On Saturday night, the mixed martial arts leader returned for its latest event, UFC Fight Night: Holly Holm vs. Mayra Bueno Silva.
After a blockbuster UFC 290 pay-per-view at the T-Mobile Arena last weekend, the promotion returned to action following International Fight Week with a much more low-key event from the Apex facility.
Because nothing says ‘keep the momentum going’ like the Apex, am I right? No!?
In a far-cry from the previous card, just three ranked fighters took to the Octagon, two of which made up the main event. Topping the card was former bantamweight queen Holly Holm, who hoped to stake her claim for a shot at the division’s vacant belt by defending her place on the ladder against the rising Mayra Bueno Silva.
The other notable contender on the card was ranked welterweight Jack Della Maddalena. After a pair of cancelled fights last weekend, the Australian got his wish for a late-notice bout thanks to Bassil Hafez, who made his debut in Saturday’s co-main event.
With the likes of flyweight veteran Tyson Nam, fan favorite Terrance McKinney, and the always entertaining Junyong Park also in action, the card looked to boast the potential for memorable action in spite of its lackluster lineup.
But did that come to fruition? Let’s find out with all the positives and negatives from UFC Fight Night: Holm vs. Bueno Silva.
Tonight's FULL #UFCVegas77 lineup 🔥
[ B2YB @SlateMilk ] pic.twitter.com/mk0mXWh4bJ
— UFC (@ufc) July 15, 2023
Positive – A Fight!
Saturday’s UFC Fight Night preliminary card was largely forgettable and got off to a pretty slow start. Who’d have thought that seven straight fights without a single athlete coming off a win inside the Octagon might be underwhelming?
In the event’s opener, Ailin Perez recorded her first UFC victory with a dominant display against Ashlee Evans-Smith. While the Argentine’s performance was impressive, it came opposite little resistance, and the more memorable aspect was actually her post-fight celebration and interview.
The following two contests were nothing to shout home about, although the arrival of the undefeated Azat Maksum was a plus for the flyweight decision — even if his victory over Tyson Nam wasn’t particularly decisive.
But the action did pick up when the fourth pairing took to the cage, with Evan Elder and Genaro Valdéz throwing down with some clubbing blows across three rounds. Their 15-minute bout saw both men floored by some clean shots, with the American ultimately having his hand raised via unanimous decision.
On most cards, perhaps an entertaining prelim such as this wouldn’t have been worthy of an entry. But after an underwhelming start to Saturday’s event, Elder and Valdéz’s battle was a welcome trip to violenceville.
Both guys landing knockdowns 😳
Headed into round 3️⃣ now! #UFCVegas77 pic.twitter.com/YNjscCEUYw
— UFC (@ufc) July 16, 2023
Negative – Hard To Watch
On a scale of one to hiding behind my hands, the replay of the fight-ending sequence in Victoria Dudakova and Istela Nunes’ bout actually had me behind a sofa.
Russia’s Dudakova made her promotional debut last night, looking to add to the woes of American Top Team’s Nunes, who entered the contest 0-3 inside the Octagon. Unfortunately, I’m not sure there are many worse ways for a losing streak to continue than what the Brazilian experienced at UFC Fight Night: Holm vs. Bueno Silva.
After just 34 seconds, the fight was over. Rather than that being the kind of memorably quick knockout or submission we’d have desired, it was courtesy of a truly horrific injury.
While attempting to post on her left arm as her Russian opponent shot for a takedown, Nunes’ limb bent horrifically, with her elbow appearing to dislocate. As if the injury wasn’t gruesome enough, the Brazilian’s screams as she lay stricken on the ground and as she made her way backstage made this an extremely tough watch.
Coincidentally, I had been pondering a similar injury happening during a grappling exchange earlier in the night. After a string of breaks and dislocations in 2021 — Chris Weidman’s broken leg, Jacare Souza’s broken arm, Jamahal Hill’s dislocated elbow, Conor McGregor’s leg break — things largely settled down in the world of disgusting injuries that make you want to vomit. With that in mind, I thought one was due…
Apologies Nunes, I take full blame for jinxing it.
Viktoriia Dudakova picks up the first round TKO win due to an elbow injury to Istela Nunes. pic.twitter.com/kl807Z0Bgn
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 16, 2023
Negative – *Insert Nate Diaz Quote*
A referee allowing multiple fouls to go unpunished? “I’m not surprised motherf*ckers.”
Barely an event goes by without a negative entry regarding the actions of an official — or perhaps more accurately, lack of action.
For a recap on all the examples of incompetency when it comes to handling fouls, readers can essentially check out any previous edition of this editorial. Be it Mark Smith, Chris Tognoni, or other frequent antagonists, there is an endless list of referees being unwilling to punish fouling inside the Octagon.
Sometimes we see multiple and potentially fight-altering fence grabs go by with just warnings, other times it’s low blows, and then the common eye poke is often permitted. Well, how about all three?
En route to a victory over Tucker Lutz on Saturday night, featherweight prospect Melsik Baghdasaryan completed the triad of Octagon indiscretions. After connecting low with a firm right hand, the Armenian prevented a takedown with a clear grab of the cage (an action he repeated numerous times in round three) before digging a couple of fingers into his opponent’s eyes.
Of course, no point was taken by Jacob Montalvo, and we can add that fight to the list of further evidence coaches can use when advising their fighters to consistently break the rules. At this point, why wouldn’t they? Why wouldn’t a striker being taken down use the fence to stay on the feet, especially when, in the past, they’ve even been rewarded for it with stand-ups?
I’ve lost hope of this issue ever becoming rectified, but that doesn’t mean the question shouldn’t be asked — why do athletes who get reminded of the rules in the back receive multiple free passes during the fight!?
✅ Dick punch
✅ Cage grab
✅ Two-finger eye-poke
— Dann Stupp (@DannStupp) July 16, 2023
Positive – Finally!
At the conclusion of the prelims, the closest we had come to a finish was a disgusting elbow dislocation, and that’s a stoppage that even the sickest of the MMA fanbase would struggle to watch back.
Unsurprisingly, the first pairing on the main card rectified the absence of a finish.
Opening proceedings were Nazim Sadykhov and Terrance McKinney, two lightweights who have shown a penchant for entertainment so far into their Octagon careers.
Although the first round went by with McKinney holding his foe’s back, things picked up in the second when “Black Wolf” established a dominant grappling position himself. While taking the back, Sadykhov expertly trapped the American’s left arm, leaving him defenseless to a rear-naked choke that quickly brought about a tap.
RNCs are a pretty common form of submission in MMA and usually appear pretty regulation. Sadykhov, however, showed his promise with an innovative and mightily impressive use of it.
Suffice to say, a finish of that quality was worth the wait.
Sadykhov makes a statement! Weathers the early McKinney storm and locks in a RNC with his arm behind his back 😮 #UFCVegas77 pic.twitter.com/6VFXCDLhvn
— MMANews (@mmanews_com) July 16, 2023
Positive – Turtle! Turtle!
The UFC is a better place when Junyong Park is dancing while the crowd chant, ‘Turtle! Turtle!’
We’ve seen some moves inside the Octagon throughout the UFC’s history, but I’m confident in placing Park’s hips on Saturday night inside the top five of all time. And the fact that it came after one of the event’s standout performances made it even better.
“The Iron Turtle” is one of middleweight’s perennial entertainers. From a Fight of the Night war with Gregory Rodrigues to submissions of Joseph Holmes and Denis Tiuliulin, action has long been guaranteed when the South Korean enters the cage.
That was the case at UFC Fight Night: Holm vs. Bueno Silva, where Park beat up Albert Duraev on the feet before submitting him via rear-naked choke on the ground in round two.
With four wins in a row and three consecutive submissions, it’s time to recognize Park as more than just an exciting middle-order middleweight.
DO NOT SLEEP ON THE IRON TURTLE 🐢
Junyong Park with the finish and the shimmy 🕺 #UFCVegas77 pic.twitter.com/hYeENz3DXz
— UFC (@ufc) July 16, 2023
Negative – Constant Misinformation
Much like the constant decision of referees to ignore and allow multiple fouls, the UFC commentary team spread misinformation at the same frequency at virtually each and every event.
The main culprits in that regard have largely been Dominick Cruz and Daniel Cormier. With that, perhaps this entry was inevitable when both men appeared on the desk together last night…
During Jack Della Maddalena and Bassil Hafez’s co-main event scrap, “The Dominator” and “DC” were at it again. After a strong first round for the newcomer, Della Maddalena came out in the second and let his hands go, piecing up and hurting Hafez for the first three minutes.
The debutant desperately shot for a takedown and assumed top position for the remaining couple of minutes in an act that Cruz even admitted practically saved him. But despite the Australian’s offense and his opponent’s lack of in that regard on the ground, both Cruz and Cormier laughably suggested that Hafez could have stolen the frame.
At this point, what is it if not incompetence? The judging debate is as fiery as ever, and while the cageside scorers do make mistakes, the discussion is by and large down to a lack of education on the scoring criteria.
And who’s to blame for that? Those responsible for accurately calling the action who can’t even be bothered to read and correctly apply the scoring criteria to their commentary.
A brief look at the replies to tweets about Della Maddalena’s victory shows the effect that Cruz and Cormier’s words had, with some ridiculously branding the result a ‘robbery’.
Get Sanko back on the mic, damnit!
Round 2 of Della Maddalena vs Hafez is a great example of damage winning over control, as it should.
JDM bodied that dude for 3 minutes, then got laid on for 90 seconds or so without taking any damage or being threatened by subs.
No debate: JDM Won R2 and the fight.
— Luca Fury (@LucaFury) July 16, 2023
Positive – An Injection Of Excitement?
Maybe all hope isn’t lost in the women’s bantamweight division…
Heading into Saturday’s event, I was fearing another lackluster decision victory for former champion Holly Holm, leaving a title picture comprising of Julianna Peña, Raquel Pennington, and “The Preacher’s Daughter” following Amanda Nunes’ retirement.
The equivalent of a party in a library.
It feels unlikely that Bueno Silva will get a shot at the vacant belt over either the #1 or #2-ranked contenders, but I tend to agree with the Brazilian’s assessment that nobody is crying out to see the Peña vs. Pennington matchup.
“Sheetara,” on the other hand, has established herself as a real finisher at 135 pounds with three submission victories in a row. And with her latest being a rare ninja choke against Holm in her main event debut, Bueno Silva’s talent is undeniable.
Looking through the pecking order in the bantamweight division, it’s hard to see a more intriguing and watchable name in the top 15 than Bueno Silva. With that, a surprising positive emerged from what appeared to be a less than exciting headliner on paper.
🙌 @MayraSheetara making a case for her title shot! #UFCVegas77 pic.twitter.com/6ECEABm3Xp
— UFC (@ufc) July 16, 2023
Read Also: UFC Fight Night Results & Highlights: Mayra Bueno Silva Submits Holly Holm