UFC Vegas 16 (UFC on ESPN 19) was a card under fire, right up until the very start of the event.
Originally, the Fight Night event was expected to be headlined by a fight that could easily serve as a middleweight title eliminator. Jack Hermansson had been paired up with Darren Till — a very serviceable main event for the ESPN card.
Then, injury hit Till. Kevin Holland, an exciting but unranked 185lb’er, was brought in as a replacement. Only a week out from the fight, however, the MMA gods threw another wrench in the works: Holland was out, care of a positive COVID-19 test. Marvin Vettori, expected to face Jacare Souza a week later, was brought in to save the main event.
Smooth sailing from there on out, right? Well, not quite. Everything went calmly enough right up until Saturday, but just hours before the event, UFC Vegas 16 lost a full three bouts. Nate Landwehr vs. Movsar Evloev and Montana De La Rosa vs. Taila Santos both had positive COVID-19 tests scuttle them. Cody Durden vs. Jimmy Flick was cancelled due to a non-COVID related medical issue with Durden, meanwhile (that bout has already been rebooked for later this month).
In any case, the card just getting underway seemed like a success. Would the main event deliver? We’d know soon enough.
Following Saturday’s UFC Vegas 16 card, tune in for the post-fight press conference. The live stream can be viewed above.