With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMA Junkie looks at the best fights from January 2021: Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMA Junkie’s “Fight of the Month” award for January.
At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting on your choice.
Carlos Felipe def. Justin Tafa at UFC on ABC 1
For the majority of three rounds, heavyweights Carlos Felipe (10-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) and Justin Tafa (4-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) stood in the pocket. Both men swung major heat in a boxing-heavy affair.
A close first round saw Tafa utilize his range and technical kickboxing. The body was a major target. In Round 2, the high-octane portion of the fight commenced. Felipe and Tafa exchanged big shots, though neither hit the canvas. Round 3 played out much like Round 2, with both fighters going for the finish, but to no avail. In the end, Felipe got the decision nod.
Max Holloway def. Calvin Kattar at UFC on ABC 1
Calvin Kattar (22-5 MMA, 6-3 UFC) went on a solid run to get himself into a position to headline a card against Max Holloway (22-6 MMA, 18-6 UFC), who proved he’s still in his prime with a historic beatdown.
Kattar found out the hard way, as Holloway, the former UFC featherweight champion, was in vintage form. The Hawaiian standout quite simply pieced up a super tough opponent for 25 minutes, landing a record amount of strikes for a UFC fight en route to a unanimous decision win with scores of 50-43, 50-43, and 50-42.
Mike Davis def. Mason Jones at UFC on ESPN 20
Mason Jones (10-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) made quite the introduction to the UFC in an sick scrap with fellow featherweight Mike Davis (9-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC), but it wasn’t enough for him to get his hand raised.
The undefeated two-division Cage Warriors champion went tooth-and-nail with Davis for three rounds, exchanging shots from every position over the 15-minute bout. The judges seemingly favored Davis’ power over Jones’ power, though, and that got him the unanimous decision win.
Joanne Calderwood def. Jessica Eye at UFC 257
Both Jessica Eye (15-9 MMA, 5-8 UFC), a former UFC flyweight title challenger, and Joanne Calderwood (15-5 MMA, 7-5 UFC), a fighter who’s long been on the cusp but never quite gotten there, went into their bout in need of a win.
That gave their flyweight fight an extra sense of urgency that translated into a highly entertaining bout. Two wild rounds of back-and-forth striking in the pocket and in the clinch led to a third round, which Calderwood bore down and sealed the deal for a unanimous decision.
Marcin Prachnio def. Khalil Rountree at UFC 257
Marcin Prachnio (14-5 MMA, 1-3 UFC) saved his spot on the UFC roster when he snapped a three-fight losing skid and pulled off a rather sizable betting upset against Khalil Rountree (8-5 MMA, 4-5 UFC).
In the pairing of hard-hitting light heavyweights, Prachnio’ volume proved to be the difference-maker. He stood up to Rountree’s big shots and used superior output to slow hi opponent down and win the unanimous decision.
The winner: Mike Davis vs. Mason Jones
Davis got his hand raised over Jones at UFC on ESPN 20, but he had to give it his all over the course of three rounds. It was a highly entertaining battle, and you can relive the blow-by-blow action from MMA Junkie senior reporter Mike Bohn, who was cageside on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi doing play-by-play as the fight went down.
Round 1 – It’s a lightning-fast pace to stat the fight as Davis and ones are exchanging hard punches and kicks rom inside the clinch. Jones, the two division Cage Warriors champion, seems quite comfortable in his fist octagon appearance with the striking, but he’s perhaps too comfortable as he walks into a takedown. Davis can’t hold him down, and Jones makes him pay with a hard leg kick that prompts another failed takedown attempt. Davis is looking to counter as Jones pressures forward, and Jones is having major success with the uppercut. Davis secures his second takedown of the fight, but again can’t keep Jones down. Davis lands a knee and elbow before the break. The pair exchange blows on the feet until Davis finds his opening for another takedown. He’s having a very hard time keeping the fight on the mat, and Jones makes him pay with punches and a grazing head kick on the getup before the end of the round.
Round 2 – Jones opens with a low kick that whiffs. Davis mixes up his punches then lands a HARD low kick that takes Jones’ legs out from under him. He pops right back up, and they get back to striking. Jones is mixing up his attacks better, an the punches are starting to get through. Davis eats a hard right that that backs him up, but he’s still firing back with combinations and working to mix in his takedown attempts. Davis lands a left then an uppercut, but Jones is peppering him with jab, body shots and hooks in response. Davis’ output is beginning to fade, but he’s still landing. Jones isn’t overly concerned by the power, an is keeping a large amount of pressure on and not giving Davis much room to breath. Jones is relentless with his output, but Davis is doing well to avoid the clean punches. to the head. Davis lands a big shot that knocks out Jones’ mouthguard, and Davis retreats before launching into a takedown. He rides out top position for the remainder of the round.
Round 3 – Davis, in need of a major moment, wings combinations at Jones to open the round. He goes upstairs with a head kick that’s narrowly blocked, and it prompts Jones to come forward with a takedown attempt. Davis denies it, and moves away from the fence and back into open space. Jones moves forward with a jab, followed by straight punches and hooks behind it. Davis looks to be fatiguing, but sneak a short right hand inside. They trade uppercuts. Jones is working beautifully behind the jab, and even mixes in a spinning back kick to the body followed by a pair of front kicks to the gut. Davi is starting to circle away as Jones comes after him, then denies a subsequent takedown attempt to end it.