Kevin Holland provided the weirdness that typifies both himself and a lot of middleweight fights. What he didn’t actually provide was much in the way of a concerted effort to defeat Derek Brunson, who’s really making one hell of a final push of sorts to challenge for the title.
The UFC Vegas 22 main event was not particularly thrilling but that’s to take nothing away from Brunson’s deserved victory. His wrestling, control time, and top-side grappling was too much for Holland to handle, but Holland’s usual antics of talking in the cage extended to chatting with Khabib Nurmagomedov in the middle of the fight. It was like watching another Diaz brother birthed before our eyes.
Holland’s striking was also a bit of a mess in the sense that for every good shot he connected on, he’d throw himself out of position and into a clinch or a takedown. Oh yeah, and he celebrated being the first man to take Brunson down like he’d actually won the fight. It looks awful to the regular observer when you’re clearly losing and sure enough his five-fight winning streak is gone.
Don’t feed prospects to Derek Brunson because he will halt their progress. Now we’ll see if Brunson can take that next step and really be on the cusp of a title shot.
More thoughts below:
- This has been an underwhelming stretch of UFC main events. Rozenstruik vs. Gane to end February was awful, Blachowicz vs. Adesanya was forgettable, Edwards vs. Muhammad ended in unfortunate circumstances, and Brunson vs. Holland was just bizarre while being devoid of entertaining fighting. Hopefully Stipe vs. Ngannou breaks the streak next week.
- Max Griffin wiped out Song Kenan with a right hand and then a 1-2 with a rather unnecessary follow-up shot on the mat that might have even been to the back of the head. Whatever the case, Song was gone after the knockdown and it’s the first winning streak of Max’s rather topsy-turvy UFC career.
- I’d never thought I’d see a fight won almost entirely because of head-and-arm throws but that’s what happened between Montserrat Conejo and Chayenne Buys. Conejo had that scarfhold lock and throw down to a science and it effectively won her the fight. Then controversy ensured afterward with Buys accusing Conejo of spitting on her at the very end, which would be a serious no-no. Conejo denies doing it.
- Look out for Adrian Yanez. This bantamweight prospect was sharp with his hands and Gustavo Lopez had no answers at all. Lopez was stuck at range and reluctant to lead and go forward because usually that meant getting whacked with a right hand. Yanez capped off a brilliant showing with a third-round walkoff KO. He needs a step up in competition.
- Heavyweight Tai Tuivasa easily stopped Harry Hunsucker in about 50 seconds. Hunsucker accepted the bout on very short notice and was at a complete loss in there, much to Tuivasa’s advantage. He did a shoey at the post-fight press conference but I’m not even going to dignify that grossness with a link.
- Macy Chiasson and Marion Reneau put on the best fight of the night (although to be fair there were not a lot of actually great fights on this card). Reneau had a strong round one before Chiasson hurt Marion multiple times over in the second round. The third was closer but clearly swung Chiasson’s way late as her striking and ultimately one crucial takedown proved pivotal in getting the win. We may have seen Reneau’s last UFC fight, as the oldest fighter on the roster has dropped four in a row.
- Wow! Grant Dawson was going to beat Leo Santos by decision anyway, but he didn’t know at the time he was up on the cards so he went all out with hammerfists in the closing seconds and knocked the Brazilian out cold. The mouthpiece was gone and he was asleep with one second left. What a win for Dawson in his move up to 155 and Santos’ long unbeaten run (both in fights and years) is over.
- Trevin Giles, as usual, made life hard for himself in his decision win over Roman Dolidze. The frequency in which he throws punches into a clinch even when the other man is hurt is baffling. He must have done this at least twice against Dolidze and went from almost KOing Roman to getting mounted two minutes later. Luckily for him, he had the more damaging offense and got his hand raised for his third straight victory. Very middleweight-ian.
- Montel Jackson and Jesse Strader got booked on short notice and Strader just wasn’t in Jackson’s league. Two knockdowns and a TKO in just under two minutes for Montel, who also got the added bonus of receiving some of Strader’s purse for missing weight.
- It was a brutal night for the Buys couple. I detailed Chayenne’s rough evening but Bruno Silva laid waste to her husband JP with a slew of big right hands in the second round to get the knockout and one of the performance bonuses. Silva was on the cusp of being cut given his 0-3 record inside the Octagon but he was brilliant in there and showcased some serious power for a flyweight.