The main event may not have delivered in the way that fans might’ve hoped, but UFC Fight Night: Thiago Santos vs. Johnny Walker was still a largely watchable show.
With plenty of nasty finishes up and down the card, this UFC Fight Night had numerous highlight-reel moments, with four fighters winning $50k bonuses.
Headliners Johnny Walker and Thiago Santos weren’t among them as their fight unexpectedly went the distance. Still, thankfully the event already had enough violence to ensure the fans weren’t left wanting more.
So with several different fights to choose from, here are the five most explosive moments from UFC Fight Night: Thiago Santos vs. Johnny Walker.
#5. Kyle Daukaus turns Kevin Holland’s lights out in unfortunate fashion in a UFC first
One of last night’s most explosive moments came in the event’s co-headliner between Kevin Holland and Kyle Daukaus. Unfortunately, the moment led to a UFC first that ensured that neither man came away with a victory.
Midway through the first round, the two middleweights came together in the center of the octagon, and something appeared to connect that knocked Holland silly.
‘Trailblazer’ collapsed face-first, and although referee Dan Miragliotta allowed the fight to continue, moments later, Daukaus snaked onto his back and applied a rear-naked choke to force him to tap out.
However, when replays of the knockdown were played, it immediately became clear that it wasn’t a punch that’d landed – it was a brutal clash of heads that clearly knocked Holland unconscious for a moment.
After a lengthy consultation with Herb Dean – who was manning the instant replay booth cage-side – Miragliotta was able to watch the clip and conclude that the fight should be declared a No Contest.
This was a first for the UFC in terms of an instant replay deciding a fight. It was an excellent example of technology being used to positive effect in sports.
Holland and Daukaus will likely face off in a rematch at some point down the line – but for now, this was an explosive moment both men will want to forget.
#4. Casey O’Neill batters Antonina Shevchenko to show she’s a contender for the UFC flyweight title
Last night, however, she was well beaten by Casey O’Neill, who put together a violent and explosive finish that should propel her right into UFC title contention. Unbeaten at 2-0 in the UFC and 8-0 overall, O’Neill looked like a high-level prospect coming into last night’s event, but the Scottish-born Australian fighter had never truly been tested.
That changed here, as Shevchenko caught her in a bad position early on – a mounted crucifix – and nearly finished her in the first round. ‘King Casey’ escaped, though, and from there, she turned the tables pretty quickly.
By midway through the second round, it was clear who was the better fighter, particularly on the ground. When O’Neill took a full mount, Shevchenko was immediately in trouble.
Sure enough, ‘King Casey’ began to punish her with a series of relentless, brutal elbows and punches. Eventually, ‘El Pantera’ turned to her side, forcing referee Chris Tognoni to step in.
This was a phenomenal showing from O’Neill, and the brutal finish – her third in a row in the UFC – should put her well on the radar of the champion.
#3. Jamie Mullarkey takes out Devonte Smith with a brutal flurry
Jamie Mullarkey’s fight with Devonte Smith was arguably the best on offer last night. The native of Australia came out on top in the back-and-forth bout. He did it in explosive fashion, too.
The first round was almost all Smith’s. He took the fight to Mullarkey with his heavy striking style. He pressured the Aussie backward, hurt him with a one-two and landed some heavy leg kicks as well.
Despite taking plenty of damage, though, Mullarkey did enough to survive and was never really on the verge of going out. In the second round, he turned the tables on ‘King Kage’ big time.
With the two lightweights happy to continue to strike, Mullarkey grabbed a plum clinch to drive Smith into the fence. From there, he opened up with some hard knees and elbows. He then smashed ‘King Kage’ with a left hand to the body.
That left Smith hurt, and Mullarkey wasted no time in following up with a wild and brutal flurry that eventually forced him to wilt.
This was an excellent and violent finish from Mullarkey, who earned an extra $50k for his efforts.
#2. Alexander Hernandez blitzes Mike Breeden to get back on track
After struggling for traction over the last couple of years, Alexander Hernandez was handed a shot at really getting his UFC career back on track last night. Initially pegged to face Leonardo Santos, he was instead met with newcomer Mike Breeden, who took the fight on just five days’ notice.
‘Alexander the Great’ capitalized on his opportunity with aplomb, absolutely blitzing Breeden in the first round to pick up the third knockout win of his UFC career.
It was the kind of one-sided win that made you question quite how the UFC decided Breeden would be a fair opponent for Hernandez. The UFC newcomer had a solid record of 10-3 but looked miles out of his depth in the opening seconds and found himself in trouble instantly.
An elbow appeared to wobble him in the early going, and from there, Hernandez simply didn’t let up. He opened up with a brutal flurry that knocked Breeden’s mouthpiece out and eventually caused the debutant to crash to the ground, ending the fight after just 1:20.
Quite how much we can take from this win is unknown due to Breeden’s status as UFC debutant. Still, it was nice to see Hernandez produce something close to his best form for the first time in a while.
#1. Douglas Silva de Andrade produces the best finish of his UFC career
A few years ago, it looked like Douglas Silva de Andrade would be a fighter to watch at 135lbs. The Brazilian blitzed the likes of Henry Briones and Marlon Vera before running into Petr Yan. Unsurprisingly, he was derailed by the Russian.
A move to 145lbs and a win over former UFC champion Renan Barao appeared to put him back on track – but he then missed the entirety of 2020 and didn’t look himself in a loss this January to Lerone Murphy.
Faced with Gaetano Pirrello last night, though, ‘D’Silva’ pulled out not just the best finish of his UFC career but also one of the most explosive of 2021.
After an opening sequence that saw both men land strikes, Pirrello attempted to throw a low kick – and ate a huge counter left from ‘D’Silva,’ sending him crashing to the ground.
A couple of follow-up shots landed for the Brazilian, but they were largely pointless as it was clear that this fight was over.
Whether Silva de Andrade can now get back to climbing the ladder in the UFC is a question mark, but this was a truly incredible finish from him that may well go viral. To top it all off, the Brazilian is also $50k richer today after earning one of the UFC’s bonuses.