With a total of six knockouts on the 10-fight card, this was actually one of the better UFC shows we’ve been treated to in 2021.
With that in mind, here are the five most explosive moments from UFC Vegas 22: Derek Brunson vs. Kevin Holland.
#1 Griffin destroys Song with a brutal knockout
Quite comfortably, the most brutal knockout on offer last night came in the co-main event.
Max Griffin saw his fight with Song Kenan moved into the spot on late notice when Gregor Gillespie’s fight with Brad Riddell was canceled, and Max Pain capitalized on the opportunity.
Griffin began to back Song up with his strikes after a short feeling-out process, namely a nasty low kick.
And when he loaded up with a right hand that hurt the Chinese fighter, forcing him backward, he wasted no time.
Max Pain followed up with an absolutely brutal one-two that appeared to almost launch Song into the fence. Song went down face-first, and Griffin followed with a pretty needless blow to seal the deal.
That last punch was largely unnecessary, but this was a great win for Griffin, who has now won his last two UFC fights by KO. The post-fight interview saw him call out another explosive striker in Geoff Neal. And based on this showing, the UFC will be tempted to book it.
#2 Tuivasa welcomes Hunsucker to the UFC with a bang
When Don’Tale Mayes dropped out of his fight with Tai Tuivasa, the UFC sourced a replacement in the form of newcomer Harry Hunsucker.
The debutant took the fight on less than a week’s notice and decided to waste no time by taking the fight to Bam Bam. However, that turned out to be an error.
Tuivasa hurt Hunsucker early with some thunderous leg kicks, and when the debutant decided to brawl, Bam Bam was more than happy to oblige.
A brutal right hand to the temple dropped Hunsucker, and while he tried desperately to survive, Tuivasa was all over him, and the fight was stopped shortly after.
Tuivasa remains a somewhat limited fighter – his ground game is still a major question mark, and he had to cut weight to make the 265lbs limit for this fight.
However, there are few better brawlers in the UFC’s Heavyweight division right now, and the big Aussie proved that again with this KO.
#3 Yanez proves he’s a prospect to watch
Adrian Yanez brought quite a lot of hype with him into last night’s clash with Gustavo Lopez. The Bantamweight prospect had debuted in the UFC with a wonderful head kick KO last October, and he followed that with another excellent win last night.
Lopez looked like he was out of his depth from the beginning of this fight, basically. Despite winning his last UFC outing against Anthony Birchak, he just couldn’t get anything going here.
Yanez’s crisp boxing never allowed him out of first gear, and Lopez was hurt on numerous occasions as Yanez walked him down with strikes.
In the third round, Lopez looked a little more desperate. But before he could uncork any offense, Yanez landed a perfect right-hand counter to his jaw and sent him crashing down.
He didn’t even need to follow the shot up as Lopez was clearly done.
The win moves Yanez to 2-0 in the UFC and 13-3 overall, and he’s clearly a man to watch in the UFC’s Bantamweight division. This was just more evidence of that.
#4 Dawson uncorks a classic KO
Grant Dawson came into his fight with Leonardo Santos last night largely as an underdog.
KGD had put together an impressive four-fight win streak in his UFC tenure. But he lacked experience compared to Brazilian veteran Santos, who hadn’t lost a fight in the UFC since his 2013 debut. However, that turned out not to mean a lot.
A back-and-forth fight saw both men have success, but in the third round, it was clear that Santos was beginning to tire.
And so when Dawson got on top and applied an arm-triangle choke, it looked like he could be on the verge of a surprising submission win over a decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt.
Santos survived that, only for Dawson to unload with some huge shots from the top, landing cleanly with a heavy right hand that stunned the Brazilian.
From there, Dawson uncorked some violent hammer fists, bouncing Santos’ head off the mat and knocking his mouthpiece out. Incredibly, referee Chris Tognoni stopped the fight with just one second remaining.
The win should be recognized as Dawson’s best in his UFC career, and with a 17-1 record overall now, he’s a man to fear at 145lbs.
#5 Jackson wastes no time in dealing with Strader
Montel Jackson’s fight with Jesse Strader was billed as a barnburner, and it lived up to that hype.
Strader, a UFC newcomer, had a reputation for wild brawling, while we’d already seen that from Jackson during his UFC tenure.
And indeed, the two men threw down from the off in this UFC Bantamweight clash – but it was Jackson who came out on top.
Strader just looked too nervy and ended up being dropped by a right hand early on. He bounced back to his feet, but Jackson continued to walk him down and ended things with a pretty savage combination.
Ref Keith Peterson could even have stopped the fight earlier than he did, but Jackson made sure by swarming the newcomer with a violent barrage.
The fight lasted just under two minutes and largely set the tone for an incredible night of action.