There are only a few things in life that are said to be certain: death, taxes, and Kevin Holland getting outwrestled. Marvin Vettori (17-4-1) reassured the UFC faithful of that as he defeated Holland (21-7) via unanimous decision (50-44 x3) Saturday afternoon, landing a UFC middleweight record 11 takedowns in the process. For Vettori, he simply replicated the game plan that was put on display just a few weeks prior by Derek Brunson as he got Holland down six times in their 25 minutes.
Although Vettori was consistent in his performance at the UFC Apex, his inability to finish a fight that he was in firm control of for the final 20 minutes didn’t have the world clamoring for a rematch with him and current champion Israel Adesanya. Vettori now we assume will have his eyes set on next week’s main event as another duo of middleweight’s face-off as Robert Whittaker faces his King’s MMA teammate in Kelvin Gastelum. Current middleweight champion Israel Adesanya likely gets either the victorious Vettori or next week’s winner between Gastelum and Whittaker. Regardless of who gets the nod to face Adesanya, you would imagine he would be excited to come off his first professional MMA loss against any of the three since Adesanya has a victory against all three.
Kevin Holland came out with a vengeance as he tried to get the fans to quickly forget his last outing by throwing a variety of kicks to keep Vettori at bay, but his risk of stepping up ended up backfiring as the man who went a perfect 5-0 in 2020, has now been defeated with a massive hole in his game being exposed in the process. Holland, who once teased at a move down to welterweight is now looking like it is a must-do if he wants to get back on track to the year that made him a marquee name.
Arnold Allen def. Sodiq Yusuff via UD
Two featherweights walked into the UFC Apex undefeated in their UFC runs, but it was tenth-ranked Arnold Allen who remained undefeated as he handed number 11 Sodiq Yusuff his first promotional loss by unanimous decision, edging out Yussuff (29-28) on all three judges’ scorecards. Arnold now has the division’s longest winning streak with eight-straight at 145 pounds and could potentially be the next champion who is cornered by the legendary Firas Zahabi. Arnold Allen was able to get his hand raised despite getting Yusuff landing more punches by a count of 79-26. Arnold was able to use his wrestling skills to score two takedowns and able to keep Yusuff on his back for over a third of the fight. Arnold now has earned the chance to break into the upper echelon of the division as long as he is afforded the opportunity, being as only three of the top 10 contenders have fights booked, and with Volkanovski and Ortega to coach The Ultimate Fighter the division is now in a bit of a standstill amongst the top.
Julian Marquez def. Sam Alvey via Technical Submission
Julian Marquez (9-2) has been on a roll since his return from injury which nearly had him out for the last two years. He had Miley Cyrus reply to his wish to be his valentine, has a pickleball game with Chiefs stars Travis Kelce, Patrick Mahomes, and Tyreke Hill on the horizon, and now has a pair of submission wins to start of 2021. The Kansas City native put on a fight of the night performance Saturday as he was able to put Sam Alvey (33-16-1) to sleep with a vicious bulldog choke in the second. The James Krause pupil is surging since teaming up with the Glory MMA head coach and is moving up the middleweight ladder towards title contention.
Alvey with his loss is now winless in his last six bouts, going 0-5-1 in the process, and hasn’t had his hand raised since June of 2018. Alvey is often regarded as one of the good guys in the sport and came into fight week knowing his job was likely on the line going into Saturday’s ABC card. If this is the end for Alvey in the UFC, 10-11-1 with his biggest win being a split decision win over former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans back in 2017.
Mackenzie Dern def. Nina Nunes via Submission
A game that is a staple among kids of all generations is called “floor is lava”, where kids try to stay off the ground to keep themselves out of danger. When you find yourself on the mat with jiu-jitsu savant Mackenzie Dern (11-1), it is like you are burning in said lava. Multiple time ADCC champion Dern was able to get the fight where she was the most comfortable, leading to a first-round armbar win over the returning Nina Nunes (10-7) 4:48 in. The two mothers took the stage in the first female fight to take place on ABC, with Nunes making her return after giving birth to her first child back in September with her wife, two-division UFC champion Amanda Nunes. The most important takeaway of this bout was that Mackenzie Dern wasn’t just able to out-grapple the striker, but she also out-struck the striker, out landing Nunes 31-5 in their bout. Dern has been able to round out her game since pairing up with striking coach Jason Parillo at the California-based RVCA gym, rattling off four straight wins since first tasting defeat to Amanda Ribas back in October of 2019. The number 11 ranked strawweight now just finished a top-five in Nunes and has put the division on notice.
These two warriors went in with intentions to hurt one another, after the bout the two showed nothing but respect for one another, just a day after the bout Dern’s husband took to Instagram to show their young children holding hands and walking together in the fighter hotel. Blood is often shed in this sport, but it isn’t always bad blood we see.
Daniel Rodriguez def. Mike Perry via Unanimous Decision
A pair of welterweights kicked off main card action on ABC as strikers Daniel Rodriguez (14-2) outclassed Mike Perry (22-8) by unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 30-26). Rodriguez was consistent in his approach, using his three-inch reach advantage over Perry to put on a striking clinic making Perry wear a crimson mask of his own blood. One benefit that Rodriguez had going into the bout was the advice he gets in the BMF Ranch training room alongside UFC veteran Donald Cerrone, who previously defeated Perry in November of 2018. Perry landed two takedowns in his losing effort, but it was an inability to keep his head off the centerline that led to him being out struck a total of 145-65 by Rodriguez. Inconsistency has plagued Perry during his promotional run with his loss on Saturday being his seventh in his last ten. For the fan-favorite who missed weight the fight prior against Tim Means, the time is ticking for Perry to right the ship if he wants to stick around as Perry now has just one fight remaining on his UFC contract.
(Cover Photo: MMA Junkie/USA TODAY)