MMA: Vettori's takedowns deliver unanimous decision win over Holland at UFC Fight Night

LAS VEGAS (REUTERS) – Marvin Vettori set an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight record with 11 takedowns to defeat Kevin Holland via unanimous decision in the main event of Saturday’s (April 10) UFC Fight Night matinee in Las Vegas.

While it was a sound victory (50-44, 50-44, 50-44,) the Italian champion was left wanting more from his performance.

“I wanted to finish this guy and I wasn’t able to,” Vettori said, according to ESPN.”But it was a dominant win. … I’m not the happiest right now, but I keep winning. I keep progressing.”

It was the fifth straight victory for the Italian (17-4-1), who is seeking a rematch with reigning middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.

Holland (8-4) accepted the fight nine days prior after Vettori’s initial opponent, Darren Till, withdrew due to a broken collarbone. It was Holland’s second fight in just 21 days.

“I wanted to fight so bad,” said Vettori. “When they said Till was hurt, I was like I’ll fight whoever. I was literally asking for a light heavyweight fight. I was asking for anybody. I’m game. No problem.

“I’m already the best in the world. I keep focusing on myself and working on everything. I’m a very complete fighter.”

Vettori took Holland down at least once in all five rounds and caused his left eye to swell up with an elbow during the second round.

Also on Saturday’s main card, middleweight Julian Marquez choked opponent Sam Alvey unconscious using a rear-naked choke in the second round.

Marquez (9-2) won his second straight fight since returning from a two-year, injury-related absence from the sport.

He said: “He can take those punches. He’s a veteran. He knows how to fight hurt. I’ve seen it many times throughout the time I’ve been watching him.

“I just realised I wasn’t going to put him out, especially on the ground throwing little punches. So when I transitioned to the back, I saw him bring his head up and I just took the most readily available option. That was the rear-naked choke.

“I take a lot of pride in finishing him, but I was able to use my fight IQ to get his neck and take him out. That was a very important transition. I could have sat there and kept punching him.”

In a featherweight bout, Arnold Allen won a narrow unanimous decision over Sodiq Yusuff, with all three cards coming in at 29-28. The Briton stayed perfect at 8-0 in his UFC career (17-1 overall).

Brazilian strawweight Mackenzie Dern bested American Nina Nunes with an arm-bar submission in the first round. Dern improved to 11-1 for her MMA career (6-1 in the UFC). Dern said she hopes her ranking improves from No. 11 to the top five.

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Meanwhile, UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling will undergo surgery for a neck issue he has been dealing with for nearly a decade and hopes to return to action before the end of the year, ESPN reported.

The American became the first UFC fighter to be crowned champion via disqualification when Petr Yan lost due to an illegal knee in the bantamweight title bout last month.

Yan appeared to ask his corner before kneeing the downed Sterling in the fourth round. Sterling was unable to continue and Yan was disqualified, losing his title.

ESPN said that UFC was keen to book a rematch between Yan and Sterling as soon as possible.

Physicians “told me I will heal in three months and can start doing cardio to get myself ready,” ESPN quoted Sterling as saying.

“They wouldn’t want to see me take a fight until they see everything has fused in my neck correctly. Five months would be ideal if I heal really quick.

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“The faster I heal, the faster I can fight. We’ll find out in the next three months and get something on schedule.”

Sterling also said he had been diagnosed with a herniated disc, a shoulder injury and a partially torn bicep on his left side, but would not require surgery for those issues.

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