Last night (Sat., July 15, 2023), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) remained in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 77. How to follow up the best event of the year? Obviously, a Holly Holm main event is the answer! Sadly, the rest of the card didn’t offer much relief from the mediocrity, but at least Jack Della Maddalena stepped in to show off his talent in a short-notice match up.
Let’s take a look at UFC Vegas 77’s standout performances and techniques:
End of the Holm Era
There was a long period where Holly Holm was either fighting for a title or about to earn a title shot every other fight. Oddly, the boxer’s fights became increasingly wrestling-oriented, as any amount of resistance on the feet usually ended with “The Preacher’s Daughter” diving for a takedown and grinding along the fence.
Mayra Bueno Silva came well-prepared for the challenge. At range, she was blasting the lead leg then showing her kick feint to step forward and close distance. Any time Holm came towards her, Bueno Silva made sure to landing a clubbing right or stepping elbow. She committed fully to her strikes, largely unconcerned about the offense coming back at her — a wise read since Holm herself committed more to takedown attempts then counter punches.
Early in the second, Bueno Silva had already cracked her foe several times. Holm sought some rest in the clinch, but instead her predictably forward pressure led her directly into a ninja choke. It was a great gameplan, and Bueno Silva is a new title contender as a result (watch highlights).
Meanwhile, I’m not sure where Holm goes from here. She looked ineffective in all ranges, and opponents are only getting more confident about walking her down. Can the 41-year-old former champion rebound back to a belt? It doesn’t feel likely.
An Off Night
Jack Della Maddalena cut and made weight twice in seven days, then faced a short-notice opponent with absolutely nothing to lose. Fans expected the knockout artist to effortlessly dispatch the unknown Bassil Hafez, but it didn’t turn out to be so simple.
It shouldn’t be a shock, really. Remember when Rick Story’s opponent switched out at the last second, and Charlie Brenneman beat him the next day in one of the year’s biggest upsets? It happens. Top-tier fighters win often because of their preparation, not just their raw skills. It’s harder to handle an unknown, especially one doing weird spins and backfists because they’re fighting desperately to survive.
Hopefully, Della Maddalena learns when jumping guillotine is not a good idea. Otherwise, it’s best to just consider this one an anomaly due to the weird circumstances — Della Maddalena has shown better defensive grappling in other fights.
Iron Turtle 2.0
Junyong Park has gotten a lot better during his UFC tenure. He’s known best for his brawling nature and iron chin, but against Albert Duraev, his technical skills were more prominently displayed.
The fight began with the jab for the South Korean. Thanks to that distance weapon, Park was able to establish his range and understand precisely how far off Duraev was from himself. As the Russian swung wide or kicked at his lead leg, Park was commonly able to slide, step, or lean back very slightly, barely making his foe miss.
Before long, Park was building off the jab. He was pulling shots then firing counter combinations, and his calf kick was landing more and more. Duraev, meanwhile, was getting progressively more tired from whiffing on shots, and when he did land, well, Park is still “The Iron Turtle!”
Park consistently pressured, building momentum, too. In the second, he stung Duraev bad with a combination and sent him to the floor, relentlessly pursuing the rear-naked choke until the finish materialized (watch it). The South Korean has now won four straight, and while I’m still not sold on a run up the ranks, it’s time to get him in the cage with a ranked foe.
Five Minutes Of Cardio Ain’t Enough
Terrance McKinney has a problem. The Lightweight prospect is absolutely nasty early in fights — a serious finishing threat, both via power punch connection and the rear-naked choke. The problem, however, is that his activity, defense and general ability to fight drop off massively about four minutes into the contest.
Arguably an even bigger issue is that his opponents know it! Nazim Sadykhov didn’t do much in those opening four minutes. He just calmly defended the rear-naked choke, knowing that “T-Wrecks” would be far less dangerous once the two returned to their feet. Sure enough, he socked McKinney up in the closing minute of the round, then turned the tables fully in the second by choking him out (watch it).
Top-notch cardio isn’t just a weapon at Lightweight — it’s a requirement.
A Gruesome Finish
The first five fights of the evening went the full 75 minutes. Now, there were some decent scraps and good performances in those match ups, but by the time Viktoriya Dudakova and Istela Nunes walked into cage, fans were eager for a finish.
Dudakova shot for a low single as if it were a freestyle wrestling match, then she spun over herself as if it were a freestyle wrestling match! Understandably caught off-guard, Nunes went with the spin and posted her arm behind to catch herself. That’s something that happens all the time, and every once in a while, somebody pays the price (watch it).
Nunes’ elbow dislocated (see x-ray pic here), and the fight was instantly called off. The camera lingered on her disfigured limb as Nunes screamed in agony. I’ve seen this injury firsthand in the training room, and it produces blood curdling screams like few others.
All the best to the Brazilian in healing up.
- Francisco Prado defeats Ottman Azaitar via first round knockout (HIGHLIGHTS): Azaitar is a formidable puncher. Everyone knows it. He wins via knockout, usually quickly. Prado, full of piss and vinegar like any good 21-year-old talent, showed zero respect for that power. He moved his head, sure, but mostly he got in Azaitar’s face and threw, disrupting Azaitar’s usual bullying strategy wonderfully. Prado threw a whirlwind of offense his way, and before long, a nasty spinning elbow floored him. The stoppage was perhaps a touch early for my liking, but either way, Prado seemed firmly in control en route to his first UFC win.
- Evan Elder defeats Genaro Valdez via unanimous decision: Elder entered this fight 0-2 in UFC, but it’s a little more complicated than that. In his debut, he was undersized at Welterweight and going up a weight class. Then, he was winning his sophomore performance until a cut derailed him in the third. This time, there was no misfortune, and Elder was able to show off his talent and skill. Most impressive was the jab of Elder, which managed range well, allowing him to set up calf kicks and counter shots. Valdez was game, but by the end of the fight, he was pummeled by the promising 26-year-old.
For complete UFC Vegas 77: “Holm vs. Bueno Silva” results and play-by-play, click HERE.