Heading into the UFC Fight Night featherweight main event between Calvin Kattar and Josh Emmett, the fans in Austin, Texas, had been spoiled by a record-tying night of eight knockouts. Then Kattar and Emmett engaged in a bloody, tactical battle over five rounds that ended with Emmett winning a split decision.
The fight was a battle of Kattar's long, straight punches against Emmett's explosive and looping power shots. From the opening moments of the fight, it was clear that the man who could lead the forward engagement would be the fighter doing the more effective work.
In the first two rounds, that edge was held by Emmett as he launched overhand rights and left hooks to the body that repeatedly sent Kattar onto his back foot and stumbling backward into the cage.
Kattar seemed to make the necessary adjustments over the second half of the fight, using a stiff jab and step-in elbows to open a deep cut over Emmett's left eye. Down the stretch, Kattar had a clear edge in the number of strikes landed, but Emmett remained dangerous as he continued to land plenty of his own bombs and bloodying Kattar's nose and causing significant swelling around his eye.
It appeared the fight could go either way at the conclusion of five very close rounds. Ultimately, two of the three judges rewarded the power of Emmett's shots over the output of Kattar, awarding Emmett the fight by scores of 48-47, 47-48 and 48-47.
Emmett entered the fight at No. 7 in the UFC's official rankings and knocked off the No. 4 fighter in Kattar. That was enough to lead Emmett to appeal to UFC president Dana White for a title shot at the winner of the UFC 276 featherweight title fight between champion Alexander Volkanovski and former champ Max Holloway.
"There's a huge title fight in two weeks," Emmett said. "I'm going to be sitting cageside to see who I've got next. Dana, give me my shot."
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Kevin Holland taps out Tim Means
In the night's co-main event, Kevin Holland was set for a big welterweight showdown with Tim Means. From the opening bell, Holland was in control of the fight, using pure pace and aggression to keep Means on his back foot. By the time the second round began, it was clear Means needed to figure out a way to completely change the course of the fight. Instead, Holland landed a massive right hand that took away Means' legs, forcing him to shoot. Holland easily countered the shot by locking in a d'arce choke to force the tap at the 1:28 mark of Round 2.
Albert Duraev's swollen eye gives Juaquin Buckley a TKO win
Juaquin Buckley is known for his stunning 2020 highlight reel knockout of Impa Kasanganay, but on Saturday night, Buckley turned in the most complete fight of his career, battering Albert Duraev with kicks and punches from a variety of angles in their middleweight bout. The damage piled up over the course of two rounds until Duraev's eye was so badly swollen that the ringside physician refused to allow him to begin the final frame. Buckley showed off some increased skill in grappling, defending well in the moments where Duraev got the fight to the floor and getting back to his feet to continue pouring on damage.
Gregory Rodrigues smashes Julian Marquez to score knockout
After picking up wins in his first two UFC bouts, Gregory Rodrigues had his momentum slowed when he suffered a split decision loss to Armen Petrosyan in February. "Robocop" got back on the winning track with a dominating performance in his middleweight clash with Julian Marquez. Rodrigues rocked Marquez several times, but it was a series of smashing right hands that finally put the ultra-tough Marquez down for good in the third minute of the opening round.
Adrian Yanez flattens Tony Kelley in grudge match
Tony Kelley found himself in hot water with many fans when he crudely disparaged Viviane Araujo and her trainers while cornering his girlfriend Andrea Lee during a recent UFC event. The situation made Adrian Yanez, already a thrilling fighter, the rooting favorite for many coming into this match. The two exchanged words during Friday's ceremonial weigh-ins and the animosity continued as both men flashed some taunts during the opening round of the bout. Yet it was Yanez's hands that did the real talking as he scored a scintillating knockout of Kelley that included getting in a few extra shots once Kelley appeared to already be unable to defend himself.
The rest of the record-tying knockouts
Jeremiah Wells flattened Court McKee with a vicious left hook in their welterweight bout.
The featherweight fight between Ricardo Ramos and Danny Chavez ended with a stunning back elbow.
Bantamweight Cody Stamann unloaded with a relentless combination to score a 59-second TKO against Eddie Wineland.
Phil Hawes finished off a game Deron Winn in middleweight action.
Roman Dolidze landed one of the loudest knees of the year on Kyle Daukaus to finish the middleweight clash.