While some saw Saturday night’s main event as a potential breakthrough moment for Kevin Holland, Derek Brunson did what he does best and played the spoiler to another middleweight contender.
Stopping Holland’s five-fight winning streak to increase his own tally to four-in-a-row, Brunson would resort to his bread and butter as his grappling nullified his opponent.
While Holland remained undeterred as exemplified by his humourous chatty disposition, it was the Strikeforce veteran who left with both his hand and his stock in the middleweight division raised.
With big victories on the main card for Max Griffin, Adrian Yanez, and Tai Tuivasa, UFC on ESPN 21’s main card would see some exemplary finishes while the preliminary portion of the night saw Grant Dawson hand Leonardo Santos his first loss since 2009 with a late hammerfist KO.
Now with UFC 260 fast approaching, here are a quick five fights for the UFC matchmakers to pencil into their schedules:
Derek Brunson vs. Paulo Costa
After knocking off another young upstart put in front of him, Derek Brunson has played gatekeeper long enough to not get a top contender in his next outing.
Following a post-fight call-out of Paulo Costa, the UFC should probably oblige Brunson with Costa falling out of his scheduled match-up with Robert Whittaker.
With both men favouring their chances in that fight, a Brunson – Costa fight would likely see the winner in with a shout of a title shot.
Max Griffin vs. Niko Price
Max ‘Pain’ Griffin made quick work of Song Keenan to record back-to-back stoppage victories.
Griffin is now a 12-fight veteran under the UFC umbrella but has seen his failings come when tasked with a higher-ranked opponent.
While Griffin has been inconsistent inside of the octagon, his impressive performances should see him get another crack at a more notable name and Niko Price would give him that chance as well as a guarantee of fireworks for the fans.
Adrian Yanez vs. Montel Jackson
Adding to his stock as a big prospect in the bantamweight division, Adrian Yanez produced another KO for his impressive knockout showreel.
With slick striking as his most notable quality, Yanez should continue his ascension through 135 lbs and a fight with fellow UFC on ESPN 21 winner Montel Jackson would test his mettle for his next outing.
Tai Tuivasa vs. Sherman / Porter Winner
Making quick work of short-notice replacement Harry Hunsucker as expected, Tai Tuivasa is in need of a more suitable test.
With Chase Sherman and Parker Porter set to clash next month, the winner should be earmarked for Tuivasa.
Grant Dawson vs. Francisco Trinaldo
Securing a KO at 4:59 of the third round, Grant Dawson picked up a big win over the unheralded and underrated Leonardo Santos.
Now seemingly a permanent fixture of the lightweight division, Dawson should be paired with another fighter sitting just outside the top 15 of the most stacked weight class in MMA.
With another Brazilian in Francisco Trinaldo sitting idly by without a fight lined up, a Dawson – Trinaldo match-up should see the winner matched-up with a ranked foe.