Last updated on June 19, 2022 7:29 am (UK time)
Up until tonight, Josh Emmett had only competed the main event of the evening once during his UFC tenure. Unfortunately, the fight that he thought would catapult him to star status at the world’s most prestigious mixed martial arts organization resulted in a disappointing defeat. Four years later, Emmett finally got a second chance to perform in front of a packed arena in the headline match. Tonight the result was in his favor and the world finally got a chance to witness the versatility and skills that have earned him the respect of his peers over so many years. There is a lot to unpack here. Without further ado, let’s get started!
Kattar vs. Emmett
Featherweight prospects Calvin Kattar and Josh Emmett both have reputations for being among the strongest featherweight contenders. So for the first minute and a half of the first round, the two men danced around the octagon, looking for an opening and taking extra precautions to be sure of their attack before throwing a punch. It was Emmett who finally initiated the attack, however, Kattar succeeded with well-timed counterattacks. At the end of the round, there was a visible cut near Emmett’s left eye.
Round two was a fairly even back-and-forth saga. Both men used the jab and failed to diversify their attack. By round three, Emmett realized he had become predictable, so he finally decided to try new maneuvers. He added body shots and elbows to go with the outside kick he relied on for the first two rounds. This led to a decent hit and his most dominant round of the fight. In round four, Kattar responded with the most impressive moment of the fight, a twisting rear right elbow that landed squarely on Emmett’s left eye. This made the cut worse and the bleeding increased.
The fifth round was intense as every man knew the scorecards could be even. Eventually, they threw caution to the wind and began throwing punches and calf kicks with reckless abandon. The action remained intense until the last chime and the two men collapsed into a warm handshake, each smiling knowing they had risked everything. This was a tough fight to judge; It was very close and every man had pivotal moments that he could use to make his case for victory in the fight. Ultimately, Josh Emmett was awarded a split decision win by the judges.
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Medium vs Holland
Welterweight Tim Means was unprepared for the speed of his opponent Kevin Holland tonight. Since returning to welterweight after a few years at middleweight, Holland has been arguably the fastest man in the division. The first round was a clinic of elite jabs and counters executed by Holland like he was teaching a master class. In round two, Holland connected with an overhand right that sent Means crashing to the mat. He lunged at his opponent, putting him in a tight chokehold and forcing him to knock out. It was an impressive win for the 29-year-old; If he continues to perform in this way, his future is very bright.
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Buckley versus Duraev
Middleweight prospects Joaquin Buckley and Albert Duraev both spent significant time in Las Vegas as amateurs. The city has become something of a hub for aspiring fighters looking to receive elite training to catapult them to the next phase in their careers. It was during this period that the two men first met, often sparring at the same gym not far from the Apex Center. Given that past experience, Albert Duraev told the media that he knew Buckley’s tendencies in the octagon very well and the match would end in an “easy win”. Buckley didn’t take those words well, and the two have had a heated back-and-forth ever since.
Within the first minute of the first round, Buckley landed a resounding high kick that landed squarely on Duraev’s head. The two men played a game of cat and mouse until Duraev landed a high kick of his own just over two and a half minutes from the end of the round. Early in the second round, Duraev executed a successful takedown, but Buckley quickly struggled to his feet. A huge uppercut from Buckley sent Duraev to the mat. Once back on his feet, Buckley continued to apply pressure, hitting his opponent with another volley of jabs that sent him down again just before the bell rang.
Before the third round began, the referee determined that the cut over Duraev’s eye was too severe to continue. It was an emphatic stop in favor of Buckley. As it turned out, Duraev’s prediction of an easy win came true, just not in his favour.
Ismagulov versus Kutateladze
Lightweight contenders Damir Ismagulov and Guram Kutateladze fought a back-and-forth match that was fun and difficult to judge. In round one, Kutateladze stunned Ismagulov with a well-timed elbow. He later hit a big takedown to gain clear control of the round. In round two, Ismagulov put on a great takedown defense and prevented his opponent from taking the fight to the mat. He also landed some impressive strikes himself.
In round three, Kutateladze landed an emphatic punch that brought Ismagulov to his knees. Kutateladze then hit his opponent in the chest with a knee, which in real time looked like he was getting very close to the head. A knee to the head while the opponent is down is an illegal move and may result in a disqualification. Referee Herb Dean took a time-out, believing the illegal maneuver had been executed, but decided to issue a stern warning rather than deduct a point.
Ultimately, Ismagulov was awarded a split decision win. This fight was close and hard to decide but personally I thought Kutateladze won. He was more affective in both rounds one and three and the momentum was clearly in his favor in the closing moments of the fight. However, it turns out if you want to be sure of victory, never leave it in the hands of the judges.
Marquez versus Rodrigues
Middleweight Gregory Rodrigues hit his opponent Julian Marquez with an attacking fire that proved to be too much. Early in the first round, Rodrigues landed a powerful overhand right that sent Marquez insane. He was essentially on his feet but somehow found the will to keep swinging. However, Rodrigues saw an opportunity to seize the moment and didn’t let it slip. He landed another vicious right hand, this time slapping Marquez cold and forcing the referee to stop the fight.
Yanez vs Kelley
Bantamweight Adrian Yanez made quick work of opponent Tony Kelley tonight; knock him out in the first round. This extends his impressive winning streak to nine fights, including all of his five fights in the UFC. At 28, Yanez is a potential star who could be on his way to a championship shot if his career continues on its current trajectory.
Cowboy Cerrone’s fight against Joe Lauzon was canceled earlier today. There’s still no word on why Lauzon decided to retire from the fight. However, Cowboy was spotted ringside during the bouts along with his wife and their two sons.
In the post-fight interview, Josh Emmett begged Dana White to let him face off against the winner of the upcoming Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway bout. Although Emmett performed well tonight, I honestly can’t see him beating Volkanovski or Holloway in the octagon. Personally, I predict Volkanovski will defeat Holloway and retain the featherweight championship; There’s a reason he’s ranked 2nd in the organization’s pound-for-pound rankings. However, Emmett made the most of his moment, and if he wants to use a post-fight interview to make his case, I won’t argue against that strategy.
UFC fight night returns to the Apex Center in Las Vegas next week when lightweight contenders Arman Tsarukyan and Mateusz Gamrot meet in the Octagon during the Main Event. As always, we will provide the latest updates on the results of the fights, as well as detailed analysis, right here at World in Sport!
Until next time, take care of yourselves and each other.