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What mattered most at UFC on ABC 2 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas? Here are a few post-fight musings …

1. Marvin Vettori’s title shot hopes

[autotag]Marvin Vettori[/autotag] doesn’t deserve criticism for the nature of his win over Kevin Holland. The path to victory for him was clear as day, and it would’ve been foolish for him to needlessly stray from it in his unanimous decision win. Yes, Vettori (17-4-1 MMA, 7-2-1 UFC) did say pre-fight he had no intention of copying Derek Brunson’s strategy from three weeks ago against Holland. However, once he got in there and the strikes started flying, it’s hard not to revert back to a space in which he had a massive advantage. Now, we must address the obvious storyline of what this means for Vettori’s career. The case for him to rematch Israel Adesanya would’ve been a lot stronger if he put Holland away inside the distance, but hope isn’t all lost, either. A lot depends on what happens on Saturday between Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum at UFC on ESPN 22. If Whittaker looks impressive, there’s no doubt he should be rematching Adesanya next. The fact he’s a former champion and would have beaten Gastelum, Jared Cannonier and Darren Till since losing the title gives him a better case than Vettori, but even the tiniest slip could open the door for “The Italian Dream.” Should Whittaker win in a very lackluster fashion, come out of the fight with an injury, or doesn’t get his hand raised, then Vettori is the guy. Rooting for another man to fail isn’t the ideal mindset for anyone, but in this scenario, the shoe fits if you’re Vettori.

2. A serious Kevin Holland leads to a worse result

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – APRIL 10: (R-L) Kevin Holland punches Marvin Vettori of Italy in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Are you happy now? [autotag]Kevin Holland[/autotag] was all business going into his second UFC main event in a 21-day stretch, yet Vettori beat him up worse than Brunson did over the course of five rounds. Holland (21-7 MMA, 7-4 UFC) gave up a middleweight record 11 takedowns in the fight with Vettori, and his eye was pretty badly damaged over the duration of 25 minutes. There was little to no talking, just the struggle of losing a fight from pillar to post and further exposing a serious flaw in Holland’s game. Anyone who fights Holland from hereon out would be doing a disservice not trying to repeatedly take the fight to the ground. It’s going to fall on Holland to show that he can stop not just the first shot, but the second, third, fourth and beyond. That’s not a skill that can be developed overnight, and certainly not one he was going to fix in the three weeks between fights, so this result should’ve been expected. The past 11 months have been quite the ride for Holland. He’s fought seven times, got a lot of exposure to his personal brand, and probably made some good money. His 2020 was flawless, but his 2021 has been disastrous. Now, it’s time to slow things down and regroup. What that means for Holland remains to be seen. Will he take a considerable amount of time off to work on his shortcomings? Will he change camps? Change weight classes? These are all possibilities that need to be taken under serious consideration. If not, there will be many more nights ahead where Holland is stuck on his back. [listicle id=602437]

3. Mackenzie Dern’s potential coming to life

[autotag]Mackenzie Dern[/autotag] is really coming into her own as a strawweight contender, and it’s a beautiful thing to see. She lived up to her promise of a first-round submission win over Nina Nunes, and now she’s won four-straight fights since losing her comeback bout against Amanda Ribas after taking time off to have a baby. Dern (11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) seems confident, focused and determined at this stage in her career. That couldn’t be said early on, when the talent was obviously there, but it was well known to insiders of the sport that she wasn’t necessarily doing things the right way. Beating Nunes – who to her credit put some solid wins together before taking her own layoff to give birth to a baby, but isn’t completely championship material – isn’t the win that should have us anointing Dern as the next champion. However, it’s a super promising sign as far as her potential. The next level of 115-pound contenders is going to tell us a lot about Dern. Almost any opponent is going to be dead-to-rights if they find themselves underneath Dern with time for her to work, but what’s going to happen if she can’t make that happen and is forced into prolonged striking exchanges? There are still unanswered questions, but right now, there’s a lot to be excited about.

4. The end of Sam Alvey?

After a total of 21 UFC appearances, there’s a good chance we’ve seen the last of [autotag]Sam Alvey[/autotag] inside the octagon. Despite giving us the “Fight of the Night” with Julian Marquez in their middleweight bout, Alvey (33-15-1 MMA, 10-10-1 UFC) was left in the middle of the octagon, choked unconscious by his opponent. The result pushed his winless skid to six with five losses and a draw. He forecasted his fate with the promotion pre-fight if it didn’t go his way, and it’s hard to disagree with his analysis in the clip below (via Twitter): If it is the end for Alvey, he has nothing to be ashamed of. He recorded 10 wins in the UFC and reached more than 20 fights with the promotion. There are countless fighters who would kill to have that type of career, even if it potentially ended on a low note. At this point, though, it seems Alvey has exhausted all his resources. He’s moved up in weight, back down in weight and received matchups with various types of styles. He can’t seem to find a way to turn it around, though, and the outcome against Marquez wasn’t pretty for the 34-year-old. If Alvey is cut from the roster, we know one thing will remain true: He’ll stay smiling.

5. ‘Platinum Papa’ falls flat

[autotag]Mike Perry[/autotag] is now a sub-.500 fighter in the UFC after losing a unanimous decision to Daniel Rodriguez in their welterweight bout. Coming into the event, Perry touted himself as a changed man. He said the birth of his son altered his mindset, and he was determined to be a good role model and put years of questionable and outright porous behavior behind him by turning a new leaf. That’s all great for him on a personal level – and hopefully it remains true for he remainder of his life – but whatever changes he’s made certainly didn’t help him inside the octagon. If anything, Perry the fighter looks to be regressing, or at best, plateauing. His striking defense consists largely of taking shots to the face with little head movement, and while he’s tough as they come, it’s not conducive to success. Perry seems to be having a tough internal monologue about where he stands, as he expressed in his post-fight statement. He’s got one fight remaining on his UFC contract, and while it seems likely he’ll get the chance to fulfill that, he’s going to need a performance that really shows us something in order to prove he belongs with the promotion long-term. Very early in Perry’s UFC career, before we got to know him and see his personal mishaps, he seemed to have potential as a welterweight prospect. He’s still only 29, but it feels like the book is written on Perry at this point and it wouldn’t be unfair to say if the UFC gives him a new deal beyond the next one, it’s only to keep him out of the hands of others.