Is this the end for Holly Holm?

What mattered most at UFC on ESPN 49 in Las Vegas? Here are some post-fight thoughts…

Terrance McKinney just might not turn the corner

There was a lot of hype surrounding Terrance McKinney after he entered the UFC with a seven-second knockout victory and followed it up with a two-minute submission finish. Since then, however, times have been tough.

McKinney (13-6 MMA, 3-3 UFC) has lost three of his last four inside the octagon and finished in all of them, including a second-round submission loss to Nazim Sadykhov on Saturday. He also won the fight, before a tactical error allowed his opponent to get on his back and suffocate him.

Through 19 fights, McKinney still hasn’t seen a decision result. No one doubts his ability to entertain, but if you’ve been following his interviews and his comments on social media, it’s clear that being mediocre is not his goal. He wants greatness. There’s all the potential for that to happen, but it’s up to him to put it in place, and the evidence is starting to pile up against that possibility.

Is Norma Dumont enough to keep 145 alive?

When Amanda Nunes retired from MMA in June, it seemed inevitable that the UFC women’s featherweight division would come out with her. It still seems likely after the promotion removed the divisional “ranking” from its official website last week, but is there a case for keeping it?

If there is, it would be because of Norma Dumont, who beat Chelsea Chandler by unanimous decision in their grudge match and continues to be the most consistent presence the UFC weight class has ever seen. . She became the first to achieve five octagon wins at 145 pounds, and later pleaded for the UFC to reinstate the belt and give her an opportunity.

I don’t really know how I feel about this. Dumont (10-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) has definitely earned…something, with his six-game winning streak in his last seven fights. But it’s a hard sell. It would be one thing if Dumont was super horny and her fights were dates. You could build around her and, much like former champions Cris Cyborg and Nunes, people would be content to see her pop up every once in a while in a title fight, even if the divisional infrastructure isn’t really there. .

It’s not really Dumont, though. And I say that with the greatest respect. All of her UFC wins have come by decision, and she has no highlight on her reel. It won’t do much to convince the UFC that you should be the face of a division that’s already on life support, but maybe the powers that be see it differently.

Has the Jack Della Maddalena hype gone off the rails?

It’s delicate. Jack Della Maddalena was set to fire short-notice newcomer Bassil Hafez in the welterweight co-main event after the latter stepped in on just five days’ notice to face the Australian, who had won his previous four appearances in the octagon by knockout in the first round. .

It didn’t turn out that way at all, though. Hafez came out of the gates on fire and did a great job in rounds one and two. In the eyes of many, that was enough to seal the fight in his favor if he could avoid being finished in Round 3, which nearly happened, but he reached the final bell. Then the judges handed down a split decision, with two for Della Maddalena (16-2 MMA, 5-0 UFC) and one for Hafez.

Although Della Maddalena was the first to say he was not surprised by Hafez’s performance and expected a very tough fight, it might not be seen as such a positive moment by his detractors. . And maybe even by some of his supporters. Della Maddalena could have very easily come out on the losing end of this one, and that would have been very bad for his brand.

Even with the win he lost some of his advantage, but is that fair? I’m not so sure. We have to take into account that Della Maddalena made back-to-back weight cuts after moving up to welterweight for UFC 290 last week, only to have his fight fall apart on weigh-in day. He said it had no impact on his efforts, but optically it didn’t look like his previous UFC fights.

Della Maddalena should just be happy he walked away from this one by the skin of his teeth. He fought three rounds in the UFC for the first time and was tested under difficult circumstances, and that will only be a mainstay as the 26-year-old evolves. He’ll likely return to action in just eight weeks at UFC 293 in Sydney, and if he can get a definitive win, it will put the memories of that fight long in the past.

Mayra Bueno Silva pleads for vacant gold

We don’t need to spend a lot of time explaining why Mayra Bueno Silva is a clear candidate to be one of the halves of the vacant UFC women’s bantamweight title fight. Beating Holly Holm in a main event is a huge achievement, and submitting the former UFC champion like she did is the icing on the cake.

Bueno Silva (11-2-1 MMA, 6-2-1 UFC) doesn’t play in there like some other fighters. She looks to finish her opponents off the jump, and that’s the type of toughness that UFC brass appreciates. She has a muddy personality and isn’t afraid to talk trash, as we saw in her hilarious response to Julianna Peña after the event.

Barring unforeseen surprises, Bueno Silva is one of three candidates to fight for the vacant gold, along with Peña and Raquel Pennington. One of them will be the odd woman whenever the fight happens, and I find it hard to think that Bueno Silva will be the one to be snubbed.

A lost opportunity for Holly Holm – maybe forever

The stage seemed so perfectly set for Holly Holm. Nunes has retired. The title was vacant. She has the championship pedigree, name value and followings to secure a spot in the next title fight. All she had to do was beat Bueno Silva, and the world was her oyster.

No. This does not happen. For perhaps the first time, Holm looked like she had been caught up in all the years of combat sports. Even producing a solid first round, Holm just seems a bit slower and out of his game than previous fights. Should this be a surprise at 41? Probably not. The decline was going to come eventually, but the question now is whether she still has enough to make a run for, or if we’ve come to the start of a steep decline.

Only Holm really knows the answer to that deep down. She was caught in a savage submission by Bueno Silva, but she was unhindered by any stretch. If Bueno Silva is going to rise to the top and take that vacant belt, it’s going to put her back in a familiar situation she had with Nunes and Cyborg of not being able to defeat the reigning titleholder.

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Holm has long said she would only continue in the fighting game if she maintained the belief that she could be a UFC champion. For perhaps the first time, she’ll have to be extremely honest with herself about what the future looks like from here.

There is still a path that could be traced to him. Maybe Bueno Silva isn’t put in the vacant title fight and it’s Peña and Pennington instead. Holm has never fought Peña and she already has two wins over Pennington. It’s a bit long, but there are still scenarios in play for Holm. We’ll see if she sticks to it or if she realizes that all of her greatest combat sports accomplishments are already behind her.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s Event Center for UFC on ESPN 49.

The story originally appeared on MMA Junkie

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