UFC Fight Night at the Apex in Las Vegas Saturday evening lost a bit of its bite when the Holly Holm bout against Irene Aldana was canceled after the latter tested positive for COVID-19.
Even then, a lot went down in the desert as the UFC returned stateside. Jennifer Maia made a huge statement against the heavily favored Joanne Calderwood. Meanwhile, Edmen Shahbazyan lost in upset fashion to Derek Brunson in the main event.
These are among the biggest winners and losers from UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas.
It was back in March that Emmers lost his debut at this level during UFC 248. It was controversial in that the California native lost to Giga Chikadze via split decision. As a result, Emmers, 31, needed a win against Vince Cachero in Vegas Saturday night to find himself on the radar of the powers to be.
That’s exactly what happened in a bout that concluded with Emmers winning via unanimous decision. He absolutely dominated Cachero throughout the fight, landing 103 significant strikes compared to 76. Emmers also took down Cachero five times compared to zero. It culminated in his first UFC victory.
The obvious backdrop to Saturday night’s slate in Vegas included the main event being canceled after Irene Aldana tested positive for COVID-19. It was expected to be a potential No. 1 contender fight for Aldana, who had won each of his previous two bouts. Holm was also looking to get back into the championship conversation in the Bantamweight division after losing to current champ Amanda Nunes at UFC 239 last July.
The bout would have pitted the No. 2-ranked Holm against an up-and-coming Aldana. Alas, it was not to be. This isn’t great considering the fact that the UFC went off without a hitch at Fight Island in Abu Dhabi over the past couple months. It’s first event stateside since and was marred by the pandemic plaguing the United States.
Following a loss to Andre Ewell at UFC 247 back in February, Martinez needed a win over Frankie Saenz Saturday night in Vegas. Pretty much out of the gate, it was clear that the Texas native was on a mission. Martinez landed 40 more significant strikes than his counterpart, brutalizing Saenz in every possible way.
When it looked as if Martinez was headed for a unanimous decision victory, he decided that a knockout was in the cards. Early in Round 3, Martinez used a combination of kicks and punches to knock Saenz out. It represented potentially the biggest win of Martinez’s career.
Both of these Bantamweight fighters entered Saturday’s event on winning streaks. For Durden, it represented the first bout of his UFC career after he won each of his past seven fights at lower levels. For Gutierrez, he was coming off a win over Vince Morales back in May.
Unfortunately for the pair, this fight ended in a unanimous draw. It represented the first unanimous draw without a point deduction in UFC history. Way to make the history books in the wrong way. At the very least, neither fighter left Vegas with a loss.
Before taking out Clay Guida back in June, this 33-year-old veteran had not won a bout since all the way back in January 2018. A veteran of the lightweight division, Green needed to make another statement against Lando Vannata at the Apex in Vegas.
That’s exactly what Green did, displaying his violent tendencies throughout the fight. Green landed a whopping 115 significant strikes to 54 en route to winning by decision.
I am certainly going to give Green credit for overcoming some massive blows from Vannata in this one. He showed that those struggles of the past are far behind him. That’s for sure.
Brown was looking to ascend the Welterweight rankings after winning two consecutive bouts heading into Saturday’s match against Vicente Luque. It was a pretty big stage for Brown going up against the 11th-ranked fighter in the division. Unfortunately, Brown was in no way up to the task. Luque absolutely dominated his counterpart.
A fight that was seemingly even heading into the end of Round 2 took a turn (see video above), as Brown was devastated by a right knee before Luque ended it for good. Not a great showing from Brown here.
Before Saturday night’s bout in Vegas, this Brazilian contender had not taken to the Octagon since November of last year. Ranked No. 6 in the Flyweight division, Maia certainly wanted to make a statement against the No. 3-ranked Joanne Calderwood in the co-main event.
UPSET!— UFC (@ufc) August 2, 2020
Jennifer Maia shocks Calderwood w/ a RD 1 sub.
Main event is next LIVE on ESPN+ pic.twitter.com/1vObSH0Lhj
As you can see, that’s exactly what Maia did. A Round 1 arm bar submission. How impressive was that from the underdog? She’s now clearly on the radar of current champ Valentina Shevchenko.
“The Golden Boy” entered Saturday’s bout against Derek Brunson a perfect 11-0 in his career. A big favorite in this match between two top-10 middleweight fighters, Shahbazyan could have made a major statement in Vegas. After all, he was coming off a knockout of Brad Tavares at UFC 244 last November. It was not to be.
Derek Brunson 3rd rd knockout, upset alert! pic.twitter.com/JYbRw75gNw— SEATTLE MIKE (@fightswfriends) August 2, 2020
That’s just a brutal result for Shahbazyan, losing by knockout. In reality, he was dominated throughout the match. That included Brunson landing 83 significant strikes compared to 35. It’s now obvious that Shahbazyan will be ranked outside of the top 10. Any hopes of a potential headline fight moving can also be thrown out the window for now.
“The Silent Assassin” more than lived up to that nickname against Randy Brown Saturday night at the Apex in Vegas. Ranked 11th in the Welterweight division, Luque needed an impressive performance to find himself on the radar of teammate and current champion Kamaru Usman. He did not disappoint.
Toward the end of Round 2, Luque caught Brown with a devastating right knee and four right jabs to earn the knockout victory in stunning fashion. The fight was seemingly close before this violent combination of significant strikes. Yeah, Luque made a major statement.