The UFC Austin card featured 13 fights. Nine of those contests ended before the start of the third stanza. Of the four fights that went the distance, none of those bouts took place in succession. The event seemed to please the UFC, as evidenced by the fact that the nine fighters who earned stoppages all earned $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonuses. One of the fights that went the distance, the main event matchup between top-10 ranked featherweights Calvin Kattar and Josh Emmett got the “Fight of the Night” nod.
The winner of the main event, Emmett, said after his victory that he wants to face the victor of the upcoming UFC 276 matchup between current 145-pound champion Alexander Volkanovski and ex-champ Max Holloway. Which, maybe? However, the UFC might decide to wait on that decision considering the fighters who are ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in the weight class, Brian Ortega and Yair Rodriguez, are scheduled to scrap on July 16 on Long Island.
Before we get into future bookings for the top-ranked fighters in the UFC’s featherweight division, let’s look back on the winners and losers from the UFC Austin fight card, which took place on Saturday, June 18 at Moody Center in Austin, Texas. ESPN carried the main card following prelims on ESPN2.
Calvin Kattar vs. Josh Emmett: An important featherweight scrap headlined the UFC Austin fight card, and while we did not get a knockout, we got an entertaining scrap that could have gone either way. In the end, the judges went with the power of Josh Emmett over the jab heavy attack of Calvin Kattar.
With the win, Emmett, who began the contest as the No. 7 fighter in the official UFC featherweight rankings, moved his winning streak to five straight, a run that began after a loss to Jeremy Stephens that left him in need of emergency surgery and kept him from fighting for 13 months.
Kevin Holland: After a run where he went 0-2-0-1, Kevin Holland has now put together back-to-back wins at welterweight with stoppage wins over two veteran opponents. In March he scored a TKO win over Alex Oliveira. On Saturday he used his striking to set up a submission win over Tim Means.
Holland has largely lost his reputation as nothing more than a “big mouth” and shown that he is a skilled and dangerous fighter. He took another step toward shaking that personae with his performance on Saturday night. Holland is not just an entertaining fighter, but he is someone who needs to be taken seriously at 170 pounds as long as his head is in the game — and from all appearances — it is.
Joaquin Buckley: In what might have been his best performance in the UFC, Joaquin Buckley scored a doctor stoppage win over Albert Duraev after his striking closed the left eye of Duraev. The win gave Buckley his first three-fight winning streak since he opened his career at 6-0.
Damir Ismagulov vs. Guram Kutateladze: Damir Ismagulov and Guram Kutateladze put on a very entertaining lightweight scrap. Both fighters had their moments. mostly via their striking. Kutateladze was best in the first round when he used a mixture of targets and attacks to hurt Ismagulov. As the fight wore on, Ismagulov did a fantastic job in using his jab to mark up the face of his opponent. He then turned up the volume in the third round.
Ismagulov got the nod from the judges, but this was one of those contests where the vanquished fighter should not lose ground in the eyes of the fans or the UFC.
Julian Marquez vs. Gregory Rodrigues: The fight between Julian Marquez and Gregory Rodrigues probably went on for a bit too long — Marquez was hurt and hurt bad — but this was a slobberknocker of a middleweight contest.
Adrian Yanez: Adrian Yanez is now 5-0 in the UFC with four knockouts. He entered his matchup with Tony Kelley looking for that fourth knockout, and he got it. What was most impressive about Yanez’s win was his composure. He had Kelley hurt a few times, but he never rushed things or put himself in danger. Instead, he just hurt Kelley more and the finish eventually came.
Yanez was unranked heading into UFC Austin and he might remain unranked after the event, but that doesn’t mean he’s not ready for a test against a ranked opponent. I believe he is.
Natalia Silva: Natalia Silva delivered close to a perfect performance in making her UFC debut at UFC Austin. A 25-year-old Brazilian who had not fought since she defended the Jungle Fight flyweight title in 2019, Silva was an underdog to Jasmine Jasudavicius, but Silva went out and dominated the fight in every way possible, cruising to a one-sided decision win.
Silva had the faster and more effective striking in this matchup and her footwork and movement prevented Jasudavicius from landing effective strikes of her own. Silva also did a spectacular job in mixing up her striking techniques and targets, which prevented her opponent from getting a bead on Silva. She was also able to keep Jasudavicius from getting a takedown and even earned two takedown of her own.
Silva looked excellent and if she can stay healthy, I expect the UFC matchmakers will want to get her back in action quickly.
Jeremiah Wells: Jeremiah Wells has alternated submission and knockout wins over the course of his past five fights. On Saturday he was due for a KO win and he got that, starching Court McGee 1:34 into the first round of their welterweight contest.
A former Cage Fury title challenger, the 35-year-old Wells is a fighter who needs to be on your radar.
Ricardo Ramos: Ricardo Ramos used impeccable movement and timing to set up his second spinning back elbow knockout of his UFC career, dropping Danny Chavez at the 1:12 mark of Round 1. As specialties go, Ramos’ spinning back elbow is one of the more memorable finishing moves in MMA today.
Cody Stamann: The UFC matchmakers set the table for Cody Stamann by booking him opposite a 37-year-old Eddie Wineland who had been knocked out in the first-round of his past two outings. Stamann rewarded them by ending the fight in 59 seconds. The win ended a three-fight losing skid for Stamann and should serve as a confidence booster for a fighter who was 19-2-1 before he dropped those three contests.
Phil Hawes: Phil Hawes showed out against Deron Winn. He was prepared for the size advantage he had and took full advantage of that fact. The most memorable aspect of Hawes’ performance was the variety of strikes he used in getting the second-round stoppage.
Roman Dolidze: Roman Dolidze delivered a ho-hum performance in his last UFC outing, using a grinding style that drew the ire of UFC commentator Michael Bisping. There was nothing uninteresting about Dolidze’s win over Kyle Daukaus at UFC Austin.
Dolidze was aggressive in his striking, staggering his opponent with punches in the early going. A knee from the clench then landed flush and ended the night. The sound of the impact from that blow was frighteningly loud.
With the win, Dolidze moved to 10-1 overall and 4-1 in the UFC. He showed that while he might be a wrestler, his striking can turn the tide of a fight in a heartbeat.
Gilbert Burns: When Tony Kelley made his bigoted comments about Brazilians, UFC welterweight Gilbert Burns said he would send Adrian Yanez some scratch if he went out and scored a KO over Kelley. It looks like Burns wants to keep his word.
Tony Kelley: It’s going to be interesting to see what the UFC does with Tony Kelley. The talk about him leading up to this fight was his bigotry. He then came in overweight, which is never a popular move with the promotion. That he then went and got knocked out in the first round might be another strike against him.
Jasmine Jasudavicius: My initial take on Jasmine Jasudavicius was that she fought well, but safely in her UFC debut, a decision win over Kay Hansen. After seeing her get overwhelmed by Natalie Silva at UFC Austin, I think the jury needs to remain out on the upside of the 33-year-old.
Court McGee: Court McGee’s chin has held up well over the years. With only one previous knockout loss in his 31 pro fights, Jeremiah Wells increased that number to two on Saturday in brutal fashion.
I don’t know if McGee had an unreasonable amount of faith in his ability to take a shot, if he thought he was out of the reach of Wells or if he just didn’t get his guard back up in time to block the punch that put him out. I do know that McGee was on the wrong end of a highlight reel stoppage that ended his first winning streak since 2013.
Eddie Wineland: Eddie Wineland fought in his 41st pro fight on Saturday. He lost his third straight fight via first-round knockout. At 37, Wineland needs to ponder the end of his career — for the sake of health, his future and his family.
Deron Winn: At 5-foot-6, Winn was not a light heavyweight. He’s also not a middleweight — at least not at the UFC level.
UFC broadcast team: Eddie Wineland removed his gloves after his knockout loss to Cody Stamann in what we have learned is the first step of the international symbol of “my career is over.” The UFC broadcast team did not give him the chance to perhaps clarify what the removal of his mitts meant, because UFC commentator Daniel Cormier did not ask Wineland that question after the fight.
I’m not one for letting fighters who just got knocked out talk to a UFC commentator, but the UFC does not hold the same stance I have on that subject — and to not at least ask if Wineland was calling it a career after his loss was disrespectful to a fighter who has been with the UFC/WEC since 2006.
As for time constraints, that was not a concern. The broadcast ran pre-recorded segments on both main-event fighters before the next fight began.
UFC matchmakers: This sport eats its own, the matchmakers don’t need to make it worse. They did that with Stamann vs. Wineland.
Herb Dean and Deron Winn’s corner: Herb Dean and the corner of Deron Winn let Winn’s middleweight contest against Phil Hawes go on far too long. Winn was hurt bad in the first round and things did not improve for him in the second. He was little more than s staggering and bloody target for the strikes of Hawes.