The Real Winners and Losers from UFC Fight Night 206
Hey, didn't she used to be Holly Holm?
That may have been a knee-jerk reaction when fans saw the scheduled main event for Saturday's Fight Night show at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, and it was indeed the former bantamweight champion making her first octagonal appearance in 19 months against fifth-ranked contender Ketlen Vieira.
Now 40 years old, Holm hadn't appeared since beating Raquel Pennington and Irene Aldana across 10 months in 2020. Those wins followed a stretch of five losses in seven fights since her paradigm-shifting finish of then-champ Ronda Rousey at UFC 193 way back in November 2015.
Nevertheless, she arrived to the desert as the company's second-ranked contender at 135 pounds and topped an 11-bout card that was short on high-profile names but long on finishes. In fact, five of six bouts on the preliminary portion ended before the final horn, as did one of five on the main show.
Jon Anik, Daniel Cormier and Paul Felder had the call from the announce table for the ESPN broadcast while Laura Sanko worked the rest of the room for breaking news and feature pieces and Din Thomas chimed in intermittently with technical analysis.
The B/R combat sports team was also in position to compile its definitive list of winners and losers and we invite you to scroll through to get our thoughts and to leave a viewpoint or two of your own in the comments section.
Loser: Respecting a Legend
Holm expected better.
And it seemed everyone other than her opponent agreed.
Nevertheless, the former three-division boxing champion and aforementioned conqueror of Rousey in one of the sport's most historic fights was on the short end of a questionable split decision on Saturday.
Two judges gave Vieira 48-47 nods to ensure the victory even after the Brazilian's lead trainer berated his fighter prior to the fifth round and suggested she'd lost three of the first four.
A third judge gave it to Holm by the same 48-47 margin.
B/R's card had it 49-46, or 4-1 in rounds for Holm.
"I thought I won the fight. I gave her Round 2. I thought I won the rest of the rounds," she said. "I didn’t think it was a question."
Statistics backed her up.
Holm landed 188 strikes to Vieira's 122 and had better than 10 minutes of clinch control time, compared to Vieira's 1-0 edge in takedowns and 84 seconds of control time. Holm had striking edges in four of the five rounds and had more control time in all five.
"I wanted to be more active in the clinches but I was still able to control her and get some strikes off," Holm said. "I feel like I won the fight so I've got to figure out what's going to happen now. One step forward and one step back is usually how it goes."
It was the ex-champ's sixth loss in 13 UFC fights since her debut in 2015. She's 1-4 in championship bouts and now 6-2 in non-title fights.
For Vieira, it was her seventh win in nine fights with the promotion, tying her for third-most at 135 pounds.
"I came to knock her down, she came to stall," Vieira said. "I'm the next champ in the bantamweight division. The next champ is right here."
Winner: Staking a Claim
There'd always been a reason to doubt Michel Pereira.
The Brazilian welterweight was an entertainer too focused on in-cage theatrics and a fighter too often bedeviled by a tendency to tire in late rounds to mount a serious run at championship contention.
But the times, they may be a changing.
Buoyed by a renewed dedication to the sport and boosted by an increased emphasis on conditioning, Pereira successfully faced down the challenge of a ranked contender when he topped No. 14 Santiago Ponzinibbio by split decision in a thoroughly entertaining scrap in the co-main event position.
The win was his fifth in a row at 170 pounds, tying his streak with two others as the second-longest active run in the division behind only champion Kamaru Usman's 15 straight.
It came by scores of 30-27 and 29-28 on two cards, while the third was 29-28 for Ponzinibbio. The beaten fighter clearly didn't agree with the result and immediately left the cage without congratulating his opponent.
"The game is evolving everyday with this guy," Cormier said of Pereira. "Two years ago he would have never gotten through that. He would have folded."
Instead, Pereira was successful in the opening round with lateral movement interspersed with sharp striking, before biting down on the mouthpiece and enduring return punishment that left him bloodied while frequently tagging a similarly damaged Ponzinibbio with long kicks to the head and body.
And afterward, the winner was calling for big names.
"Now, I need to enter the top 15," he said. "Hey Nate (Diaz). Hey Jorge Masvidal. Pay attention to me."
Loser: Avoiding the Ache
Think you have a headache?
Chances are it's nothing compared to what Dusko Todorovic is experiencing right now.
The Serbian-based middleweight grappling specialist is quite likely enduring a spectacular show of stars and flashes before his eyes as he recovers from the concussive blow sent his way by Chidi Njokuani in their scheduled three-rounder in the middle fight of the five-bout main card.
Todorovic had landed nine strikes and scored a pair of takedowns in the initial four-plus minutes and was in close trying to tie his man up yet again when Njokuani leaned back to create space and plowed a hard right elbow into his left temple and rendered him as horizontal as a felled tree.
The stricken fighter was semi-conscious and obviously vulnerable, prompting referee Mark Smith to call an immediate halt to the action before Njokuani had even attempted to add to his work.
"Hell yeah, I knew what I was capable of doing from the jump," Njokuani said to Cormier after the ex-champ asked if things had gone as he'd expected.
"We worked on that day in and day out. Just break off and throw some strikes from there."
As for future plans, he was equally precise.
"Anybody can get it," he said. "Ya feel me?"
Winner: Making 'Ugly' Beautiful
The "Ugly Man" nickname may not be your cup of tea.
But if you're into the sort of brutal highlights that MMA can provide, Joseph Holmes is your man.
The lanky middleweight got to business quickly in his second UFC outing, landing a particularly watch-worthy knee to the jaw of Alen Amedovski and rendering his Macedonian foe helpless to a follow-up barrage that ended in the rear-naked choke that stopped the bout after just 64 seconds.
Amendovski had landed one of eight strike attempts as he plodded aggressively forward in the first minute and into range as Holmes leapt forward and crashed his right knee into the left side of his face.
The shot dumped the 34-year-old to the floor and he'd just managed to get dizzily back to his knees and nearly to his feet before Holmes cinched in the left-arm choke that prompted the decisive tap.
"The knee that landed was a huge part of my game plan. I was a little surprised that it didn't finish him and I still had to jump on him, but that's OK," Holmes said. "I'm supposed to be here. I'm ready to start my rise to the top. I'm here to fight."
Winner: Adulting Advancement
In UFC terms, Chase Hooper was a teenage "Dream."
He was an 18-year-old victor in season two of Dana White's Contender Series four years ago, then won his official debut with the promotion by a first-round finish 17 months later.
Since then, though, he's found adulting to be, well... challenging.
The Washington-born featherweight was beaten on the scorecards in two of his subsequent three fights following the glittering debut and arrived Saturday night in desperate need of a momentum changer.
He got it.
Hooper consistently took the fight to the mat and ultimately saw the strategy pay off after his fourth takedown of the match led to a rear-naked choke try and a subsequent volley of strikes that forced the hand of referee Smith exactly three minutes into the third round.
It was the first stoppage loss for Colares in 14 career fights.
"It's been a long past 11 months (since my last fight, a loss) so it's nice to get that confidence built back up," Hooper said. "I feel like I got a lot of rounding to my skill set and obviously the cardio, and that showed."
UFC Fight Night 207 Full Card Results
Ketlen Vieira def. Holly Holm by split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47)
Michel Pereira def. Santiago Ponzinibbio by split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
Chidi Njokuani def. Dusko Todorovic by KO (elbow), 4:48, Round 1
Tabatha Ricci def. Polyana Viana by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Junyong Park def. Eryk Anders by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Joseph Holmes def. Alen Amedovski by submission (rear-naked choke), 1:04, Round 1
Jailton Almeida def. Parker Porter by submission (rear-naked choke), 4:35, Round 1
Uros Medic def. Omar Morales by KO (punch), 3:05, Round 2
Jonathan Martinez def. Vince Morales by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Chase Hooper def. Felipe Colares by KO (punches), 3:00, Round 3
Sam Hughes def. Elise Reed by KO (elbows), 3:52, Round 3