The original main event of UFC Fight Night 91 was supposed to be lightweight contender Tony Ferguson against fellow contender Michael Chiesa. With Chiesa injured, Ferguson was bumped down to co-main for a fight against Landon Vannata, a newcomer to the UFC and who otherwise entered as a massive underdog.
Vannata opened up with a spinning back kick to the body which caught Ferguson's attention. The fight was briefly stopped after Ferguson was hit in the groin. Vannata was willing to swing with El Cucuy, who drilled Vannata with a hard body kick. Ferguson dropped Vannata with a jab briefly. A massive spinning backfist had Ferguson wobbled momentarily. After a right hand by Vannata, Ferguson briefly attempted a standing choke. A big right hand by Vannata countered by a spinning attack by Ferguson. Wild opening round with the underdog landing the better strikes. Tony caught Vannata with a firm jab. Ferguson missed with a spin. Huge straight right by Ferguson staggered Vannata. A takedown attempt by Landon was stopped by Ferguson's sprawl. Right hand by Ferguson again connected. Big head kick by Vannata. Ferguson in massive trouble! He is seemingly out on his feet and Vannata is firing away with humongous shots. Ferguson now going for a heel hook. This is absolutely insane. Tony went for an armbar but it was too lose and Vannata ended the round having survived the submission attempts, having come so close to pulling off the massive upset.
The two men continued to swing away to start round 2. Ferguson missed with a head kick, then threw two front kicks. Vannata was getting tagged repeatedly by Ferguson's punches. Body kicks by Ferguson didn't deter Landon, but Ferguson jarred Vannata with a superman punch. Utterly crazy fight. I've badly botched my correct usage of tense. Ferguson with the d'arce choke attempt. Down to the ground he goes looking to complete it. And he's got it. Instant classic.
Official result: Tony Ferguson (22-3) def. Landon Vannata (8-1) via submission (d'arce choke) at 2:22 of round 2
That was Fight of the Year material. What a performance by Vannata in a losing effort. Ferguson has now won 8 in a row and keeps himself in a strong position to get a title shot.
Attn: @UFC lightweights. @TonyFergusonXT is really, really good at d'arce chokes. #UFCSiouxFalls https://t.co/WNrG15dlEe— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) July 14, 2016