Holly Holm is back.
That's the main takeaway from UFC Fight Night 111, as the former UFC women's bantamweight champion ended a three-fight skid with a highlight-reel third-round knockout of Brazilian contender Bethe Correia in the main event from Kallang, Singapore.
The main event started off at a snail's pace. Holm, the consummate counterstriker, lurked just outside of striking distance, while a tentative Bethe Correia patiently waited for the former champion to attack first.
The result was a first round that had almost no action.
Gorgeous George of MMAjunkie said what basically anyone who got up early to watch the fight on UFC Fight Pass was thinking:
Gorgeous George @MMAjunkieGeorge
I've been up since 5am, ladies. Throw a punch! #UFCSingapore2017-6-17 13:57:31
Brett Okamoto of ESPN put the dreadful round in perspective:
Brett Okamoto @bokamotoESPN
Holm and Correia combine for nine total strikes landed first round.2017-6-17 14:00:54
The second round was largely more of the same, as Correia continued to swing at air and Holm threw nary an aggressive strike. Referee Marc Goddard pleaded with both fighters to make something happen, per Damon Martin of Fox Sports:
Damon Martin @DamonMartin
Marc Goddard just admonished the fighters: "I respect the game plan but you have to make something happen" #UFCSingapore2017-6-17 14:05:31
In the third round, Holm listened.
With Correia doing her best Diaz brother impression and waving Holm in, the former champion unleashed a hellish high kick that put the Brazilian down, and she finished with a massive left hand for good measure.
Brian Hemminger of the At Odds Podcast broke down the impressive kick:
Brian Hemminger @BrianHemminger
Gorgeous question mark kick from Holly Holm. The shin pivoted around her knee, looked like a body kick and blasted Correia in the head2017-6-17 14:10:33
Despite the two lackluster rounds, Holm's finish called to mind her most memorable performance against Ronda Rousey—a stunning head kick brought that fight to an end. After losing three consecutive bouts, Holm seemed to declare that she is still a dangerous striker.
In typical fashion, The Preacher's Daughter didn't call out someone after her victory, but she did express just how happy she was to be back in the win column, via the UFC on Twitter.
"I'm going to enjoy victory, I'm going to enjoy this night" -@HollyHolm back in the win column https://t.co/T3KlVBhiv72017-6-17 14:14:00
Holm's fight wasn't the only action to take place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Saturday morning. The card was filled with explosive finishes in the prelims, a legend on his way out and another former champion seeking some redemption.
Here's a quick peek at all the results and a closer look at the main card fights.
UFC Fight Night 111 Results
- Holly Holm def. Bethe Correia via KO
- Marcin Tybura def. Andrei Arlovski by unanimous decision (29-28, 28-27, 29-27)
- Colby Covington def. Dong Hyun Kim by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-26, 30-27)
- Rafael Dos Anjos def. Tarec Saffiedine by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Jon Tuck def. Takanori Gomi via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:12 of the first round
- Walt Harris def. Cyril Asker by TKO at 1:44 of the first round
- Alex Caceres def. Rolando Dy by TKO at 5:00 of the second round
- Ulka Sasaki def. Justin Scoggins via submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:19 of the second round
- Li Jingliang def. Frank Camacho by unanimous decision (29-27, 28-27, 29-27)
- Russell Doane def. Kwan Ho Kwak by TKO at 4:09 of the first round
- Naoki Inoue def. Carls John de Tomas by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
- Lucie Pudilova def. Ji Yeon Kim by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Andrei Arlovski vs. Marcin Tybura
Marcin Tybura did his best to make his case to move into the top 10 of the heavyweight division with a unanimous-decision win over Andrei Arlovski. But he didn't make it easy on himself.
In the early going, it appeared Tybura would cruise to victory. After Arlovski landed a flashy spinning kick, the Polish fighter caught the next, and the ensuing takedown set up the majority of the round as Tybura's own ground-and-pound practice.
The Pit Bull wasn't done, though. Trying to get back on track after a four-fight losing streak, Arlovski came up swinging, via the UFC:
WHAT A FIRST ROUND! @AndreiArlovski gets up from the canvas and starts landing some huge shots. #UFCSingapore https://t.co/caJuuAvRt62017-6-17 13:26:48
He rode the momentum of that late-round flurry to a second-round victory. The Pit Bull controlled Tybura along the fence and appeared headed toward a comeback win.
However, Tybura showed he has some heart to go with a well-rounded skill set. After dropping the second round and looking exhausted, the 31-year-old went back to controlling Arlovski on the ground to score the decision victory.
The loss took Arlovski's losing streak to five fights, which might just be a death knell for his UFC run. Iain Kidd of SB Nation's Bloody Elbow pondered what the next step for the Pit Bull might be:
Iain Kidd @iainkidd
Andrei might consider going to Rizin. Less restrictions on... injury & training recovery aids, which can help older guys. #UFCSingapore2017-6-17 13:42:00
It wasn't the most entertaining fight by the third round, but it did provide some twists and turns while giving the division's top 10 a new face.
Colby Covington vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Colby Covington successfully dispatched UFC veteran Dong Hyun Kim in welterweight action.
The 29-year-old soundly controlled the bout with a combination of clinch and wrestling skills that allowed him to impose his will and earn the nod on the scorecards. He didn't put Kim to sleep, but he came close to putting anyone who got up for the 8 a.m. ET card back to bed.
While he certainly controlled the fight, exchanges like this one the UFC posted were few and far between:
Devastating combo by @ColbyCovMMA, stumbles Kim! #UFCSingapore https://t.co/2tQzXuUFXT2017-6-17 13:03:03
It wasn't the most entertaining encounter, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it was impressive for Covington. The wrestler was able to control one of the better judoka's in the organization with a swarming pressure game.
He might not have earned any fans after grinding out a win like that, but he did prove he's a formidable opponent ready for even bigger competition. As Mike Bohn of MMAjunkie noted, only a high-quality group of fighters have beaten Kim:
Mike Bohn @MikeBohnMMA
Colby Covington joins Woodley, Maia & Condit as only fighters to beat Dong Hyun Kim. First to top him by decision. Impressive. #UFCSingapore2017-6-17 13:09:50
Tarec Saffiedine vs. Rafael Dos Anjos
Rafael Dos Anjos—like Holly Holm—came into his bout with Tarec Saffiedine as a former champion in desperate need of a win, as he was in danger of going on a three-fight losing streak.
The Brazilian was able to successfully avoid that fate with a unanimous-decision victory in his welterweight debut.
The 170-pound RDA looked a whole lot like the lightweight version. He was able to take three rounds on two of the judge's scorecards because of his sweltering pressure game that included several clinch knees and vicious hooks to the body.
Unofficial stats from The MMA Report's Jason Floyd painted the picture of a fighter who won the bout with just a little more volume than his opponent:
Jason Floyd @Jason_Floyd
Unofficial Fight Stats: Total Strikes - Saffiedine (58/141 41%), Dos Anjos (95/184 52%). Takedowns - Saffiedine (1/1), Dos Anjos (0/2)2017-6-17 12:35:29
The loss is a big blow to Saffiedine's hopes of remaining on the UFC roster. He has now lost three fights in a row and goes to 1-4 in his last five fights with the organization.
As for Dos Anjos, the former lightweight champion sounded like he plans on sticking around at his new weight, per Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting:
Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani
"It's just the beginning, guys. I will do a lot in this division," RDA said after winning his UFC welterweight debut via unanimous decision.2017-6-17 12:39:22
A win over Saffiedine isn't going to launch him into contendership, but it is enough to set up some more intriguing fights in the welterweight division going forward.