Last night (Sat., April 10, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) remained in UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 23. Let’s be honest, there were not a ton of reasons to be overly excited about last night’s event, particularly once Darren Till was forced to withdraw from the main event due to injury. On the plus side, there were a couple really high-level prospects featured on the card, as well as some guaranteed action fights.
Let’s take a closer look at the best performances and techniques:
Vettori Follows The Blue Print
I don’t want to waste too much time talking about this fight, since essentially I already did three weeks ago. Holland didn’t talk much mid-fight trash, but he did give up a lot of takedowns. Between those two factors, the takedowns were far more responsible for his loss to Derek Brunson, and that flaw held him back here too.
Holland has to learn how to fight hands and widen his base more effectively.
As for Vettori, he fought smart. Brunson demonstrated how to nullify Holland, and Vettori pretty much copied him. He landed a few more left hands and generally did a bit more damage, but otherwise, it was a repeat performance. Hopefully, Vettori’s match up vs. Till can rematerialize, because it still feels the fight to make after this victory.
Real Deal Dern
Mackenzie Dern was not a particularly good MMA fighter when she joined the UFC roster, but times change quickly, and it’s time for those previously unwilling to recognize that fact (like me!) to take notice.
Nina Nunes is a really good kickboxer with quality takedown defense and grappling. On paper, she was a perfect match up to exploit Dern’s previous flaws: bad kickboxing and iffy wrestling. A year ago, she surely would have won.
Dern has genuinely improved, however. She managed to complete a good single leg takedown along the fence, and once on top position, her world-class grappling was apparent. She knifed through her opponent’s guard, took mount, and was immediately on an armbar. From that position, she controlled her foe in place and worked methodically to destroy the grip, finishing just before the end of the first round.
With her grappling pedigree, Dern only needs a single takedown to potentially take out any Strawweight on the planet. She’s grown to become a true title threat, even if there’s still progress to be made in rounding out her MMA game.
D-Rod Punishes Platinum
There are two aspects to this fight: Daniel Rodriguez looking really damn good, and Mike Perry continuing his slump (read more on that HERE!).
Let’s focus on the plus side! Rodriguez executed the classic Southpaw playbook to perfection, and his hands have never looked better. Opposite his heavy-handed foe, Rodriguez routinely gained outside foot position by blinding Perry with the jab, then he’d send seriously heavy left crosses straight into the mush of Perry’s face. In between his straight shooting, Rodriguez would rip left kicks into the thigh and body, squaring Perry up for further left hands.
It was his best showing yet, as Rodriguez destroyed his foe’s face.
- Julian Marquez defeats Sam Alvey via second-round rear naked choke: This may just be the end of Alvey’s UFC stretch. His counter right hook is still dangerous, but Alvey is predictable, and at 34 years of age, his historically ironclad durability is starting to fail him. There’s not much to break down: Marquez feinted well and landed lots of hard punches to the chin, resulting in multiple knockdowns before the bloody strangulation. For Alvey, it’s his sixth consecutive bout without a victory, while Marquez made it 2-0 in 2021.
- Mateusz Gamrot defeats Scott Holtzman via second-round knockout: Gamrot debuted at 16-0 with a lot of impressive credentials behind him, but he suffered a competitive split-decision to the comparatively unheralded — but clearly very good — Guram Kutateladze. UFC clearly had some faith in him though, matching him with a more well-established foe in Holtzman. His sophomore performance proved why people were excited, as Gamrot was a step ahead of his foe from the first bell, putting together great combinations and takedowns. Holtzman doubled down on his power punches in an attempt to answer, but that only served to set him up for a clean right hand from Gamrot that put his foe down for good.
- Jarjis Danho defeats Yorgan de Castro via first-round knockout: Danho has competed in nearly five years, but he didn’t seem to notice! “The Man Mountain” wasted little time in trading low kicks and right hands with his opponent, and one such simultaneous trade of rights saw Danho get his head off the center line and land clean as a result. Sometimes, that’s all it takes!
- Impa Kasanganay defeats Sasha Palatnikov via second-round rear naked choke: How does one return from being on the wrong side of a “Knockout Of The Century”-type loss? Kasanganay accomplished that unenviable task fairly well, dropping a weight class and manhandling his foe with takedowns en route to a rear naked choke win. It’s a good reminder that Kasanganay was an impressive prospect prior to the Joaquin Buckley kick, and he still is.
For complete UFC Vegas 23: “Vettori vs. Holland” results and play-by-play, click HERE!