UFC Fight Night: Max Holloway vs. Arnold Allen – Results and analysis

Bloody Elbow presents instant analysis for all the action out of UFC Kansas City, headlined by Max Holloway and Arnold Allen.

By: Dayne Fox | 2 months ago
UFC Fight Night: Max Holloway vs. Arnold Allen – Results and analysis
IMAGO Images / Matt Davies

Arnold Allen entered the event hoping for a change of the guard at UFC Kansas City. It didn’t play out that way for the Englishman, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t put up a spirited challenge for the flagship of the featherweight division, Max Holloway. In fact, it could be argued Allen neutralized the former champion better than anyone has in years, including reigning champion Alexander Volkanovski. The problem was he didn’t land enough offense to take advantage of the limited volume produced by Holloway. It wasn’t a classic Max Holloway performance, but it was enough to maintain his spot in the featherweight hierarchy. 

While the loss does set Allen back, it doesn’t look like it’ll be a major setback. He performed well enough that he hasn’t eliminated himself from title contention. After all, who else is there if Volkanovski successfully defends against Yair Rodriguez this summer? Ilia Topuria appears to be the only other featherweight with a path to fight Volkanovski for the title before Allen. If Allen can get back in the cage in a hurry and secure a win, he’ll probably won’t lose his spot in line. All he needs is for Volkanovski to hold onto to his title. 

If Rodriguez secures the upset, it’s likely Volkanovski will get an immediate rematch. If that doesn’t happen — unlikely, but there are paths for that to happen, including injury — Holloway will undoubtedly be the first in line to challenge Rodriguez, someone Holloway has already defeated. Otherwise, Max Holloway has shown no problem playing the role of ultimate gatekeeper. Maybe we’ll finally get that fight with the Korean Zombie that we somehow haven’t ever seen. 

UFC Kansas City Main Card 

The commentary team couldn’t stop saying “vintage” in terms of Edson Barboza’s performance. It’s hard to find a better word. The longtime striker punished Billy Quarantillo with leg kicks, forcing the grappler to make desperate attempts to close the distance. In the process, Barboza landed a knee that put Quarantillo out cold. In the process, Barboza reminded us all he’s not over-the-hill quite yet. Here’s hoping the UFC can match him up with some fun opponents to squeeze out some more performances like this. 

The light heavyweight division got some movement at the bottom of the rankings as Azamat Murzakanov upended Dustin Jacoby by landing series of power shots in the first two rounds. Murzakanov did fade hard in the third round, but managed to hold on to secure a decision. Struggling as he did down the stretch indicates there’s a hard ceiling for the Russian if he doesn’t change something. Regardless, Murzakanov got done what he needed to get done.

Ion Cutelaba is often one of the first names to come up when it comes to low IQ fighters. He proved how dangerous he can be if he fights intelligently, eliminating Tanner Boser with ease in the first round. Rather than blitz Boser as he usually does, Cutelaba used some savvy to catch Boser in a punching exchange before finishing him off with a series of punches.  

The main card opened with a pair of one-sided decisions with minimal swings of momentum. Rafa Garcia stunted longtime vet Clay Guida with a constant jab. In fact, that’s about all he needed to sweep the scorecards. Pedro Munhoz earned the respect of Chris Gutierrez early with a knockdown, resulting in Gutierrez being reluctant to engage from that point. Thus, Munhoz being the aggressor was enough for him to snap Gutierrez’s eight-fight undefeated streak and secure an upset victory for bantamweight top ten mainstay. 

UFC Kansas City Prelims

The UFC continues to disrespect the flyweight division. Not only did they relegate Matheus Nicolau and Brandon Royval – a fight expected to determine the next number one contender – to the prelims, they didn’t even make it the featured prelim for UFC Kansas City. Royval gave further fuel for the supporters of the flyweight division, knocking out the favored Nicolau with a spectacular step-in knee to the jaw that put the Brazilian on the road to a quick finish. Royval’s only losses are to the men fighting for the flyweight crown this summer, but no one is going to be disappointed to see him rematch either man.

Brandon Royval finishing Matheus Nicolau at UFC Kansas City.
Brandon Royval putting the finishing touches on Matheus Nicolau | IMAGO Images / Matt Davies

To be fair to the featured prelim, Bill Algeo and TJ Brown put on a hell of a show, both rattling the other with punches and kicks throughout their back-and-forth affair. It was a short elbow to the jaw of Brown that ultimately led to Algeo securing a RNC finish. Both men continue to look better in each subsequent fight, but their ceiling still appears to be outside the official UFC rankings. 

Zak Cummings and Ed Herman closed out their lengthy MMA careers against one another, Cummings securing a late stoppage in a contest that saw Cummings in firm control for the entirety of the fight. Neither were ever stars or even contenders, but they exemplified grit and hard work throughout their careers. Happy trails to both men. 

There’s no doubt Gillian Robertson made the right move to drop down to strawweight. The all-time leader in finishes at women’s flyweight struggled to gain serious traction due to a lack of size and physicality at 125. She didn’t have that problem in the least against Piera Rodriguez, someone sho wasn’t pushed around in the least in her first two UFC contests. Robertson added to her list of submissions, securing an armbar in the second. If this fight was any indication, Robertson is a major dark horse in her new division. 

Daniel Zellhuber provided all the evidence in the world that we shouldn’t put too much stock in a poor debut performance. Zellhuber was ridiculed for not showing up against Trey Ogden. He acknowledged as much and vowed not to put on a repeat performance. He came thisclose to finishing Lando Vannata in the first round before settling for a clear decision. 

The newcomers on the card alternated results, Gaston Bolanos securing a win over Aaron Phillips followed by Bruna Brasil falling to Denise Gomes. Bolanos has a lot of work to do, struggling with Phillips on the mat. Brasil struggled with the pressure and aggression from Gomes, eating several hard shots before finally going down to the heavy punches of Gomes. Phillips is likely gone, Bolanos likely tops out as an action fighter, Brasil looks like a gatekeeper, and Gomes has a very bright future. She is just 23 after all. 

The night started out with a bad decision. There were two judges submitting their first official UFC scorecards for the fight between Lucie Pudilova and Joselyne Edwards, which may have accounted for the surprise when the split went in favor of Edwards. Pudilova exercised long periods of control in the first two rounds, but the judges didn’t seem to care for the control. If there’s anything to take from that contest, it’s that there’s a lot of confusion regarding the emphasis in the scoring criteria of a fight. Nobody is going to remember anything else from this contest other than it was a bad decision.

For the preliminary highlights, click here.

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About the author
Dayne Fox
Dayne Fox

Dayne Fox is a contributing writer and analyst for Bloody Elbow. He has been writing about combat sports since 2013 and a member of Bloody Elbow since 2016. Dayne primarily contributes opinion pieces and event coverage. Dayne’s specialties are putting together the preview articles for all the UFC events and post-fight analysis. Outside of writing on combat sports, Dayne works in the purchasing department of a construction company, formerly working as an analyst. He is also a proud husband and father. In what spare time he can find, he enjoys strategy games and is a movie enthusiast. He is based in Utah.

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