When all is said and done, the legacy of UFC Vegas 22 will be that it happened. It’s kind of a shame as there were some excellent KO’s, but Derek Brunson’s smothering of Kevin Holland in the main event and overall lack of name value beyond the main event doomed the event to being nothing more than a footnote. Nonetheless, I’m here to give you a unique rundown on the events of the evening that stood out. It’ll hit on the highlights and lowlights, giving a pretty clear indication of how the evening played out. Let’s get to it!
Biggest Jump in Stock: Not sure how to reconcile this spot. Brunson deserves some consideration as his smothering performance may have been the most mature performance of his career, likely granting him an opportunity against a top five opponent. However, maturity isn’t always a major stock booster, meaning there will be little anticipation for his next contest. Thus, I’ll go with Adrian Yanez, who not only put on a mature performance, but ended the contest with a badass KO. Scaring Gustavo Lopez from engaging is a hell of an accomplishment and has me believing the Yanez hype-train may not just be hype. If only the bantamweight division wasn’t such a shark tank....
Biggest Fall in Stock: Like the jump in stock, this was a tricky spot to figure out. There weren’t any major upsets, but there were some unexpected results. It could be argued Leonardo Santos belongs here given Grant Dawson handed him his first UFC loss, but many expected Dawson to win. Maybe JP Buys or his wife Cheyanne as both were favored to win their debuts. I’ll go with Kenan Song as he went to sleep in less than a round in his first big step up in competition. Max Griffin isn’t known for being a KO specialist, so it’s fair to question is Song has the chin to make a run up the division. Plus, he’d faced a low level of competition going into this contest.
Best Newcomer: It was a BAD night for newcomers, securing a 1-4 record for the evening with the one victory coming over a fellow newcomer. So kind of by default, Montserrat Ruiz took the crown of the best newcomer by being the only one to walk out of the event with a win. It wasn’t exactly a great fight – head and arm throw into a scarfhold time and time again – but Cheyanne Buys couldn’t stop it. Do what you need to do to win I guess.
Start Typing a Resume: Despite a spirited effort, Marion Reneau dropped her fourth consecutive fight to a bigger and younger Macy Chiasson. Reneau may get another chance given the amount of respect many seem to have for her – and she proved she still has something left in the tank – but she’s also 43. Reneau does have a teaching job, so it’s not like she’s relying on the UFC to support herself. If she’s cut, it’s likely her career is over as I don’t believe she’ll opt to fight on the regional scene.
Saved Their Job(s): There was a lot of hype behind JP Buys, but nobody told Bruno Silva he was supposed to lay down for the newcomer. In fact, Silva put on the performance of his life, landing a takedown and landing some heavy artillery throughout the contest before finally putting away Buys. If he can build off the momentum he produced from this contest, Silva will be around for a long time.
Cure for Insomnia: I can’t fault Ruiz given Buys struggled so much with the scarfhold, but it didn’t exactly make for a thrilling fight. The highlight of the fight came at the end, after the bell had rung. Some might declare the main event between Brunson and Holland to be more of a snoozer, but Holland’s chatter throughout the contest was amusing enough for it to avoid falling into sleep therapy.
Never Seen That Before: I shouldn’t be surprised given it was Holland, but it was the first time I’d seen a fighter asking for advice from the audience for how to fight his opponent. Granted, the audience member he was asking was Khabib Nurmagomedov, who I’m sure would be able to give some excellent advice, but I’m guessing it would have been better to get that advice before the fight. Regardless, it was amusing as hell.
Biggest WOW Moment: There were several fantastic finishes – Griffin’s KO of Kenan and Yanez’s of Lopez were awesome – but Grant Dawson’s KO of Leonardo Santos most certainly falls into the moment that had my jaw gaping the most. With each subsequent shot, you could see the consciousness leaving from Santos a little more, his mouthpiece eventually flying out of his mouth. There was a good chance Dawson would have won the decision, but no one can blame him for going for the sure victory. Even better for Dawson, many will forget how disappointing his performance had been prior to the finish. All it takes sometimes is a few seconds to negate 14 minutes of “meh” action. In addition to the earlier mentioned KO’s Bruno Silva also deserves an honorable mention.
Best Callout: I was hoping something better would come around than Dawson’s callout of Clay Guida. Guida feels like a step down from Santos, so that callout left me scratching my head. Perhaps Guida has more name value given his illustrious career, but he does nothing to advance Dawson given his current state. Fortunately, Brunson asking for Paulo Costa proved to be a far superior callout. Not only did it make sense, but it is a step up in competition for Brunson, something Dawson can’t claim in calling out Guida. There doesn’t appear to be much enthusiasm for the fight, but I can get behind it.
Sore Winner: Following her win over Buys, Ruiz instigated a post-fight incident that required officials to separate the ladies. What she did to instigate it is debatable. The broadcast stated it was trash talk – and the majority of Twitter-verse either accepted that explanation or backed it up – but I thought I saw her spit in Buys face. Buys later claimed Ruiz did so, mentioning nothing about trash talk. I saw a couple of different angles and though I admit I didn’t definitively see spit fly, every other motion was there indicating she did so. For her part, Ruiz denied spitting, but she clearly did something. If it was trash talk, not exactly classy, but fighters talk trash all the time. If she spit, there’s no excusing that. It’ll be interesting to see if Uncle Dana has something to say and/or do about the incident.
Instant Classic: No, I’m talking about a fight. MMA has a large swath of phrases the community loves to throw at one another. “Let me bang, bro!” and “It’s red panty night” are a couple of examples. Buys added to the lexicon by yelling at Ruiz, “I’ll follow you home, bitch!” following the post-fight incident. Expect there to be shirts soon enough. Hopefully, Buys can get a nice cut from them. If she does, it might make getting spit on worth it... if that’s what happened.
Dominant but of Little Consequence: When you’re expected to dominate your opposition, it’s hard to gain much traction. You’d have to do something no one has seen before. That’s the unfortunate spot Montel Jackson and Tai Tuivasa found themselves in, facing short notice debutants who appeared to be in over their heads from the word go. Neither contest went beyond two minutes, but it would have been a disappointment had they merely beat their opposition. Thus, there wasn’t any hype behind their wins.