5 things we learned from UFC Vegas 22

Max Griffin (left), Derek Brunson (centre), Grant Dawson (right)
Max Griffin (left), Derek Brunson (centre), Grant Dawson (right)

Another UFC card has passed us by and with it comes a host of talking points and lessons.

With highlight knockouts from Grant Dawson, Tai Tuivasa and Max Griffin, the entertainment aspect of the card was fulfilled throughout. Culminating with a five round main event, UFC Vegas 22 thankfully didn't fall at the final hurdle like last week's event.

The card showed all the hallmarks of being a good watch in the build-up. In action were prospects vying to make a name for themselves, contenders looking to make the next step up the rankings, and veterans showing they haven't lost a step.

With that said, here are five things we learned from UFC Vegas 22.

#5 Warnings aren't enough

Hands up if you expected to see at least one round of fighting before an eye poke or an illegal shot. We got both within the first five minutes of the card, lucky us.

It’s tiring having the same conversation with other fans week in and week out. Unless something is done, whether through the gloves or punishments, nothing will change.

JP Buys was the victim of an eye poke and a low blow in the opening fight of the night against Bruno Silva. The referee's warning before the poke failed to prevent what seems like an inevitability at this point.

It took just minutes for fans and analysts to take to Twitter, sharing their dismay at yet another dose of illegal shots:

Even UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling gave his two cents:

It was clear from the start that the referees had spoken about eye pokes and illegal blows. Michael Bisping confirmed this on the broadcast after a conversation with referee Mark Smith.

Numerous verbal warnings were given throughout. Constant reminders were voiced whenever a kick ventured low, or a finger neared an eye. And yet we are still left with two unpunished fouls in one round.

#4 It's not over until it's over in the UFC

The highlight of the night. A last-second knockout by one of the UFC's most promising prospects. Grant Dawson delivered a memorable moment at UFC Vegas 22.

Just one second away from the final buzzer, Dawson rained a sequence of vicious hammer fists down onto Leonardo Santos. As if the power of the strikes needed emphasizing, the final blow sent the Brazilians' mouth guard flying.

Dawson moves to 5-0 in the UFC, whilst Leonardo Santos' 12-year run without defeat falls at the hands of "KGD". Clay Guida was the subject of Dawson's call-out post-fight, a potential match that could elevate Dawson closer to the top lightweight contenders.

It just goes to show that a finish can come from anywhere at any time, no matter how late in the day.

#3 The Covid threat remains

With the UFC's success in maintaining a schedule during the pandemic, it's easy to forget that the existence of Covid-19 still threatens every fight.

The UFC led the way in returning to action after the initial break caused by the outbreak. In the year since, we've had numerous fights canceled, rescheduled and altered due to positive tests.

With a strong run of cards and an absence of Covid-related incidents, it's easy to forget how easily fights can be compromised. Alexander Volkanovski's positive test is a stark reminder.

The cancelation of Volkanovski's title defense against Brian Ortega was announced during the UFC Vegas 22 broadcast.

Volkanovski's teammate Brad Riddell had been scheduled to face Gregor Gillespie in the card's co-main. The featherweight champion's positive test adds some context behind Saturday's cancelation.

With so many exciting fights booked, all we can do is hope the Covid-curse stays far away from the likes of UFC 260.

#2 Adrian Yanez is more than a prospect

UFC Fight Night: Yanez v Lopez
UFC Fight Night: Yanez v Lopez

It hasn’t taken Adrian Yanez long to make an impact. Since winning his fight on Dana White’s Contender Series last August, the Texan has become a must-see name after just two UFC fights.

Consecutive knockouts have shown Yanez is more than a prospect. He’s not far from a genuine contender.

With strong boxing on display, the 27-year-old won the fight after a clean counter-right left Gustavo Lopez acquainted with the canvas. Speaking after the fight, Yanez expressed his desire to fight in his hometown when the UFC returns to Houston in May:

“Dana White put me on that card. I’m ready to perform in my hometown. Help me live my dream”.

Whoever he fights next, Yanez has guaranteed an audience after the explosive start to his UFC career. He is certainly one to watch.

#1 Derek Brunson is not a gatekeeper

UFC Fight Night: Brunson v Holland
UFC Fight Night: Brunson v Holland

The message has been sent. Put some respect on Derek Brunson's name.

UFC Vegas 22's final fight provided what we wanted. An entertaining and competitive main event. It's something we needed after last week's disappointing no contest.

Thanks to Kevin Holland, it had a strong dose of strange and memorable moments. Thanks to Brunson, it had dominant and controlling grappling, and a clear winner.

It's hard to see why Brunson was relegated to being the division's gatekeeper in most people's eyes. Brunson's losses have been at the hands of genuine top names.

His defeats since 2014 were to Israel Adesanya, Robert Whittaker, Yoel Romero and Anderson Silva. With a win over Edmen Shahbazyan and now Kevin Holland, perhaps "prospect killer" is a more accurate description.

The focus and delivery of his gameplan was impressive, as was his ability to block Holland's constant talk from his mind. Aside from a couple of hairy moments on the feet, it was a comfortable showing for the North Carolina native.

With four wins on the bounce, it's clear Derek Brunson is a contender. A top-five opponent should await him the next time he walks to the Octagon. Brunson mentioned Paulo Costa in his post-fight interview, a fight that more than makes sense at this point. Book it Dana!


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Edited by John Cunningham