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411’s UFC Fight Night Report: Brunson Wins

March 21, 2021 | Posted by Robert Winfree
UFC on ESPN 21

MAIN CARD (ESPN, 10 p.m. ET)
#7 Derek Brunson (186 lbs.) vs. #10 Kevin Holland (183 lbs.)
Gregor Gillespie (155.5) vs. Brad Riddell (155.5)
Max Griffin (170.5 lbs.) vs. Song Kenan (171 lbs.)
Cheyanne Buys (116 lbs.) vs. Montserrat Ruiz (115 lbs.)
Gustavo Lopez (136 lbs.) vs. Adrian Yanez (135 lbs.)
Harry Hunsucker (249 lbs.) vs. Tai Tuivasa (264.5 lbs.)

#11 Macy Chiasson (136 lbs.) vs. #9 Marion Reneau (136 lbs.)
Grant Dawson (156 lbs.) vs. Leonardo Santos (155.5 lbs.)
Roman Dolidze (185 lbs.) vs. Trevin Giles (185.5 lbs.)
Montel Jackson (136 lbs.) vs. Jesse Strader (137.5 lbs.)*
JP Buys (126 lbs.) vs. Bruno Silva (126 lbs.)

Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC on ESPN 21. I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host for the evening, relaying all of the action to you just as I see it. This card went through some adversity, but our main event is still intact when top middleweights Derek Brunson and Kevin Holland will square off. We lost the co-main event, a really good fight between Gregor Gillespie and Brad Riddell due to Covid protocols, and lost a fight between Julia Stoliarenko Julia Avila when Stoliarenko fainted during the weigh ins. Mostly we’re in hope mode for this card, but there’s reason to be somewhat optimistic.

UFC on ESPN 21 comes to the world from the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. On commentary we have Brendan Fitzgerald, Michael Bisping, and Paul Felder. As for the rules we’re mostly under the new ones but you still only need one hand on the mat to be considered downed, and there’s a replay official out of the cage who can request the use of instant replay as well as the in cage ref. Also a fight can be restarted after instant replay if that’s applicable to the situation.

JP Buys has a five fight winning streak coming into his UFC debut, he’s hoping to extend that here and make a good first impression on the UFC audience. Bruno Silva has gone 0-2 with 1 No Contest in the UFC, and has his back against the wall here if he wants to prove himself worth keeping around in the promotion. The debuting Buys is the favorite at -135 to +115 on Silva.

Flyweight Bout: JP Buys (9-2, 126 lbs.) vs. Bruno Silva (10-5-2 1 NC, 126 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Buys is an inch taller and has two inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Both men circle early, and Silva tries an inside low kick that hits the groin so Buys has time to recover. Buys takes about 40 seconds then we’re back to fighting. Silva lands a calf kick. Buys lands a bit of a right. There’s a finger to the eye of Buys now, so we’ve got another break. Replay confirms the thumb of Silva went into the eye. Again about 40 seconds later we’re back to fighting, the ref warns Silva for the last time. Buys lands a leg kick. Right from Buys, then he slips on a jumping kick and Silva gets on top in half guard. Buys is able to scramble to full guard. Some elbows from the bottom but Silva passes to half guard. Buys gets full guard back and scoots to the fence. Buys wall walks up, Silva holding a clinch on the cage. Mat return from Silva but he can’t get position and they’re back up. Buys uses a kimura threat to force a change of position and gets Silva on the cage. Some shoulder strikes and knees from Buys. Silva winds up slipping free and they reset. Uppercut from Silva lands. They trade jabs, then Silva lands a calf kick and forces another clinch. They break, then Silva lands a spinning back fist just as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Silva

ROUND TWO: Buys is coming forward to start the round, they both have head kicks blocked. Calf kick from Buys. Buys slips throwing a front kick and Silva jumps onto him and gets on top in full guard. Silva starts working body to head blows. Buys back up and blocks a high kick. Silva lands a calf kick and is circling around. Buys with a calf kick. Silva lands a right but Buys gets a clinch and has him on the cage. Elbow from Buys as they break the clinch. Silva slips a punch and lands a counter right that drops Buys. Buys tries to fight up but Silva drops him again. Buys fights up yet again and they trade on the fence, then Silva backs off. Another counter right from Silva over the shoulder of Buys drops him and the ref has seen enough.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Bruno Silva via TKO, punches, at 2:56 of Round 2

Mic time for Silva, he feels good and hopes the win will get him resigned by the UFC. He says he wasn’t too concerned about Buys’ wrestling and then talks us through the finish. He puts over his training partner Henry Cejudo before saying he’ll be around for the next few weeks if the UFC needs him. To close he goes into Portuguese.

The closing punch here is nearly identical to the one that dropped Buys, Silva takes a superior angle and fires the right hand over the somewhat lazy jab of Buys. Also note that Buys doesn’t move his head or really get down behind the shoulder, so the punch finds purchase around the temple and drops him for the second time in the round.

Montel Jackson has gone 3-2 in the UFC but is coming off of a loss, he’ll be trying to avoid his first ever losing streak by getting back on the winning side of things in this fight. Jesse Strader missed weight for this fight, never a good thing in your promotional debut, and now he needs a win to help smooth over the weight gaff. Jackson is the biggest favorite on the card at a whopping -700 while the +500 payout on Strader likely tempts a few degenerate gamblers out there.

Bantamweight Bout: Montel Jackson (9-2, 136 lbs.) vs. Jesse Strader (5-1, 137.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Jackson is three inches taller and has five and a half inches of reach advantage. They touch gloves, Jackson fighting southpaw. Strader working inside and outside leg kicks while circling. Jackson starts kicking back, both men still getting a feel for things. Bit of a body kick from Strader. A couple of calf kicks from Strader. Jackson misses a right, they clinch then he lands a right on the break that drops Strader. Strader fights back up and swings back to get Jackson to back off. Another left from Jackson drops Strader along the fence, he stands over Strader and lands enough punches to prompt the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Montel Jackson via TKO, punches, at 1:58 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Jackson for his work this evening. Strader was horribly overmatched. Mic time for Jackson, he thanks Strader for taking the fight on short notice then the fans for supporting the UFC. He talks us through the finish, then plans on talking with his coaches about what’s next.

The really nice right hook from Jackson on the clinch break is what starts this all off. You’ve got to be cognizant of your defense at all points, especially clinch breaks as there are a ton of opportunities to land damage there.

We get some news about UFC 260 next week, the featherweight title fight between champion Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega is being postponed as there was some kind of Covid issue on the Volkanovski side. That really sucks, I was looking forward to that one.

Trevin Giles has gone 4-2 in the UFC but he’s on a two fight winning streak and could earn another shot at someone ranked if he can get to three in a row tonight. Roman Dolidze is undefeated including two wins in the UFC but is making his first cut to middleweight while with the promotion. He took this fight on somewhat short notice but if he can remain undefeated at the expense of Giles he could be the one earning a shot at the top end of the division. The odds are with Dolidze at -115 to a -105 comeback on Giles.

Middleweight Bout: Roman Dolidze (8-0, 185 lbs.) vs. Trevin Giles (13-2, 185.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Dolidze has two inches of height and reach. They touch gloves, Dolidze fighting southpaw. Some stance switching from Dolidze, he’s working calf kicks. Bit of a jab from Giles. Giles has a high kick blocked. Dolidze lands another calf kick. Giles lands a straight right. Dolidze with a bit of a combination then a calf kick. Those calf kicks from Dolidze are starting to add up. Dolidze hits a single leg and he’s got Giles down. Giles scoots to the fence and wall walks but Dolidze is on his back looking for a mat return. Giles is able to get chest to chest but can’t get off the fence. Dolidze with knees to the body and thigh. They’ll grind out the final minute or so in that position.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Dolidze

ROUND TWO: Both men come out swinging to start the second. Giles lands a couple of punches, Dolidze lands a calf kick. Stiff jab from Giles, but he misses the follow up right. Dolidze lands a body kick. Bit of a left from Dolidze. Dolidze lands another body kick. Both men land punches in close, Giles clinches up but Dolidze rolls under for a leg lock. Dolidze tries to crank on a heel hook but loses the knee line and Giles with punches. Another adjustment from Dolidze, he’s after the inside heel hook but can’t quite finish it. Giles is defending well so far. Dolidze tries to set up the heel hook again, Giles with some punches but his leg is in danger this time. Giles breaks his leg entanglement and scrambles up but Dolidze is on his back standing. Giles slips free and lands a punch but Dolidze is back on him in the clinch. Dolidze with some knees to the thigh and body as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Giles, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Both men are slowing down as this round starts. Dolidze lands a calf kick. Bit of a head kick from Dolidze. Giles lands a straight right. Clubbing right from Giles then he avoids a takedown attempt. Another high kick from Dolidze partially lands. Straight right form Giles wobbles Dolidze, he gets a front head lock as they hit the mat and transitions towards a cradle. Dolidze back up and Giles slips free of the clinch. They clinch again, Dolidze gives up his back and is mat returned but he’s tying up the legs again. Dolidze is after a knee bar, but Giles is able to defend but gives up the position and Dolidze is on top in side control. Giles to his knees in the sprawl position, Dolidze holds the headlock as they stand then he drags him back down to a knee against the fence. Dolidze working from the ride position, Giles back up and gets the back standing then they break free and Giles with a bit of a head kick. They collide on blows, then clinch again and hit the fence. Giles tries a sacrifice throw, Dolidze stifles that and lands on top in full mount. A few elbows from Dolidze land, Giles scrambles back up to his feet. Giles flops down, Dolidze ends the round on top in side control.

SCORECARD: 10-10 DRAW, 29-29 DRAW overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Trevin Giles via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

No issues with that. Mic time for Giles, he says he wasn’t happy with the performance and wouldn’t have been mad if he lost as he doesn’t like involving the judges. He says he did a lot of tape study and was ready for the leg lock game.

Leonardo Santos hasn’t lost since 2009 and has gone 7-0-1 during his time in the UFC, unfortunately he’s only averaged one fight a year but if he wants to make a legitimate run he’ll need a win here and a more active schedule going forward. Grant Dawson has gone 4-0 in the UFC as part of an overall seven fight winning streak, and if he can hand Santos his first UFC loss it will be a notable feather in his cap as his UFC run continues. Dawson is your favorite at -210 while a +175 payout rests on Santos.

Lightweight Bout: Grant Dawson (16-1, 156 lbs.) vs. Leonardo Santos (18-3-1, 155.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Santos is two inches taller, has three inches of reach advantage, and is a whopping 14 years older. Southpaw for Santos and he’s feinting his way forward. A few leg kicks from Santos. Bit of a right from Santos, then he avoids a double leg and lands a right. Dawson lands a right in reply. Front kick to the body from Dawson, Santos with an inside leg kick. Santos keeps chopping at the leg, he slips a jab and lands a right. Clubbing right from Dawson is blocked but it off balances Santos, then he shoots a double leg that hits the fence. Santos avoids a couple of takedowns but can’t get free. Dawson gets to a body lock but he still can’t get Santos down off the fence. Santos hits an uchimata and lands on top in guard. Dawson slips to the fence and starts looking to wall walk. Back up and they start fighting in the clinch again. Dawson is bleeding from the back of his skull, not sure what he caught it on but it looks like the kind of cut you get from the fence. They end the round still clinched up.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Dawson but could go either way

ROUND TWO: Santos with a bit of a front kick to the body. Dawson avoids a chopping right. Santos lands an inside leg kick. Both men with kicks, but neither finding a whole lot of success. Bit of a right from Dawson, Santos lands a knee to the body. They clash on kicks, and Dawson took one to the groin so we’ve got time out. Dawson took about a minute, then we’re back to fighting. Both men back to probing with kicks. Bit of a one two from Santos, then a leg kick. Dawson with an inside leg kick. Santos lands a knee to the body as Dawson forces a clinch and they hit the fence. Dawson starts landing knees to the body and leg. Things stall out enough to get the ref to break them up. Santos lands a right, avoids a double leg then spins to the back while Dawson is in the turtle guard. Dawson back to his feet but still on the fence with Santos on his back. They trade along the fence, then break after Santos lands a right. Dawson lands a wheel kick as the last blow of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Santos, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Dawson with a bit of a right to start the round. Body kick from Dawson, Santos counters then avoids a takedown attempt. Dawson is trying to switch to a single leg, but they hit the fence and wind up fighting there again. Dawson is really after this high crotch but Santos is defending. It takes a minute but Dawson slips around to the back and hits a mat return to get on top in half guard. A few punches land for Dawson. Dawson is doing enough not to get the ref involved but he’s not able to put anything really impressive together. Santos tries to fish for a deep half guard move, and uses that to get butterfly guard. Santos tries to tie up the legs, but Dawson stands over him and lands hammer fists, Santos is out with just seconds left in the fight!

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Grant Dawson via KO, hammer fists, at 4:59 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Dawson for his work this evening. Mic time for Dawson, he wants a post fight bonus for the last second KO. He talks us through the finish, and notes he isn’t happy with the overall performance but mentions he does plan on staying at lightweight now. To close he calls out Clay Guida, then asks Paul Felder to follow him on instagram, Felder says he will.

Santos not only leaves his chin unprotected, more critically he doesn’t upset the base of Dawson with his right leg which is in I think a reverse De La Riva hook. The end result is Dawson holding a firm base and using it to bring down Donkey Kong style hammer fists to an open target.

Marion Reneau has had a very up and down UFC run, going 5-5-1 but she’s on a three fight losing streak and at 43 can’t afford a fourth consecutive loss here if she wants to remain a relevant fighter in the division. Macy Chiasson has gone 4-1 in the UFC, she’s coming off of a win and hoping to build another winning streak while making her way towards a title opportunity. Despite being ranked lower Chiasson is the -220 favorite to a +180 comeback on Reneau.

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: #11 Macy Chiasson (6-1, 136 lbs.) vs. #9 Marion Reneau (9-6-1, 136 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Chiasson is five inches taller, has four inches of reach advantage and is 14 years younger. They touch gloves to get us going. Chiasson is circling and probing with long range strikes. Stiff jab from Chiasson. Reneau lands a leg kick. Chiasson with a couple of punches to counter a leg kick. A lot of stance switching from Chiasson. Reneau lands a right hand. Combination from Reneau in close lands, she’s picking her shots quite well. Body kick from Chiasson. Reneau lands a leg kick then blocks a high kick. Chiasson lands a left, and takes a counter right. Both women land hard body kicks. They clinch up, Reneay gets Chiasson on the fence and lands a couple of knees then slips behind to the back. Reneau can’t quite hit a mat return, but lands an elbow as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Reneau

ROUND TWO: Both women swinging again as the round starts. Chiasson lands a left hook that staggers Reneau, Chiasson pushes her into the fence and they clinch up. Reneau is bleeding from the nose after that hook. They jockey for position, move off the fence but wind up back there eventually. Both women with knees to the body. Chiasson with some lefts to the nose. More knees are traded back and forth. Elbow from Chiasson, she’s starting to amp up the offense. They break with a body kick from Chiasson that hurt Reneau. Reneau lands a straight right. Chiasson lands a left. They trade again, Chiasson gets the better of it. Trip takedown for Reneau, she lands in leg drag, almost full mount. Chiasson gets her legs in play and sweeps with a leg lock attempt to get on top in full guard. Reneau working her guard up, but nothing will come before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Chiasson, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Both women striking again, Reneau lands a bit of a head kick. Reneau lands a right, Chiasson counters with a left. Leg kick from Reneau lands. Chiasson still stalking forward. Reneau gets the back and drags Chiasson to her knees. Chiasson back up, and lands a left hook as they separate. Both women land punches but Chiasson is working combinations while Reneau is more one and done. Reneau punches into a clinch and they hit the fence. They trade knees while fighting for position, Chiasson with a few punches but Reneau trips her down and gets on top. Chiasson has full guard locked up. Reneau looks to pass, Chiasson forces her way up to her feet and they resume trading in the pocket. Both women find success, then Chiasson with a trip and lands on top in the guard of Reneau. Reneau is trying to get her guard in play. They trade on the mat, Chiasson lands an elbow then body shots as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Chiasson, 29-28 Chiasson overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Macy Chiasson via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Gritty win for Chiasson, she’ll get an interview. She feels really good and is glad she could show off her composure and development after a bout a year away. She talks about working on her shot selection and overall persistence. Asked what she’d like next she says she’s just having fun and while there’s some names she’d be interested in she isn’t focusing on that.

That’s it for the prelims, we’ll be on ESPN2 while the NCAA wrestling tournament wraps up then on ESPN for the main card.

Tai Tuivasa just broke a three fight losing streak when he was matched up with the very washed up Stefan Struve, now he’s trying to regain some hype and possibly mount another run towards ranked opposition. Harry Hunsucker took this fight on less than a weeks notice but is coming off of a win and could score the biggest win of his career if he can best the more proven Tuivasa. Unsurprisingly the odds are with the Tuivasa at -440 while a Hunsucker win would payout at +340.

Heavyweight Bout: Harry Hunsucker (7-3, 249 lbs.) vs. Tai Tuivasa (10-3, 264.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: These two have identical heights and reaches, the biggest difference is weight where Tuivasa is 15 pounds or so heavier. They touch gloves to get things going. Leg kick from Tuivasa. Both men working leg kicks, then a blitz of punches from Hunsucker. Tuivasa lands another leg kick, they trade punches and Tuivasa drops Hunsucker. Hunsucker just covers up and Tuivasa unloads from above him to get the stoppage.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Tai Tuivasa via TKO, punches, at :49 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Tuivasa for his work this evening. Mic time for Tuivasa who dedicates the win to a cousin who recently passed away. He talks us through the finish and puts over his new training team then thanks his opponent for taking the fight on 4 days notice. Asked what’s next he says he plans on celebrating with his son soon unless the UFC comes to him in the next handful of days about something.

The inside leg kick breaks the stance of Hunsucker, makes him a little over anxious and Tuivasa is able to crack him from a more composed position. That second right hand doesn’t even land, the force just knocks him over and he’s already compromised.

Adrian Yanez has a five fight winning streak going that includes a head kick knockout in his UFC debut, he’s trying to extend that winning streak and prove himself a prospect of note in a crowded bantamweight division. Gustavo Lopez has gone 1-1 in the UFC but he’s coming off of a win and is trying to earn his first UFC winning streak. The odds are with Yanez at -220 to +180 on Lopez.

Bantamweight Bout: Gustavo Lopez (12-5, 136 lbs.) vs. Adrian Yanez (12-3, 135 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Yanez is two inches taller and has three inches of reach advantage. Lopez is showing stance switches, both men probing with long range strikes. Bit of a left from Lopez. Yanez lands a counter right, then a calf kick. Lopez walks into a right hand, but just eats it. Yanez with another right, he’s got a bit of a bead on that blow. Lopez lands a jab. Both men working jabs, Yanez lands a right as Lopez is coming forward. Lopez lands a jab. Another right from Yanez lands, he’s building combinations now. Lopez lands a left hook. Hard left from Yanez, he’s starting to tee off now. Head kick and a couple of punches from Yanez, he’s got Lopez on the fence and is picking him apart. Lopez circles away off the fence as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Yanez

ROUND TWO: Both men moving as the round begins, Yanez is stalking forward in a very calculated manner. Yanez lands a front kick to the body. Lopez eats a couple of punches coming in, Yanez has him more or less timed now. Yanez with a nice left hook counter, then a right and Lopez is down. Lopez back up looking for a takedown but Yanez avoids it and they start trading punches. Yanez is stalking Lopez down again, lands a front kick to the body. Lopez with a bit of a calf kick. Head kick from Yanez is partially successful. Lopez lands a body kick but eats a couple of counters. Yanez lands a right. Another front kick then left from Yanez closes the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Yanez, 20-18 Yanez overall

ROUND THREE: Yanez resumes stalking forward. Bit of a right from Yanez, then a follow up that lands flush and Lopez crumples to the mat in a heap.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Adrian Yanez via KO, punch, at :27 of Round 3

The Final Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Yanez for his work this evening. Mic time for Yanez, he says he’s out here living his dream and feels he came out unscathed. He makes a plea to fight at the Toyota Center in his hometown of Houston, that would be a dream come true for him and he just wants on that card. He talks us through the finish, puts over Lopez as a dangerous opponent and felt he had to be methodical to avoid the danger. Asked if there’s any name in particular he’d like, he says Nate Maness called him out earlier and he’d like to meet him in Houston.

The timing on this counter is amazing, he draws out a lunge from Lopez with his left but he’s already throwing the right and Lopez runs right into it. Lovely stuff.

Cheyanne Buys brings a four fight winning streak into her UFC debut, and she’ll be trying to capitalize on her only chance to make a good first impression. Montserrat Ruiz is likewise making her promotional debut and trying to announce her arrival with a memorable performance. Buys is your favorite at -330 to +240 for Ruiz.

Strawweight Bout: Cheyanne Buys (5-1, 116 lbs.) vs. Montserrat Conejo (9-1, 115 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Buys is three inches taller and has two inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Conejo. Both women come out swinging, Buys is throwing straighter punches and Ruiz gets a clinch to stifle that. Buys spins Conejo into the fence, Conejo tries a headlock throw and gets it but is nearly giving up her back. Some short punches from Conejo. Buys can’t finish the back take but Conejo can’t get much meaningful offense yet. Conejo keeps sneaking in lefts to the head. Buys looks to come out the back but can’t get a leg around the head. Buys gets one of Conejo’s legs locked down and is working to get her head free. Conejo is doing a good job of maintaining the position. Conejo finally loses the head, Buys spins to the back and gets both hooks in just as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Conejo

ROUND TWO: Both women come out punching, Buys gets the better of it again. They get close and swing but neither lands flush. Buys lands a straight right that Conejo walked onto. Both women unload as they fall into a clinch, Conejo gets Buys on the fence. Buys nearly slips to the back, she does but Conejo holds the head and they wind up chest to chest again. Conejo keeps after that headlock throw, finally gets it but this time Buys gets both hooks in for the moment. Buys loses the hooks and starts trying to get them back in whole Conejo just kind of holds on. The lack of options that Buys has is frankly disturbing, she should be better about fighting out of this spot. Conejo gets an arm in trouble and looks for the scar-hold armlock. Buys gets her legs in play, that forces the armlock to go away and she finally spins free but they wind up clinched again. Conejo gets the headlock takeover again and we’re back in that same spot. This time Buys gets her head free quicker, and starts working from half guard. Full mount now for Buys, she lands a few elbows just before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Conejo but there might be an argument for Buys, 20-18 Conejo overall

ROUND THREE: Buys misses a kick, but lands a right. Conejo is backing up, she might be playing for the clock now. Buys lands a right and avoids a clinch. Body kick from Buys. Both women land in the pocket. Buys lands a right. They trade again, then Buys lands a right. Body kick from Buys, Conejo clearly just running clock. Buys lands again and avoids a clinch. Bit of a right from Buys, then a left hook. Buys punches out of a clinch, but Conejo eventually ties her up and they hit the fence. Another headlock takeover from Conejo and back to the scarf position. Buys hits a sweep, jumps to the ride position and drags things to the mat. Conejo gets the better of a scramble and gets on top in full guard. The last bit of the round will just play out in that spot.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Buys, 29-28 Conejo overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Montserrat Conejo via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28 x2)

I didn’t think Conejo did enough for a 10-8 but it’s not the worst 10-8 I’ve ever seen. Not a terribly interesting fight. Mic time for Conejo, she’s happy to have won and thanks a bunch of her coaches and team mates. She takes enough time doing that to just take up almost all of her interview time. Wait, check that, all of her interview time.

Song Kenan has gone 4-1 in the UFC, he’s on a two fight winning streak and looking to get to three in a row here then set his sights on someone higher up the ranks at welterweight. Max Griffin has gone 4-6 in the UFC but he’s coming off of a win and will be after his first UFC winning streak. While he’s been inconsistent in the UFC the odds are with Griffin at -210 to a tempting value payout of +175 on Song.

Welterweight Bout: Max Griffin (16-8, 170.5 lbs.) vs. Song Kenan (16-5, 171 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Song is an inch taller while Griffin has three and a half inches of reach advantage. Griffin comes out punching, both men start probing each other early. Song lands a stiff jab. They trade jabs again. Griffin digs the body and then punches into a clinch on the fence. Song spins free after a moment and they resume punching at each other. Both men throwing kicks out there, Song doing some stance switching. Bit of a right from Song, then a front kick to the body. Song’s been working that front kick. Griffin lands a right, Song backs into the fence then Griffin lands another right that knocks him out cold.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Max Griffin via KO, punch, at 2:20 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Griffin for his work this evening. Mic time for Griffin, he feels great in the wake of his win and says he had a lot of fun out there. He talks us through the finish, then when asked who he’d like next he says he’d like to fight Geoff Neal on the Houston card.

First Griffin times a lovely straight right as Song was throwing a low kick to knock him backwards, then along the fence he unloads a nice one two to put Song face down and out.

Derek Brunson is on a three fight winning streak and hoping to finally showoff the consistency that he’s been lacking to this point in his UFC time. Brunson could earn a shot at someone near the top of the division if he’s able to get to four in a row tonight at the expense of Holland. Kevin Holland had about as good a 2020 as anyone in the UFC professionally, he’s riding a five fight winning streak with four of those being stoppages and his most recent one being an impressive knockout win over Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Holland could likewise take aim at the top of the division if he’s able to get a win over the rugged and respected Brunson. The odds are close but lean toward Holland at -190 against +160 for Brunson.

Middleweight Bout: #7 Derek Brunson (21-7, 186 lbs.) vs. #10 Kevin Holland (21-5, 183 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Holland is two inches taller and has four inches of reach advantage, he’s also 9 years younger. Southpaw for Brunson. Both men probing early, Holland lands a front kick to the face and both men miss power hand punches. Holland slips on a kick, Brunson clobbers him with a right and gets on top of him in full guard. Body triangle now for Holland. A few elbows from the back for Holland, Brunson lands a few body to head punches. Elbow from Brunson. Holland keeps getting his legs in play, enough to keep Brunson from passing or being able to posture up too much. Bit of an elbow from Brunson. Hard elbow from Brunson. Holland spins back up to his feet just as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Brunson

ROUND TWO: Holland misses a right to get the round going. Brunson is feinting forward, they wind up clinched in space trading knees then break. Holland lands a right, then another one. Both men land power hand punches but Brunson is the one who falls down. Brunson fights up looking for a single leg and they wind up clinched on the fence. Brunson gets a body lock takedown into half guard, then quickly passes to full mount. Holland gives up the back, then rolls through under and Brunson spins around to get on top in half guard. Brunson is after an arm triangle choke, he passes towards the other side and is looking to lock it down. Full side control on the dangerous side from Brunson, Holland is trying to defend but Brunson isn’t using his legs to generate pressure yet. There’s an adjustment from Brunson but Holland flips free and is back up at distance. Holland misses an uppercut and Brunson gets a takedown into full guard. They’ll just kind of ride out the last 40 seconds in that spot.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Brunson, 20-18 Brunson overall

ROUND THREE: Holland lands a straight right. Both men are getting a little flat. Another right from Holland, Brunson gets around behind him and gets a mat return. Holland gets full guard, starts looking for an armbar but doesn’t have the arm gripped. Brunson stands over him, tries to pass but winds up in the full guard again. Brunson’s activity level has dropped off, he’s working a few body to head punches but he’s barely doing enough to avoid the ref standing things up. Holland gets the body triangle again, he’s working some elbows from his back. I think Holland is technically out striking Brunson from his back. Bit of an elbow from Brunson. I’m surprised the ref hasn’t stood this up yet. Brunson lands an elbow. The round comes to an end in that spot.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Brunson, 30-27 Brunson overall

ROUND FOUR: Holland working kicks as the round starts. Bit of a right from Holland, then they clash on kicks. A few more rights from Holland land, then he’s able to avoid a clinch. Brunson avoids an uppercut but can’t get a takedown. Both men land punches, Brunson gets a clinch and is after a takedown, he gets it as Holland misses a kimura roll attempt. Brunson lands in side control, Holland wall walks but gets tripped down into full guard again. Some body to head punches from Brunson, but again we’re just kind of hanging out here. Brunson tries to keep busy enough to keep the ref out of this, Holland kicks off the fence and fights up but is still clinched. Holland can’t get free before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Brunson, 40-36 Brunson overall

ROUND FIVE: Both men circling as the round starts. Holland misses a front kick to the face. Bit of a jab from Holland. They trade power hand punches. Glancing let hook from Holland, Brunson forces a clinch in space. There’s a cut on Brunson’s right eyebrow I think. They trade in the clinch a bit then Holland gets an inside trip takedown into full guard. Holland is irrationally happy about this. Brunson has his guard closed up and is looking to ride out the round. Holland digs body shots, postures up and slams Brunson but can’t get past the guard. More body shots from Holland then one to the head and he stands free. Brunson shoots a double leg, they hit the fence and he’s able to get it into full guard again. Holland fights up eventually, but wont get anything else done before the clock runs down.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Holland, 49-46 Holland overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Derek Brunson via unanimous decision (49-45, 49-46 x2)

Not sure which round was 10-8, but that was a boring enough fight for me not to care too much. Brunson gets an interview, he gives glory to God first and foremost and says he wants to be a role model going forward. He says he wanted the knockout, but every win can’t be pretty and he feels he should get a top five guy next with his current win streak. Asked for a name, he says maybe Paulo Costa since Costa had a fight fall through recently. He says he wasn’t too hurt during the fight but did get hit.

That will wrap up UFC on ESPN 21. Thanks for reading, be that live or after the fact. Next week the UFC is back on PPV for UFC 260 when the heavyweight title will be up for grabs. We’ll unpack all of this action tomorrow on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast, plus preview UFC 260, and look at the news of the week including several title fights being booked. I’ll be back next week for UFC 260, hope to see you there. Until then thanks again for reading, stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

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UFC Fight Night, Robert Winfree