UFC on ESPN 21: Brunson vs Holland Main Card Matchmaking

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Derek Brunson def. Kevin Holland via Unanimous Decision

Derek Brunson – Paulo Costa

Derek Brunson’s role of derailing hype trains continued again on Saturday night. He has now won his last four fights to men below him in the rankings. Brunson called for a step up in competition and he deserves it. In the past, Brunson hasn’t been able to get a victory over the elite of the division. With Paulo Costa pulling out of the Robert Whittaker due to illness, that leaves Costa without an opponent for when he’s ready to return. Derek Brunson called out Costa following the fight, and it makes all the sense in the world. A win over Costa would be the biggest win of the 37-year-old’s career.

Kevin Holland – Zak Cummings

Kevin Holland cranked up his trash talking game to a new extreme on Saturday night. From the opening bell, Holland talked to just about everyone in the arena during his 25-minute bout with Brunson. Unfortunately for Holland, the experience of Brunson overwhelmed Holland in the wrestling department. It will be back to the drawing board for Holland in 2021. Despite the loss, he remains an exciting prospect that fans seem to love. We will see his spot in the rankings drop, but don’t expect him to fall out of the rankings entirely. Zak Cummings was recently forced out of an upcoming bout for undisclosed reasons. He has won five of his last seven fights and deserves a spot in the rankings in the eyes of many.

Max Griffin def. Song Kenan via KO (Punches)

Max Griffin – Carlos Condit

Max Griffin could be the most underappreciated man at welterweight. Despite having a 5-6 record in the promotion, Griffin has only ever been finished once in his 25-fight career. With the victory on Saturday night, Griffin has now earned consecutive wins for the first time with the promotion. He called for a fight with Geoff Neal after his knockout win which is a fight many would be excited for. The UFC will likely not grant him his wish unfortunately. Griffin should be looking at veterans outside the Top 15 for his next bout. A fight with former title challenger Carlos Condit should be next for Griffin. Both men have recently strung together consecutive victories for the first time in years and should be matched up. A win over someone like Condit would give Max Griffin some leverage when calling for guys inside the rankings.

Song Kenan – Lyman Good

Song Kenan is a problem for almost everyone with their back against the wall in the promotion. Every opponent Kenan has beaten has been released from the promotion shortly after their defeat. Griffin could have suffered the same fate had he lost to the Chinese fighter on the weekend. Kenan is a very exciting striker and should be matched up with someone else with high-level striking. Lyman Good hasn’t been seen inside the octagon since his defeat to Belal Muhammad last June. Good possesses tremendous power which would make for a crowd-pleasing fight with Song Kenan.

Montserrat Ruiz def. Cheyanne Ruiz via Unanimous Decision

Montserrat Ruiz – Cory McKenna

Montserrat entered as an underdog on the evening which was surprising to a lot of fans. She has superior grappling and was able to display that in the night. Disregarding the controversy at the end of the fight, Ruiz has as good a performance she could have asked for. 21-year-old Cory McKenna impressed many in her victory over Kay Hansen in her UFC debut. Training out of Team Alpha Male, McKenna is viewed by many as the UK’s next big star. A fight with Ruiz would be a step up in competition for McKenna but one she would surely entertain. For Ruiz, it is another opportunity to derail another bright young prospect in the strawweight division.

Cheyanne Buys – Mallory Martin

It was a forgettable night for the Buys family as JP and Cheyanne both came up short. Ruiz was able to use her superior wrestling to nullify the game plan of Buys. She has now fallen to 5-2 as a professional and will likely be booked against someone in a similar position. Mallory Martin has dropped two of her last three fights via submission and finds herself in need of a victory. A bout between the two would be a nice addition to an undercard of a fight night in the early summer.

Adrian Yanez def. Gustavo Lopez via KO (Punch)

Adrian Yanez – Trevin Jones

It seems as if every weekend a bantamweight steals the show. The division is the best it has ever been with so many rising up-and-coming prospects. This past weekend, Adrian Yanez stole the show with his knockout of Gustavo Lopez. The knockout was a message to the entire division that he is a prospect to be feared. After the fight he called out Nate Maness, who currently has a fight booked. Two weeks before Yanez made the walk for the second time, Trevin Jones made his second UFC appearance. Like Yanez, Jones finished his opponent to remain undefeated in the promotion. A fight between the two would bring crown pleasing action from the opening bell.

Gustavo Lopez – Drako Rodriguez

Gustavo Lopez was on the back foot for the majority of the fight with Adrian Yanez having his number on the feet. In the third he got a little more aggressive knowing he needed a finish. Unfortunately for Lopez, Yanez was able to land the finishing blow early in the third. With the loss, he has dropped to 1-2 in the promotion which does include a victory over Anthony Birchak. Drako Rodriguez finds himself in need of a victory in his next fight. He suffered a knockout loss at the hands of Aiemann Zahabi last month. Both men will likely have extensive medical suspensions as a result of their knockouts. When both get the medical go-ahead, a fight between the two should be booked.

Tai Tuivasa def. Harry Hunsucker via TKO (Punches)

Tai Tuivasa – Aleksei Oleynik

It’s crazy to think this time last year Tai Tuivasa was about to be released from the promotion. In just a few short years, the Aussie has become a favorite among the fans worldwide. His desire to simply punch people in the face and drink piss (beer) has seen his stock rise dramatically. He has now won back-to-back fights in the first round. Tuivasa asked for a quick turnaround in the next couple weeks so he could make more money before returning home. If the UFC could find a willing combatant on a few days notice, I would love to see Tuivasa at UFC 260. Realistically that may be a tough task so he’ll likely be looking at a little layoff. Alexey Oleynik is likely on his way out of the sport at 43-years-old. For the Russian, a win over the Aussie would keep him relevant at 265lbs. For Tuivasa, a finish over a veteran like Oleynik would likely see him get a number next to his name.

Harry Hunsucker – Gian Villante

Harry Hunsucker will be in the UFC’s good graces for some time after this one. Hunsucker took a fight on the contender series on four days notice and has now done the same in the UFC. Despite suffering first round defeats in both contests, he proved that he can be counted on the biggest stage. Hunsucker is now 7-4 and has never been out of the first round. There are not many options available for Hunsucker at heavyweight at the moment. One of the only men available is UFC veteran Gian Villante. Both men are likely a loss away from a release from the promotion, so a win would be a must.

Sergio Pineiro

Sergio Pineiro is the Founder of FighterPath.com and host of the Quarantinecast podcast. Based in Canada he is both a sports journalist and MMA enthusiast. He practices the sport but has a passion for the individual stories of training, fighting and living the fighting lifestyle.

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