UFC Kansas City: About Saturday’s Action

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – APRIL 14: (L-R) Max Holloway and Arnold Allen of England face off during the UFC Fight Night ceremonial weigh-in at T-Mobile Center on April 14, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Delivering on-the-fly results and analysis of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Allen event at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, MO.

Blessed Still Better Than Most

Max Holloway halted Arnold Allen’s undefeated run in the UFC in Saturday’s main event, sweeping the scorecards in an entertaining, competitive fight.

The former champion used a dialled-back version of his signature high-output approach to edge out the ascending Brit, peppering him in those moments when Allen was resetting or looking to throw. It was one of those contests where each round began close, but in several of the stanza, “Blessed” would pull away as time ticked off the clock, turning debatable rounds into decisive frames in his favour.

Allen came out trying to manufacture a finish in the fifth and showed he’s capable of hanging at this level in defeat, but trying to beat Holloway in a more technical, shot-for-shot battle proved too difficult.

Holloway now finds himself in an interesting position, having beaten pretty well everyone that matters in the 145-pound weight class save for champion Alexander Volkanovski, who is up 3-0 on the former titleholder. It’s going to be interesting to see what Holloway wants to do next and if the UFC makes a push for him to move up to the lightweight ranks to create some fresh matchup opportunities near the top of the featherweight ranks.

This Shouldn’t Happen

Allen won 10 straight UFC fights, but somehow, that wasn’t enough to merit a spot in the February interim title fight or a championship matchup before that. Instead, he landed opposite the former champion Holloway, caught a loss, and is now forced to reset after losing to someone that isn’t going to be fighting for the title any time soon.

This shouldn’t happen.

I know I harp on this stuff a lot, but this is precisely why: Saturday’s main event did nothing positive for the featherweight division. If anything, it did damage, as an undefeated, emerging talent was knocked off course by a tenured veteran who is already 0-3 against the reigning champ.

We talk all the time about the UFC needing to stop putting contenders through the gauntlet like this, and this needs to be Exhibit A in the case for doing so.

Barboza’s Still Got It

Anyone doubting whether Edson Barboza still had anything to offer after more than a year on the sidelines and consecutive losses found out that the answer is “Yes” as the Brazilian veteran delivered a dramatic walk-off finish in the co-main event.

The chiseled Barboza flashed his speed advantage and sharp striking early in his bout with Billy Quarantillo, who gamely traded shots with Barboza while looking to close the distance and wrestle. Just passed the midway point of the opening stanza, Quarantillo backed Barboza to the fence, threw an overhand right, and looked to change levels, but was greeted by a knee right up the middle.

Quarantillo dropped like a heap and Barboza was back in the win column.

We talk about it all the time, but veterans like Barboza that are able to continue competing at this level this late into their careers are anomalies and need to be celebrated. He’s fought an absolute Murderer’s Row of opposition over the years, remains stationed in the Top 15, and just posted another highlight reel finish, despite turning 37 earlier this year.

He said going into the fight that he has plenty more to offer and was excited to deliver a performance that thrills the crowd, and he did just that on Saturday night.

Still Unbeaten

Despite fading down the stretch, Azamat Murzakanov maintained his unbeaten record, posting a unanimous decision win over Dustin Jacpoby to push his record to 3-0 in the UFC and 13-0 overall.

The burly Russian hurt Jacoby early in the first, bombing on the Colorado native with heavy shots, and stung him again late in the second, stealing the round in the waning moments by putting “The Hanyak” on shaky legs. After collecting himself in the corner between rounds, Jacoby came out and tried to take the fight to Murzakanov in the third, but simply didn’t have the gas and power to get the job done, winning the round, but coming up short overall.

Murzakanov is an interesting figure in the always open light heavyweight ranks, as he’s a little undersized, but fundamentally sound, brandishing a solid amount of power and a well-rounded skill set. Because he’s 34, a run to the top of the division is unlikely, but he’s making a push towards the Top 10 and should get an opponent with a single digit next to his name next time out.

Cutelaba Clobbers Boser

Ion Cutelaba needed just over two minutes to spoil the light heavyweight debut of Canadian Tanner Boser.

The two men danced around each other, pawing from range over the first minute of the contest. But then Cutelaba decided to sit down on a right hand that got Boser’s attention, and the sequel put him on shaky legs, prompting “The Hulk” to crash forward and smash out the finish.

Cutelaba has been stopped in three straight and garnered just a single victory in his last seven outings prior to this one, but flashed the fight-shifting power that has always made him entertaining and dangerous dance partner for anyone. He’s never going to be a contender, but Cutelaba is an excellent entrance exam for the UFC to put in front of anyone hoping to have success in the 205-pound weight class.

Questions Answered at Bantamweight

Heading into the clash between Pedro Munhoz and Chris Gutierrez, the question was whether the streaking Gutierrez was ready to ascend into the upper tier of talent in the loaded bantamweight division.

The answer was no.

Munhoz dropped the Factory X representative in the first round with a sharp left hook before spending the remainder of the fight on the gas pedal and in Gutierrez’ face en route to a unanimous decision win. This was another example of how quality of opponents can often tell you more about a competitor than just the results, as these two arrived in Kansas City with disparate recent results.

While Gutierrez had won four straight and was unbeaten in eight, Munhoz hadn’t won since early 2021 and was just 1-4 with a No Contest over his previous six. But each of Munhoz’ fights came against Top 15 opponents, while Gutierrez had faced less established names, and the difference was evident in their approaches on Saturday.

This was a good win for the ever-present Munhoz, who remains a Top 15 fixture in the 135-pound weight class and should continue to be utilized as a truth machine at bantamweight for the foreseeable future.

Garcia Jabs Up Guida

Rafa Garcia didn’t need to stray from Plan A in the opening fight of the main card, as he was able to stick Clay Guida with 947 jabs over three rounds to secure the biggest win of his career. (Note: it wasn’t really 947 jabs)

The 28-year-old said going into the bout that he was going to stand his ground and back Guida up, and he did just that, taking the center of the cage right away and maintaining that position while snapping Guida’s head back throughout. He couldn’t get “The Carpenter” out of there despite trying desperately to make it happen, but it was an outstanding performance nonetheless.

Following the contest, Guida took off his gloves, but it wasn’t to retire — it was to exchange gloves with Garcia.

Preliminary Card Thoughts

I talk all the time about the importance of “ecosystem fighters” in each division, and Bill Algeo proved my point in the final preliminary card matchup of the night.

“Señor Perfecto” went shot-for-shot with Dana White’s Contender Series grad TJ Brown, trading blows for roughly six minutes before clipping Brown with a short elbow that opened the door for a finish. With his opponent hurt, the 33-year-old veteran quickly worked to the back and under the neck, squeezing out the choke before cutting a tremendous anti-Kansas City promo in his post-fight interview.

Algeo is one of those guys that is perfectly situated in the Second 15 at featherweight — a well-rounded, durable veteran who can serve as a test for ascending hopefuls, a dangerous dance partner for fellow veterans, and a guy you can rely on to turn in entertaining efforts each time out. Fighters like this rarely get praise, but Algeo and those like him deserve their flowers for doing what they do each and every time out.


Brandon Royval gave himself every opportunity to be next in line to challenge for the UFC flyweight title on Saturday, collecting a first-round knockout win over Matheus Nicolau in their highly anticipated preliminary card contest.

As Nicolau tried to close the distance with a long-range punch, Royval threw a right knee up the middle that found the chin and put the Brazilian in static shock. The follow ups came quickly and precisely, prompting the stoppage, and putting the 30-year-old Factory X representative in a position to potentially challenge for the title later in the year.

Royval has history with both champion Brandon Moreno and challenger Alexandre Pantoja, with the UFC 290 title combatants being responsible for his only two losses inside the Octagon. This was a quick, efficient performance, so don’t be surprised if Royval shows up as the backup to that fight and July and standing across from the winner whenever the belt goes on the line again.


A pair of veterans called it a career after their bout on Saturday night, with Zak Cummings going out with a third-round stoppage victory and Ed Herman following suit by walking away following the defeat.

Cummings showed out at home, returning from nearly three years on the sidelines to drop Herman multiple times throughout the contest. Late in the third, after busting Herman’s nose, Cummings finally collected the finish. After the bout, both men took off their gloves, thanked the crowd, and called it a day, sharing a moment in the center of the Octagon to close out their respective careers.

This was a cool moment between a pair of grizzled veterans, but also exactly what needed to happen here. Herman didn’t have anything much to offer Cummings other than toughness, while the local fighter created the perfect moment for himself to walk away. Sean often jokes about, “I look forward to the next one,” but these two are surely done, and we thank them for everything they gave the sport over the years.


Gillian Robertson looks like a genuine person of interest in the strawweight division after dispatching Piera Rodriguez on Saturday.

“The Savage” brought the fight to the canvas in the first by pulling guard and eventually worked her way to top position before instantly driving through a takedown to start the second. From there, she patiently landed shots that busted up Rodriguez while advancing positions and looking to set up attacks. When Rodriguez left her arm out for too long, Robertson pounced, locking out the armbar.

Rodriguez didn’t appear to tap and the result was read as a “verbal submission.” Robertson had her dead to rights, so whether she tapped or not, she wasn’t getting out of that armbar. This was the best Robertson has looked in my opinion — she was more aggressive with her striking from top position, more tactical with her setups, and only attacked when she felt she was poised to finish.


It was a good bounce-back performance for UFC sophomore Daniel Zellhuber on Saturday, as “The Golden Boy” registered a unanimous decision win over veteran Lando Vannata.

The 23-year-old hurt Vannata in the first round and chased the finish, battering the Albuquerque native along the fence to the point that referee Jason Herzog implored Vannata to move several times if he wanted to continue. The veteran rallied back in the second, mixing up his approaches and his striking angles to confuse Zellhuber a little, but the Mexican prospect responded by attacking early in the third and salting things away.

Zellhuber has tremendous size for the division and uses his length well on the feet, which makes him an intriguing addition to the lightweight ranks. Time will tell how far he will climb, but rebounding here with a good win over a battle-tested opponent is a very good sign.


Denise Gomes delivered an outstanding showing in her sophomore appearance in the Octagon on Saturday, finishing fellow Brazilian Bruna Brasil midway through the second round.

The 23-year-old Parana Vale Tudo representative continuously cracked Brasil with sharp rights throughout the contest, chasing her down and finding her chin. Each time she did, Brasil reacted poorly, backing straight up with her chin in the air, and looking very uncomfortable with being hit. Gomes took advantage of that in the second, willingly stepping into the fray to land another big right that put her countrywoman on the canvas, with pinpoint coffin nails bringing about the finish.

While she’s still raw, this was a good showing for Gomes, who clearly has big power for the division and plenty of room to grow. The PRVT squad build a diminutive, raw Jessica Andrade into a champion from a similar age, and Gomes should get every opportunity to continue learning from her teammate as she tries to replicate that developmental success story.


The commentary team needs a refresher on the scoring criteria because from the jump, they were incorrect in their assessment of how things should be scored.

In the opening bout of the evening, analysts Daniel Cormier and Michael Bisping again gave greater credence to Lucie Pudilova being in top position but doing little damage when Joselyne Edwards cracked the Czech veteran with clean shots prior to being taken down. In the moment, I tweeted that we’d learn something about the judges in Kansas City, and before the scores were read, I noted that 29-28 Edwards was not crazy… and then two judges scored the fight that way and the broadcast team went nuts.

This is a terrible look for the UFC. You can’t have the experts on your broadcast calling legitimate and viable decisions awful and speaking about things incorrectly; not in fights where the possibility of such a score is obvious. I feel like Jon Anik would have pointed out the potential of Edwards’ effective striking winning the first if he were on the call, but Brendan Fitzgerald failed to do so, joining the chorus of complaints about the result when it was the correct verdict.

E. Spencer Kyte is a veteran MMA content creator based in Abbotsford, British Columbia. He's written for numerous outlets, including FOX Sports and The Province, British Columbia's leading newspaper, and has been a freelance contributor to the UFC website for more than a decade. Follow him on Twitter: @spencerkyte.

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