Fight fans in Austin were treated to an absolute spectacle on Saturday night. The 12-match fight card delivered eight knockouts, tying six other events for the most knockouts in a single event in the modern era. Rising stars like Joaquin Buckley, Gregory Rodrigues and Adrian Yanez have made statements with finishes and put their divisions on notice.
But for the main event and co-main event, the knockouts weren’t the main attraction. Kevin Holland looked impressive in his win over Tim Means in the co-main event, while Josh Emmett and Calvin Kattar gave an epic five-round performance in the main event. Emmett emerged victorious, but where does that leave both fighters in a loaded featherweight division?
Brett Okamoto and Carlos Contreras Legaspi share their analysis of UFC Fight Night.
Emmett deserves a title shot after Saturday, but looking ahead, I don’t think that will be his next fight. He’s not wrong to call for “new blood” at the top of the division. It would be fun to see Emmett – a 37-year-old who has never fought for a belt – in this opportunity.
But there is a big fight between Brian Ortega and Yair Rodriguez on July 16 that will impact Emmett’s future. Arnold Allen is still floating in the top 5 and needs a big fight. And as great as Saturday’s fight was, it wasn’t the kind of results this puts Emmett in a very tight division. I think he will have to fight one more time, whether it’s Allen or Chan Sung Jung, who doesn’t seem to be retiring after his last loss to Alexander Volkanovski.
For Kattar, it’s hard to swallow. These split decisions can go both ways and if you’re a loser, it can mean a world of difference, especially to your career trajectory and Fight Night salary. Those two scorecards that went against Kattar on Saturday will have a lasting effect.
Obviously, he’s still around when it comes to big fights in the division. Movsar Evloev doesn’t have a big name, but he’s a rising contender and it would be a great fight for the UFC to stage. Same for Sodiq Yusuff. Those are steps backwards for Kattar, but that’s sometimes the case when you’re suffering two losses in three fights and you’ve already fought many other top 10 contenders. He might consider facing a back-and-forth. come. –Brett Okamoto
Kevin Holland could become a title challenger
By many different standards, Holland’s career has been a significant success so far. It’s a fan favorite. He is very active. He won big fights. He earned his appearances in the main event. Everything went well, didn’t it?
But so far, he’s never really looked like he’s capable of challenging for a title. He was more of a “fun addition to a card” guy than a serious title challenger, as he was prone to making too many mistakes. He was probably fighting in the wrong weight class as he weighed 185 pounds and his takedown defense was poor. Guys like that don’t win titles.
This Holland we saw on Saturday was different. This Holland looks like it’s becoming his own and the improvements he’s made are obvious. He doesn’t have the glaring hole he had in his takedown defense — and he truly believes it does. Why? Because after his victory on Saturday, he called out Sean Brady, one of the most physical wrestlers in the division. I have to say the old Holland was fun, but this version is more exciting. And this guy’s ceiling suddenly seems much higher. — Okamoto
Gregory Rodrigues shows ‘no emotion’ while making a name for himself at middleweight
Gregory Rodrigues knocks out Julian Marquez as the announcers can’t believe what they’re seeing in Austin.
‘Robocop’ wants his name respected, and it’s hard to deny that after handling Julian Marquez for the first time in his UFC career.
The 30-year-old Brazilian now has a 3-1 record in the UFC, with his only loss coming in a split decision to Armen Petrosyan last February. The former Legacy Fighting Alliance middleweight champion went from a submission threat early in his career to a fighter with true knockout power, as he demonstrated by finishing his opponents in six in of his last nine victories. Rodrigues was fueled by a sold-out crowd in Austin, which he experienced for the first time in his UFC career, and was brutal with his striking from the start of the fight.
Ahead of his fight on Saturday, he was asked about his thoughts ahead of fighting Marquez, who had earned performance bonuses in three of his last four fights.
“I’m scheduled to go on Saturday, no emotions,” Rodriguez said on media day. “I don’t think about anyone, I just think about winning and doing my job.”
Rodrigues has done his job in his freshman year in the UFC, and if he can keep fighting with power and an entertaining style, he’s likely to get a big name fight in the near future. — Legaspi
Adrian Yanez is due for a ranked opponent
Adrian Yanez knocks out Tony Kelley in Austin, much to the delight of the UFC faithful.
Adrian Yanez, a 28-year-old man from Houston, performed in front of an audience full of Texas fans. Yanez is one of the best boxers in the bantamweight division and showed his punching power with his first-round knockout over Tony Kelley.
Yanez is 6-0 in the UFC in his first fight on Dana White’s Contender Series where he got his contract. Five of the six fights under the promotion ended in knockouts, as his ability to work from a distance and from within devastated his opponents.
Kelley was an interesting challenge for him, with a range advantage and southpaw stance that forced Yanez closer. Additionally, Kelley entered the fight having lost 1.5 pounds in weight, leading some to wonder if the extra weight would be beneficial. It wasn’t, as Kelley was able to find some early success but was eventually overwhelmed by Yanez’s pressure and punching accuracy.
After losing coach Saul Soliz, Yanez has adapted to a new side and has been training with Aljamain Sterling more recently, garnering praise from the current champion. This performance should alert the top 15 of the division. — Legaspi