UFC Austin 2022: 5 Things We Learned
UFC Austin seemed destined to be a fan favorite card, and it lived up to the hype. Of the thirteen fights, only four went to a decision. Of the nine finishes, eight were by KO/TKO. In addition, the four decisions were all entertaining scraps. Throughout the card, we saw top contenders, fan favorites, and elite prospects. Here are five things we learned at UFC Austin.
1. Josh Emmett needs one more win for a title fight
Josh Emmett had a strong performance at UFC Austin that earned him a split decision victory. You can make the argument that Kattar won, but Emmett was the one who saw his hand raised. After that performance, he will be ranked in the top five, and he has almost earned a title shot. The featherweight division is tough to forecast, and the impending trilogy between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway will play a major role in the future of the title. At the same time, the upcoming fight between Brian Ortega and Yair Rodriguez appears to be a number one contender fight. It feels like Emmett is slightly behind in the race for the next title shot, but if he can snag one more win, it will be tough to deny him a fight against the champion.
2. Calvin Kattar is still an elite featherweight
Despite his loss, Calvin Kattar proved again that he is an elite featherweight. You can make the case that this was proven in his fight against Giga Chikadze, but he left no doubts after his performance against Emmett. Emmett is a tremendous fighter and his power is a threat from round one to five. Kattar showed his striking prowess as he was able to avoid many of Emmett’s power strikes and land some great jabs. These were the keys to victory for Kattar. Unfortunately, he did not get the nod from the judges.
In future matchmaking, Kattar should be treated like an elite featherweight. He should not slide too far in the rankings, either. Fights against Chan Sung Jung and Arnold Allen would make sense. He may also be able to work his way into a fight against the loser of Ortega and Rodriguez.
3. MMA judges still can’t score a fight correctly
Problems with MMA judging have become all too common. Last week, we saw Taila Santos get robbed against Valentina Shevchenko, and we saw Holly Holm drop a close decision against Ketlen Vieira. Before I complain about judging, let me say Katter/Emmett was a very close fight and Emmett fought well. However, I think Kattar should have got his hand raised. In terms of scoring, it is unquestionable that Kattar won rounds four and five, while Emmett got round three. Rounds one and two were the close round and, in my opinion, Emmett won round one while Kattar won round two. This would give Kattar the victory. Below are the judges’ scorecards.
As you can see, two judges scored the fight in Emmett’s favor. However, Chris Lee gave Emmett round four. As I just said, Kattar unquestionably won round four. It is tough to repeatedly have this conversation, but judges keep making mistakes. I would not make a big deal out of this if the judges scored a close round two in Emmett’s favor. I would disagree, but I would understand how a judge came to that opinion. With that being said, I believe scoring round four in Emmett’s favor is an egregious mistake.
4. Kevin Holland deserves a ranked opponent
Kevin Holland showed again that he is much better at welterweight. He was always good at middleweight, but he could not beat elite wrestlers. This is largely due to being undersized while not having elite takedown defense, as well as not being able to get up off the bottom. While Tim Means is not an elite wrestler (he is good but not great), Holland showed improvements in his historically weaker areas and improvements in the clinch as well. With those improvements, Holland put on display once again his length striking and power.
It is time to give Holland a ranked opponent. Otherwise, he will keep finishing unranked opponents. After the fight, Holland asked for a fight against Sean Brady. Brady would be a tough fight for Holland, but, at the same time, a win for Holland would prove that he can beat elite wrestlers. That may be worthwhile. However, I doubt the UFC would book that fight.
5. Adrian Yanez will be a staple at bantamweight
Adrian Yanez once again displayed that he is a top prospect in the bantamweight division. Yanez brutally beat Tony Kelley by knockout in round one. Yanez has looked good in all of his UFC bouts, but this one felt different. A couple of minutes into the fight, it was evident that Yanez was going to get a win. He slowly started to make reads and hit Kelley with solid punches. He was catching the kicks from Kelley and returned with punches that split Kelley’s guard. Once he landed a couple of solid shots, it seemed like he could not miss. Eventually, Kelley wore down and Yanez ended the fight.
Yanez’s boxing will make him a staple in the bantamweight division. He seems to have the ability to throw hands with the best of the division. He is not perfect, he may struggle against elite kick boxers or grapplers, but his boxing is good enough to carry him to a lengthy UFC career filled with success.