Middleweight Kevin Holland lived up to his promise to fight differently on Saturday than he did in a one-sided loss to Derek Brunson three weeks ago.
While he mostly lived up to that, the results were largely the same.
Marvin Vettori took Holland down repeatedly and held the talented striker on the mat for long stretches on his way to a unanimous-decision victory in the main event of the UFC on ABC 2 card at the Apex.
“I expect perfection,” Vettori said after winning 50-44 on all three scorecards. “I expect to go out and break a guy. I fell a little short, but that short is still a very dominant performance.”
Holland, known for his showmanship and constant talking during his fights, toned it down on Saturday just three weeks after drawing criticism for continuing those antics as Derek Brunson took him down over and over to end Holland’s five-fight winning streak.
Vettori borrowed from Brunson’s game plan and kept Holland from unleashing much offense. He also didn’t hear much talking.
“He definitely had a sense of urgency that he didn’t have in the Brunson fight,” Vettori said. “He wasn’t (expletive) around much.”
Vettori set a UFC middleweight record with 11 takedowns, equaling the total number he had recorded in his nine previous appearances in the organization.
Holland accepted the fight on nine days’ notice as a replacement for the injured Darren Till in hopes of getting back on track after the loss to Brunson. Instead, he’s left to ponder back-to-back losses after his winning streak had put him in the top 10.
Also on the card, multiple-time jiu-jitsu world champion Mackenzie Dern staked her claim as a top contender in the women’s strawweight division with one of the best performances of her MMA career in a first-round submission victory over Nina Nunes.
Dern came out swinging and showed improvement as a striker. She landed a few right hands, though the true motivation for the style appeared to be setting up a takedown to get the fight more to her comfort zone.
Once on the mat, it was just a matter of time before she locked in a submission. The end came at 4:48 of the first round by armbar.
“My goal was to get a first-round submission,” she said. “Getting it just proves that everything is going well and I’m able to do everything I’ve been doing in training.”
It was the fourth straight win for Dern since suffering the lone loss of her career. Nunes, the wife of two-division champion Amanda Nunes, was fighting for the first time since giving birth to a daughter in September.
Welterweight Daniel Rodriguez pieced up Mike Perry in striking exchanges, controlling the cage with his jab and breaking Perry’s nose en route to a unanimous-decision victory.