Derek Brunson snaps Kevin Holland’s win streak in main event

Kevin Holland’s rise up the UFC rankings was fully earned in a tough 2020 that saw him list of five wins in a matter of months. However, on Saturday night, “Big Mouth” met a brick wall in Derek Brunson who halted his ascent.

Early in the first round, Brunson seized upon a Holland slip to control his opponent on the ground and dole out punishment from on top. That opening five minutes seemed to have opened Brunson’s eyes to his abilities to control a grounded Holland and he looked to do that for the remainder of the contest.

With his reach advantage, Holland seemed to have the slight edge on the feet, but Brunson was happy to patiently defend his foes strikes and bide his time for a takedown.

Brunson secured vital takedowns in the second, third and fourth rounds after taking some shots from Holland and ignoring his customary in-fight gamesmanship. Holland’s flashes of success on the feet – his most notable coming in the second round when he staggered Brunson with punches – wasn’t enough to build any momentum in the fight.

Even in the fifth round, when Holland cut Brunson and scored a takedown of his own, the first time the North Carolinian had ever been taken down, but Brunson was still able to find a path to accumulate points in the eyes of the judges to round off the fight.

The judges scored the contest 49-45, 49-46, 49-46 in Brunson’s favour. Those scorecards were reflective of a fight Brunson was pretty much entirely in control of.

Bad night in the office for Holland, but he will learn from this kind of fight and will certainly be back looking to stir up the middleweight division some more in the near future.


Max Griffin knocks out China’s Song Kenan in co-main event

Welterweights Max “Pain” Griffin and Song Kenan got to it quick and the fight didn’t last much longer than two minutes in Saturday’s co-main event.

The bout started a frenetic pace with Griffin and Song exchanging punches and kicks from the very start.

After some strikes and a brief clinch, it appeared the Chinese striker was beginning to find his rhythm.

Just as any momentum began to build, Griffin stunned Song with a right hand and sent him reeling backwards towards the cage.

Griffin followed up and slumped Song with a classic one-two. A follow-up punch was delivered to the already unconscious Song before referee Keith Peterson could stop the contest.


Montserrat Ruiz controls Cheyanne Buys en route to unanimous decision win

Takedowns and suffocating ground control was enough for Montserrat Ruiz to get the job done against Cheyanne Buys in this women’s strawweight contest.

Like in the main event, Buys seemed to be the better striker but could do little to keep her grappling-minded opponent at bay.

Ruiz was like a magnet in the way she kept getting back into her preferred clinch position. From there, the Invicta FC veteran was able to land head-and-arm throws to get the fight on the floor.

If she wasn’t threatening with a scarf hold when they got grounded after that takedown, Ruiz was able to stifle Buys on the mat and dish out punches from on top.

In the second round, Buys managed to briefly assume some control on the canvas herself when she climbed into full mount, but that kind of activity seldom happened for the Fortis MMA product on the ground where the contest kept ending up.

The judges all called the fight in Ruiz’s favour, with scores of 29-28, 29-28, and 29-27.


Adrian Yanez impresses in knockout win over Gustavo Lopez

Rising prospect Adrian Yanez was quicker, sharper and was in total control over his foe Gustavo Lopez.

Yanez was clearly the much better striker and lit up Lopez with punches and kicks. Lopez was happy to trade shots with his opponent but consistently came off worse in each exchange, getting hit with Yanez’s initial flurry and then countered on his replies.

Former Combate Americas champion Lopez didn’t try to reverse the course of the fight with a takedown and he paid for it.

Lopez was dropped in the second round and came out even more aggressive in the third and final round in a last-ditch effort to win the fight. That didn’t pan out well for him as Yanez expertly used his aggression to his advantage, putting Lopez down on the deck with a crushing right hook.

Referee Chris Tognoni rightly waved the fight off and that puts Yanez on a six-fight win streak – five of those coming by knockout.


Tai Tuivasa scores quick KO win over short-notice opponent Harry Hunsucker

Tai Tuivasa is back on a win streak in the UFC’s heavyweight division.

His opponent Harry Hunsucker set the tone in their battle of the big boys when he landed lightning-quick one-two punching combination.

Tuivasa shook that off and began his own work, starting with some chopping kicks to the inside and outside of Hunsucker’s left lead leg.

The Australian followed those up with a pair of powerful overhand rights that sent Hunsucker down.

Tuivasa then pounced on his fallen opponent, driving a series of punches down on his American opponent and forced referee Herb Dean to intervene, securing him a quick TKO victory inside a minute.


UFC on ESPN: Brunson vs. Holland full results

Middleweight: Derek Brunson def. Kevin Holland by unanimous decision after five rounds
Welterweight: Max Griffin def. Song Kenan by KO (punches) at 2:20 of round one
Women’s Strawweight: Montserrat Ruiz def. Cheyanne Buys by unanimous decision after three rounds
Bantamweight: Adrian Yanez def. Gustavo Lopez by KO (punch) at 0:27 of round three
Heavyweight: Tai Tuivasa def. Harry Hunsucker by TKO (punches) at 0:49 of round one
Women’s Bantamweight: Macy Chiasson def. Marion Reneau by unanimous decision after three rounds
Lightweight: Grant Dawson def. Leonardo Santos by KO (punches) at 4:59 of round three
Middleweight: Trevin Giles def. Roman Dolidze by unanimous decision after three rounds
Catchweight: Montel Jackson def. Jesse Strader by TKO (punches) at 1:58 of round one
Flyweight: Bruno Gustavo da Silva def. JP Buys TKO (punch) at 2:56 of round two