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UFC Vegas: Brunson vs Holland - Mar 20 🇺🇸


Who wins and how?   

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Posted (edited)

Saturday 20th March. The APEX in Las Vegas.

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ESPN+ MAIN CARD 
Derek Brunson vs Kevin Holland 

Max Griffin vs Kenan Song 

Cheyanne Buys vs Montserrat Conejo

Adrian Yanez vs Gustavo Lopez

Tai Tuivasa vs Harry Hunsucker  

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Marion Reneau vs Macy Chiasson

Grant Dawson vs Leonardo Santos

Trevin Giles vs Roman Dolidze

Montel Jackson vs Jesse Strader

JP Buys vs Bruno Silva

 

That’s the final bout order as far as I can tell but there’ll likely be changes and dropouts as usual anyway. Not a stacked card but I like it. The main event is a beauty and there’s a few fights (or at least fighters) underneath that I’m well into.

 

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Derek Brunson vs Kevin Holland. Love this as a 5 round main event. Two guys who’ve been a bit under-appreciated in the Middleweight mix really but they’re both on the verge of being in an undeniable position to become a serious contender for the gold. A statement win from either man here could do the trick. Derek Brunson’s been knocking about for a bit now. Fought a bunch in Strikeforce way back, has fought most of the top names at 185 over the years. 21-7 record with 15 inside the distance. He’s 37 years old now, time is of the essence. But he’s on good form of late, winning his last 3 on the trot. He bashed up Edmen Shahbazyan in August.

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Shahbazyan was undefeated and considered one of MMA’s hottest prospects going in. But Brunson overwhelmed him and put him away with a third round TKO. It was one of Brunson’s best overall performances for me. 

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Kevin Holland is maybe the most exciting new(ish) face at 185. For all the talk about Khamzat Chimaev taking the sport by storm last year, Holland did it better and should’ve really got those plaudits. He’s 21-5 overall and went 5-0 in 2020 with 4 finishes. He had an absolute blinder. At UFC 256 in December he took on Jacare Souza. Despite the feeling going in that Jacare had seen better days, I wasn’t sure how it would go. Jacare had just gone the distance with Jan Blachowicz up at 205 and lost a split decision. He was slowing down but far from shot. And with his experience and grappling credentials, I wasn’t writing him off. Holland looked outstanding though. Really took it to Jacare everywhere, didn’t fear his ground game at all and then stopped him viciously.

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Whole thing lasted 1:45 and bagged Holland a $50k POTN bonus. What a way to cap off a successful year. He called out Brunson in his post-fight interview and that’s where this thing all got started.

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Brunson wasn’t having it and quickly snapped back.

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Holland’s been calling him Sisqo pretty much ever since.

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😂

They went back and forth and thankfully, the fight got signed and here we are. It was a no brainer really, wasn’t it? The UFC must love it when fights just kind of book themselves like this. Makes their job easier and the hype and promotion is ready made. They don’t have to do much. Holland has typically had a lot to say...

“I wanna beat Brunson up because I don’t like the way he strikes. It just looks awkward. It’s like a disrespect to striking. If I can time his favourite combo right, this might not go five rounds. I’m definitely preparing for five so we’ll see how it goes. I’ve got a sequence. If I slip his jab, roll his overhand and then hit him with a good hip thrust while he goes for a takedown, I’ll knock him out with my cojones. That right there would be the knockout of the century.” - Kevin Holland 

Brunson hasn’t really been biting at most of it, he’s been around long enough to not let trash talk get under his skin. Whether Holland can wind him up on fight week remains to be seen. Regardless, it’s a cracking fight. My initial thought is to favour Holland. He’s nearly a decade younger and it just feels like the momentum is on his side. But Brunson is dangerous and has recent form for derailing a young lion of the division.

 

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Max Griffin vs Song Kenan. Not that bothered but it might pleasantly surprise. I remember enjoying a couple of Griffin’s fights a lot, to be fair. His fight with Thiago Alves a couple of years back was ace. He’s 16-8 now and coming off a bloodbath doctor stoppage win over Ramiz Brahimaj in November. Look at this Mick Foley in Germany looking shit...

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Vile. Griffin’s had had his ups and downs but he brings it more often than not. Can’t recall much of Song at all. He’s 30 years old, 16-5 and coming off a quick finish over Callan Potter. Dunno.

 

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Cheyanne Buys vs Montserrat Conejo. Two UFC newcomers facing off. This was supposed to be Buys vs Kay Hansen but Hansen just pulled out with a week to go. Buys is 25 years old with a record of 5-1 and fights out of Xtreme Couture. Always surprises me that Xtreme Couture is still a thing for some reason. Like seemingly every bloody new signing these days, she’s from DWCS. Conejo jumps in on short notice. She’s from Mexico and trains at Kings MMA. She’s got a 9-1 record with 5 finishes and she’s coming off a first round submission win at Invicta 41 in July. Doesn’t sound a bad signing, to be fair. Another solid addition to the constantly improving Strawweight division. But the circumstances of her debut here are far from ideal.

 

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Adrian Yanez vs Gustavo Lopez. Give this a look, if only to see Yanez. He’s 27 with a 12-3 record and 9 finishes. He’s won his last 5 fights, stopped 4 of them and was on DWCS. I’d never seen him before his UFC debut but I think @Zebra Kid Mark was bigging him up on here. He didn’t disappoint.

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He knocked out Victor Rodriguez with a headkick in a 2 minute stormer. Made an instant fan of me. They both went for it. One of the better 2 minute battles you’ll see. But Yanez really stood out as someone to keep tabs on. Can’t recall seeing Lopez but he’s 12-5 and subbed Anthony Birchak in his last fight. Lost to Merab Dvalishvili before that. Whatever. Yanez is the pull here for me anyway.

 

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Tai Tuivasa vs Harry Hunsucker. Hunsucker LOL. I’m not going to pretend I’m arsed about this. At one time I thought Tuivasa might be something. Not champion material or anything but a good middle of the pack Heavyweight who might mix with some of the names of the division down the line. Kind of a knock-off Mark Hunt. He started pretty well, going 9-0 at the beginning of his career and beating Arlovski. But that got shut down quick when he lost his next 3 fights in a row. He stopped Stefan Struve on the Khabib-Gaethje undercard in October but that doesn’t say much these days. Struve’s looked knackered for ages and he’s since retired. He’s still only 27 but I don’t know, I just don’t think he’ll ever be any more than a fat slugger. Hunsucker is stepping in on just a couple of days notice after Don’Tale Mayes dropped out. He’s 6-3 with all his wins and losses ending inside the distance. Think he was on DWCS recently as well. As you can see by the picture there, he has actually won belts somewhere but in just 9 pro fights, he’s already been knocked out 3 times. The fact he’s won two belts probably speaks more to how poor the Heavyweight division actually is outside the top few than anything else. I suppose there’s a chance this might be a decent brawl, to be fair. There’s always that chance with the Heavies. But I can’t see either amounting to much.

 

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Marion Reneau vs Macy Chiasson. This one’s been scheduled, postponed and shifted about a few times. Not in love with it. Reneau has had her moments in the past. She submitted Jessica Andrade back in 2015 and Sara McMann in 2018. But she’s 43 years old now, which must make her the oldest woman currently competing in MMA surely? She comes into this fight off the back of 3 straight losses, dropping her overall record to 9-6-1. On the flipside, Chiasson is 29 years old, 6-1 and a former TUF winner. I think it’s fairly obvious why this fight was booked and what they’re going for here. Out with the old and all that.

 

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Grant Dawson vs Leonardo Santos. Like this matchup a lot. Probably the sleeper of the entire card for me. And yet again, Lightweight! Dawson’s 27, a BJJ brown-belt, 16-1 in MMA and on a 7 fight streak. Haven’t seen a ton of him but what I have seen he looked handy. Beat Julian Erosa, who’s been on a bit of a tear lately, as well. Santos is my guy here though. He’s a bit of an enigma to me. He’s one of the best least talked about fighters at 155 and that’s because he’s had great big chunks of inactivity sprinkled throughout his career. It’s a shame because I really think he had/has the tools to be a legit player in the division. This is a man who’s a 4th degree BJJ black-belt, a serious high level grappler, 18-3-1 in MMA, won TUF Brazil 2 back in 2013 (he beat Thiago Santos on TUF believe it or not!), hasn’t lost since 2009, his MMA debut was against Gomi and he went to a majority decision, knocked out Kevin Lee. Oh and he submitted GSP in the ADCCs in 2005...

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It feels like we should be talking about this fucker a lot more but, yeah, inactivity. And he’s 41 years old now so the moment for him to really make something happen has probably passed. Although saying that, he came back from a 3 year hiatus and sparked Stevie Ray a couple of years ago. Then was out another year and came back and decisioned Roman Bogatov last July. It’s nuts that he’s been able to keep coming back and getting wins but you wonder how far he could’ve gone had he been able to stay healthy and active more throughout the past decade.

 

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Trevin Giles vs Roman Dolidze. This is worth checking out. Giles has been so-so in the UFC. Went 11-0 to start his career but ran into trouble dropping back-to-back submission losses to Zak Cummings and Gerald Meerschaert in 2019. He’s since rebounded with wins over James Krause and Bevon Lewis but, I don’t know, those couple of losses kind of laid out the blueprint on him. Can’t help feeling like he’s going to struggle whenever he comes up against a strong and crafty grappler. And Dolidze might just be another who’s cut from that cloth. He’s the late fill-in for Dricus Du Plessis, who dropped out just over a week out from the show. He competed in the ADCCs so he’s got the grappling chops to potentially give Giles fits if it goes to the ground. But in MMA, he’s acquired a taste for knocking guys out. He’s undefeated at 8-0 with 7 finishes. Bashed up Khadis Ibragimov in his UFC debut back in July, then won a split decision over John Allan in December. I recall him not looking that good in that fight but still, could’ve been an off night I suppose. The tools are there and he’s still going to be worth keeping tabs on.

 

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Montel Jackson vs Jesse Strader. This one got added late. Jackson’s alright from the bits and bobs I’ve seen. He’s 9-2 with 6 finishes and coming off a decision loss to Brett Johns in July. Before that though he was on a decent little 3 fight streak where he’d submitted Brian Kelleher and put a right beating on Felipe Colares. Strader makes his debut here. He’s 29 years old with a 5-1 record and 4 knockouts. He’s fought mostly in the Combate Americas promotion. Don’t recognise any of the names he’s beat other than a TKO over a Michael Jackson in 2019. Cha’mon. He’s meant to be a bit of a prospect from what I’m reading but I’m always wary of that when they’ve only had a handful of fights against unknowns. We’ll see though.

 

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JP Buys vs Bruno Silva. The other half of the Buys couple. JP is Cheyanne Buys’ husband. That’s got to be a first, right? There’s never been a husband and wife combo fighting on the same card in the UFC, has there? Or am I forgetting an obvious example? Wonder if they have a kid would they name them ‘PPV’? Anyway, again, a DWCS guy. He fought on there in November and got a first round submission apparently. He’s 9-2 overall. Silva is 10-5-2-1 and has had a disastrous UFC run. He’s fought 3 times in the Octagon and yet to taste victory. Probably safe to assume he’s a goner with another L here.

 

 

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Edited by wandshogun09
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Gregor Gillespie on the knockout loss to Kevin Lee; Refreshing to hear a fighter just give credit with no hint of excuse making at all. That pretty much never happens. Edit - Christ. Lo

Yanez is quite likeable as well in the bits and pieces I’ve seen. He’s going to be great to follow in the UFC. Like a slightly bigger Brandon Moreno but not as wild and reckless. He’s made a fan

Derek Brunson derails another one. I think at this point it’s safe to say that if you want to build up a prospect, it’s probably best to keep them the fuck away from Brunson. That’s Shahbazyan and Hol

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I'm with you, Wand. There's definitely some fights and fighters that I like on this card. I hope the Raging Panda gets back on track here. 

That Kevin Lee headkick is one of those gifs that I send to my mates in WhatsApp to try to encourage them to watch more MMA. A perfect knockout. It's like something from Tekken. 

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Great write up Wand, looking forward to seeing Yanez fight again.

The main highlight for me is seeing Kevin Holland get a main event spot, I'm really high on the guy right now and a win here has to put him in the top 5.

Regarding the Buys, the only other married couple I can think of is Mark De La Rosa and Montana De La Rosa. They both fought on the Corey Anderson vs Big Jan card last February. Mark lost and Montana won. So lets see if they become the first victorious married couple.

 

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1 hour ago, Panhead said:

That Kevin Lee headkick is one of those gifs that I send to my mates in WhatsApp to try to encourage them to watch more MMA. 

Whenever I’ve done that it’s backfired spectacularly. Like when I was telling a mate (who was a big MMA fan years ago but drifted away) that this upcoming Adesanya vs Romero fight was going to be the bollocks. He got up at about 5am for that and no doubt wanted to cave my face in when it was over. He didn’t trust me when I tried to get him to go back and check out the Zhang vs Jedrzejczyk fight from the same card the next day. Think he thought I must be on the wind up. 

13 minutes ago, Zebra Kid Mark said:

Regarding the Buys, the only other married couple I can think of is Mark De La Rosa and Montana De La Rosa. They both fought on the Corey Anderson vs Big Jan card last February. Mark lost and Montana won. So lets see if they become the first victorious married couple.

Completely forgot about the De La Rosas, as most people do. Of course, Frank Mir fought on the same card as the love of his life his whole career - himself. 

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I had to check if Nunes and Ansaroff had been on the same card - the only married couple in UFC history who could theoretically have fought each other. But no, seems their cards never crossed.

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Jamahal Hill vs Paul Craig is off. Hill’s out. That was going to be the co-main event on this card. Gone. There won’t be a replacement either, the fight’s already been agreed to for another card but the date hasn’t been confirmed yet. 

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love seeing Kevin Holland is this spot, i feel he's abit on the outside when talking title contention, if he waxes Brunson though, then a few results go his way he could be next. Brunson deserves some respect too, he's on a sneaky good run himself.

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Just updated the opening post with that. The Johnny Eduardo vs Anthony Birchak fight is off as well. Hopefully that’s it for dropouts now but with 3 days left there’s still plenty of time.  

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Harry the big lad was on DWCS as mentioned in Wand's write up. His fight was under a minute against another slugger, it's hard to judge him on that but if Tuivasa can't beat him then he probably might get released....I could have sworn he was released at the start of covid before his last fight but he came back.

I'm very excited for this main event, it's a really big test for Kevin Holland, it would be stupid to count out Brunson after what he's done to top prospects lately but I am really hoping Holland wins.

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If Holland puts Brunson away, how far do we have him from a title shot vs Izzy?

Dana seems hesitant of giving Whittaker a crack at him. Adesanya seems to want to fight Till next, but Vettori could put a stop to that. Could easily see Holland getting the next shot if the stars align. 

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7 hours ago, Zebra Kid Mark said:

Harry the big lad was on DWCS as mentioned in Wand's write up. His fight was under a minute against another slugger, it's hard to judge him on that but if Tuivasa can't beat him then he probably might get released....I could have sworn he was released at the start of covid before his last fight but he came back.

 

Tai did announce that, think he was messing around though

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15 hours ago, sukhy said:

If Holland puts Brunson away, how far do we have him from a title shot vs Izzy?

Dana seems hesitant of giving Whittaker a crack at him. Adesanya seems to want to fight Till next, but Vettori could put a stop to that. Could easily see Holland getting the next shot if the stars align. 

He’d be right there for me. That’d be a 6 fight streak with back-to-back wins over Jacare and Brunson. And those 6 fights would’ve been within a 10 month span, which is nuts. You know Dana bums fighters who are active and will jump in wherever so I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Holland got a title shot if he wins on Saturday night. Like you say though, if Vettori beats Till he can make a good case too and he’d be on a 5 fight streak with back-to-back wins over Hermansson and Till. If both Holland and Vettori win these fights it might be a case of whoever looks most impressive. But you know what they’re like. If say, Vettori beats Till via close decision, don’t be shocked if Dana goes ‘I had Till winning. We’re giving him the title shot anyway.’ The old Moraes vs Aldo shite. 

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I think Holland's got a great chance of getting the shot. You're gonna have 3 real solid viable contenders out of Holland/Brunson, Whitaker/Gastelum, Till/Vettori. It may simple come down to who has the best performance.

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Of the lot there, Gastelum and Till would be the least deserving but probably the ones the UFC/Dana would be all over. Adesanya vs Gastelum 2 would be easy to hype after their classic first fight and Till...well, I don’t know. He’s not even that exciting to watch most of the time but I think they’d be happy to give him a shot because they love a gobshite.

Whittaker absolutely deserves another crack though. Wins over Till and Cannonier since the loss to Izzy plus a win over Gastelum would be a pretty sweet rebound. If Whittaker, Holland and Vettori all win these fights then I’d be happy with any of them getting the shot. 

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