sam Alvey, Marquez did want to trust his livelihood to the judges, snatching one of the funkiest RNC’s the sport has seen. Though hardly technical, his squeeze was tight enough to put Alvey to sleep in the second round.
- It’s safe to say Mackenzie Dern has arrived. While there have never been doubts about her talent, her focus and fight IQ left question marks. With four straight wins – capping it with a submission win over the proven Nina Nunes – those questions have evaporated. Dern looked for the early takedown – not an easy thing to do against Nunes – got it, and eventually secured an armbar. One more win and Dern could be fighting for a title.
- We all expected – and wanted – and standup battle between Daniel Rodriguez and Mike Perry. We got it, but it wasn’t much of a battle. Rodriguez teed off Perry, snapping his head back with punch after punch, Perry’s only effective offense proving to be a couple of takedowns. While Rodriguez deserves credit for looking as awesome as he did, Perry looks completely shot.
- Be careful what you wish for. We all wanted to see what would happen if Jim Miller and Joe Solecki hit the mat. It did and all we got was a lot of lay and pray. Solecki secured the top position for a greater period of time giving him the win helping fans forget about the fun standup battle that opened the contest.
- There were talks of Mateusz Gamrot being overrated following a loss in his UFC debut. Those talks should be quashed for now as Gamrot first frustrated Scott Holtzman, then he finished him off with a short punching combination that dropped Holtzman. The former KSW champion looked absolutely vicious in there.
- Given the lack of aggression seen from John Makdessi in recent years, no one saw him engaging in a blood and guts battle with Ignacio Bahamondes. Not only did he do that, he took the decision over an opponent with a full seven inches in height! The volume was pretty equal, but Makdessi landed the harder shots for one of the better fights of the year thus far.
- A lot can change in four years. After a hiatus that exceeded that time, Jarjis Danho came back looking like a different person, showing patience and a functional standup game against Yorgan de Castro. A HEAVY right hook turned out the lights on de Castro just past the halfway mark of the opening round, giving Danho his first UFC win.
- In a battle of hyped prospects, Jack Shore proved to be the superior fighter over Hunter Azure. Not that Azure showed poorly, taking the Welshman to a split decision and landing some heavy leather, but Shore’s takedowns and control – with just enough striking mixed in – proved to be enough to edge out Azure. Regardless, the stock of both should go up.
- Easily the most controversial contest of the night saw Luis Saldana squeak out a decision over Jordan Griffin. Griffin scored a plethora of takedowns and went after submissions, but the judges liked what Saldana was able to do on the feet. It would appear most of MMA-fandom that populates the internet disagreed, but thems the breaks.
- Da Un Jung reminded everyone he’s a youthful 205er everyone should keep their eyes on, completely dominating William Knight for the entirety of the 15 minutes. Perhaps it shows Knight needs a LOT more seasoning, but Jung deserves credit for the long period of control he exhibited, holding Knight down for over two-thirds of the contest.
- Coming off his first KO loss, Impa Kasanganay showed zero ill effects from the loss, taking the fight right to Sasha Palatnikov. Palatnikov kept it close through the first, but Kasangany found his back early amidst a scramble in the second and ended their night early with an RNC, making Kasanganay’s welterweight debut a success.
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