Featherweight contender Josh Emmett edged one step closer to the top of the UFC 145-pound division with a hard-earned split-decision victory over fellow contender Calvin Kattar at UFC on ESPN 37.
Emmett and Kattar faced off in a five-round featherweight main event showcase in Austin, Texas, and got the nod from two of the three octagonside judges after a back-and-forth battle that was poised on a knife-edge throughout.
The bout was scored 47-48, 48-47, 48-47 in favour of the Team Alpha Male fighter, who called on the UFC to install him as the next top contender for the featherweight title.
“Holloway and Volkanovski are arguably some of the best featherweights of all time. So much respect to them,” Emmett told Daniel Cormier after his win.
“But there needs to be some new blood in the division, and I can get it done.”
“Big Mouth” gets the big finish
In the co-main event, Kevin Holland produced a stellar performance to defeat octagon veteran Tim Means via second-round submission.
Fighting for the second time at 170 pounds in the UFC, Holland looked lean and ripped, and appeared much faster and slicker as he let his hands go with confidence against “The Dirty Bird.”
Means tested Holland’s takedown defence, and his chin, but Holland – who apprehended a thief the day before his fight in Austin (the second time he has done this during a fight week) – was simply too good on the night for the 47-fight veteran.
A big right hand connected flush to the face of the advancing Means, who stumbled back, clearly stunned. Holland moved in and, as the pair went to the canvas, “Trailblazer” locked up a tight D’Arce choke that forced the tap at the 1:28 mark of the second round.
Buckley claims another stoppage win
Spectacular middleweight Joaquin Buckley couldn’t quite produce a finish to match his internet-breaking knockout of Impa Kasanganay two years ago, but he still delivered an eye-catching display to finish former training partner Albert Duraev in their main card middleweight bout.
Buckley showcased improved wrestling as he fended off a host of takedown attempts from Duraev, and fought his way back to the feet on the few occasions he was taken down. But it was on the feet that Buckley shines, and that was the case again as he lit up his man with spectacular strikes to such effect that the doctor was called to check on Duraev’s condition before the start of Round 2.
The medic decided that Duraev’s left eye, swollen shut, was sufficient to stop the bout, as Buckley claimed the 15th win – and 11th KO/TKO finish – of his career.
Ismagulov makes it 16 in a row
Kazakhstani lightweight contender Damir Ismagulov edged out fellow fringe contender Guram Kutateladze in an entertaining 155-pound clash, then called for a fight against ranked opposition in his next bout.
Ismagulov got the nod from two of the three judges, who rendered a split decision with scores of 28-29, 29-28, 30-27 to give him his 21st career victory, and 16th win in a row.
“Robocop” gets his man
The middleweight battle between Gregory Rodriguez and Julian Marquez delivered the fireworks expected, as the pair traded back and forth in a wild one-round scrap that saw Rodriguez claim a crushing first-round knockout win.
Marquez felt “Robocop’s” punch power early as Rodriguez imposed his heavy hands in the opening exchanges of the fight. And, after fending off the Brazilian in the early moments of the fight, “The Cuban Missile Crisis” bit down on his mouthpiece and fired back in kind.
It sparked a wild exchange as a clearly badly hurt Marquez continued to fight back against the more powerful, more composed Rodriguez, who eventually flattened the American with a huge punch to score a memorable first-round knockout.
Oh. My. Gosh.
— UFC on TNT Sports (@ufcontnt) June 18, 2022
Texas boy Yanez claims blistering finish
There was also a crowd-pleasing finish for Houston bantamweight Adrian Yanez, who was roared to victory over Tony Kelley by the Austin crowd inside the Moody Center.
In a fight that had clear bad blood between the pair, Yanez lit up Kelley with strikes as he showcased his slick striking and lightning hand speed to finish Kelley in the first round in blistering fashion.
Adrian Yanez gets it done in one 💥
— UFC on TNT Sports (@ufcontnt) June 18, 2022
Earlier in the night, the seven-fight preliminary card delivered a spectacular start to the evening, with five knockouts and two superb fights that went the distance.
Roman Dolidze, Phil Hawes, Cody Stamann, Ricardo Ramos and Jeremiah Wells each claimed stunning finishes, while Natalia Silva enjoyed a dream UFC debut as she delivered a spectacular display of striking to defeat Jasmine Jasudavicius via unanimous decision.
The other preliminary bout to go the distance was a thrilling women’s strawweight contest, as Maria Oliveira edged Gloria de Paula via split decision after three action-packed rounds.
UFC on ESPN 37: Official Results
- Josh Emmett def. Calvin Kattar via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47)
- Kevin Holland def. Tim Means via submission (D’Arce choke) – Round 2, 1:28
- Joaquin Buckley def. Albert Duraev via TKO (doctor stoppage) – Round 2, 5:00
- Damir Ismagulov def. Guram Kutateladze via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
- Gregory Rodriguez def. Julian Marquez via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 3:18
- Adrian Yanez def. Tony Kelley via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 3:49
- Natalia Silva def. Jasmine Jasudavicius via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
- Jeremiah Wells def. Court McGee via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 1:34
- Ricardo Ramos def. Danny Chavez via knockout (spinning back elbow) – Round 1, 1:12
- Maria Oliveira def. Gloria de Paula via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Cody Stamann def. Eddie Wineland via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 0:59
- Phil Hawes def. Deron Winn via TKO (elbows) – Round 2, 4:25
- Roman Dolidze def. Kyle Daukaus via knockout (knee and punches) – Round 1, 1:13