There was something in the air during UFC on ESPN 37, as the fans were treated to an exquisite display of violence at the Moody Center in Austin Texas. The stacked Fight Night's athletes were fierce and blood-thirsty from the opening bout through to the high-stakes Featherweight Main Event that was Emmett vs Kattar. To say that the card delivered in entertainment value would be an understatement.
It was a clash of violent finishers when number 7 ranked Featherweight Josh Emmett secured the highest-profile win of his career to date against the battle-tested Calvin Kattar. The two fighters seemed to agree that they were going to have what largely looked like a boxing contest inside of the UFC octagon. Kattar looked to want to keep the fight at the end range of his jab and cross, while Emmett looked for opportune times to blitz in with hooks to the head and body. Although Emmett seemed to be landing the more authoritative shots, it was Kattar who was marking up the face of Josh early. The tide changed throughout the bout though and by the end of the fight, both of the athlete's faces were bloody and bruised. The contest was incredibly competitive with most of the fans being in agreement on rounds 3, 4, and 5, however, rounds 1 and 2 were fairly split. Despite Emmett being awarded the judge's decision, The Verdict Community had Kattar winning rounds 2, 4, and 5 as well as the Final Score of 48.04 to Emmett's 47.06.
Kevin Holland had no issues taking out the veteran southpaw Tim Means. "Trailblazer" had as close to a flawless performance as you could ask for as he kept "The Dirty Bird" at the end of his patented 1-2 combo. Means seemed to be having trouble early dealing with the range of Holland and was forced to counter-box for large portions of the first round. As that strategy became a clear detriment, Means decided to try and mix in some wrestling to take Holland out of his element. Unlike a few previous performances at Middleweight, Holland showcased some much-improved takedown defense and fight IQ in the grappling department as Means was not able to get off anything meaningfully offensive on the Texan. Eventually, Holland found his mark and sat Means down with a well-placed right hand. From there, Holland sunk in a deep D'Arce choke and forced Means to tap early into the 2nd round.
Joaquin got to work quickly in his bout against Albert Duraev. From the opening bell, Buckley was looking to hurt Duraev as he blitzed in multiple times with looping hooks and head kicks. Many of the shots that "New Mansa" threw were absorbed only by air, however, the ones that did land made a significant impact. By the 2nd round, Duraev had already been wobbled several times and had noticeable swelling around his left eye. When the bell rang to signify the end of round 2, Duraev looked physically and mentally defeated. Mercifully, the contest was stopped between rounds, and Joaquin Buckley was announced the winner via TKO.
In what was arguably the most competitive fight of the night, Damir Ismagulov showed off why he is such a hot prospect right now. Both fighters came out in the orthodox stance looking to make reads on their opponent and feint their way into landing something significant. Most of the grappling exchanges were neutralized by the other man and the fight was to be decided on the feet. Ismagulov made sure to utilize his jab to disrupt the rhythm and mark up the face of Kutateladze. Guram showcased his highly regarded Muay Thai skills by throwing a variety of combos that typically ended with a low kick. All in all, both fighters made strong accounts of themselves despite their having to be a winner and a loser. The biggest talking points of the fight will likely be the grounded knee that Kutateladze appeared to land on the chin of Ismagulov late in the 3rd round that caused a halt in the action, as well as the bizarre 28-28 scorecard that was tallied incorrectly.
It was a tough day at the office for Julian Marquez. "RoboCop" must have felt like he had led in his gloves, as every shot he landed seemed to hurt Marquez. The fight was wild from the word go, with Rodrigues throwing hands with bad intent and "The Cuban Missle Crisis" fighting to survive. Despite attempting to fire back, Marquez ultimately gave way to a vicious right hand that put his lights out at 3 minutes and 18 seconds into the first round.
Defensive awareness and in fight decision-making skills are invaluable traits to have at the elite levels of Mixed Martial Arts and it appears that Adrian Yanez has those exact attributes in spades. Tony Kelley was doing well early by using a diverse attack of kicks, primarily teeps to the body and a variety of low kicks, but once Yanez opened up it was over quick. Yanez stayed calm under fire by moving thoughtfully with his opponent, blocking effectively, parrying when appropriate, and most importantly, making reads. Once he had cracked the code of how to deal with the attacks of Kelley, Yanez began to parry and counter with hooks around the guard of Kelley until eventually he was rewarded with a TKO finish 3 minutes and 49 seconds into the very first round. This marks a 9-fight win streak for the 28-year-old Bantamweight and a 6-fight win streak under the UFC affiliation.