You know a UFC Fight Night hasn’t gone well when the biggest headline coming out of it involves a botched call rather than amazing fights. That’s the case with UFC Vegas 38, which started out red hot during the “Prelims” undercard, but led into an underwhelming main card. The headline fight: a snoozefest. The co-main: a no contest due to a headbutt ... but only declared a no contest after Kyle Daukaus and Kevin Holland fought past the headbutt and until Daukaus submitted Holland with a rear-naked choke.
Much digital ink has already been spilled about the situation and the way the commission (and UFC employees) handled things. It was just messy as hell from the moment the referee Dan Miragliotta decided not to step in and pause the action after Daukaus and Holland clashed heads.
We’ve all seen enough fights where a referee’s decision not to intervene after a foul (accidental or otherwise) has resulted in a less than fair finish. In this case, the commission decided to turn back time and nullify everything after the headbutt — a choice that only seemed to become popular after UFC regulatory head Marc Ratner stepped into the discussions.
The right outcome done the wrong way? Probably.
But, that doesn’t mean Daukaus is happy about it. The little brother of heavyweight Chris Daukaus was looking to keep his family on the winning track at UFC Vegas 38, and seemed to be getting the better of Holland until things went sideways.
“I don’t know what’s going through my head right now. It just annoys me,” he said at the UFC Vegas 38 post fight press conference. “He did recover from the headbutt in a way, and [the referee] didn’t say anything while we were in there. He was still fighting, so it was fine, to me it was fine.
“If that would’ve happened to me, it would have been fine,” Daukaus continued. “If he would’ve stood back up and if he would’ve gotten back to his feet and knock me senseless, they would’ve made it a big deal about him on ESPN saying, ‘Oh, he suffered a headbutt and then got up and knocked me out.’ But, because he recovers off of a headbutt gives up his back and I choke him, I get a no contest. So ... it is what it is. I don’t know”
Holland offered a rematch up after the fight was called and Daukaus seemed interested.
“Yeah, that’s fine. I don’t care,” he said, agitated. “It would have bothered me ... and it’s still going to bother me. It’s going to haunt me until I get the win, so it’s only more motivation throughout training.”
Daukaus initially declared he was interested in turning around as soon as possible before adjusting his potential schedule due to his brother Chris’ fight against Derrick Lewis on Dec. 18, 2021.
“I’m healthy right now,” he said. “I have a little bump on my elbow from the fence, that’s about it. I’m going on vacation next weekend, so anything in the weeks after that is fine. My brother has a fight in December, so probably after that. Yeah, after that. I’m gonna let him focus on what he has to focus on, it’s the biggest fight of his life thus far. Anything after that, maybe early next year. I don’t know. But ... we gotta figure s—t out about the money issues and stuff like that, figure out what’s going on.”
That’s the biggest bummer coming out of this: a No Contest for Kyle means he only makes his show purse, not his win purse. Half his paycheck, gone. Again, it was a situation where Daukaus took the reality with grim acceptance, but you could tell the situation bothered him.
“No. No, why would I?” he said when asked if he was going to ask for his win money. “They said it was no contest, there’s no reason why I should get ... my record doesn’t say 11-2, it says 10-2-1. So there’s no need for me to get an extra bonus.”
Daukaus said he knew there was trouble the moment Nevada officials pulled the red review light out.
“One of the referees threw up a yellow light, and they told us in the back if the light goes up the replay is under review,” he said. “So I knew right from there, I’m getting screwed over here. Well, not really screwed over, but yeah.
“The rules are the rules,” he continued. “Those are the rules. If it says in the writing that all fight ending headbutts ... but that’s the thing, it wasn’t a fight ending headbutt. It’s not like we headbutted, [the ref] called the fight, [Holland] couldn’t continue. He recovered, I took his back and choked him. I don’t know what else I could have done. But ... it’s in the rules, so I have to abide by them. Abide by them and move on.
“The ref didn’t jump in, Kevin threw up a triangle, had wrist control. I shrugged it off and the fight continued. If the fight had continued and the round had ended, I’m sure the fight would have gone completely different. I’m not gonna be biased and say they were kind of watching his back or anything like that. I’m not going to say that because that’s not the UFC’s intentions or anything like that. If he would have gotten up from that headbutt and knocked me senseless, that would have been ESPN Top 10 tomorrow. So ... I dunno.”
We don’t either, Kyle. This is just one of those incidents where there’s no good solution and someone gets screwed no matter how it’s handled. These things happen in MMA.
For complete UFC Vegas 38: “Santos vs. Walker” results and play-by-play, click HERE.