UFC Kansas City: Daniel Zellhuber Gets First UFC Win in Wild Scrap with Lando Vannata

Lando Vannata and Daniel Zellhuber, UFC Kansas City
Lando Vannata and Daniel Zellhuber, UFC Kansas City ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Eddie Law/Cageside Press

Longtime UFC veteran Lando Vannata moved back up to lightweight to fight young prospect Daniel Zellhuber at UFC Kansas City.

Vannata, best known for his debut ‘Fight of the Night’ against Tony Ferguson in 2016, has fought a who’s who of names in the UFC but has often traded wins and losses and even draws, and in fact had never had a consecutive winning or losing streak in the UFC. He had lost in his last fight prior to Saturday against Charles Jourdain, however, so it was interesting to see if he could avoid his first losing streak.

Zellhuber was in one of the best fights in Contender Series history but then had a lot of trouble landing on Trey Ogden in his debut, hitting on only 29% of his strikes and showing a lack of intensity. Still, this fight seemed close on paper and Vannata is always a fighter who fans look forward to seeing.

The start of the fight saw Lando switching stances in his patented style while the much taller Zellhuber stayed orthodox and pumped out his jab. Lando landed a big left hook for the first big strike fifty seconds in, but Zellhuber was not discouraged. The pair traded solid low kicks throughout. Zellhuber looked to clinch up and land knees at one point but Vannata was able to break free quickly. Just past the halfway point Vannata ate a shot that hurt him. Zellhuber looked to swarm and hit him with a big knee against the fence. Lando was forced to drop to the mat and ate constant short shorts but Jason Herzog did not step in. Lando started to get to a knee but Daniel was all over him. Eventually Vannata managed to get to his feet in the final thirty seconds, but he was bloodied and badly bruised as the round ended.

Round two saw Lando fighting like his usual self, remarkably composed and technical for someone who was hurt so badly just minutes earlier. Zellhuber tried to use his length still while Vannata looked to rush in while switching and land body shots, something he did not do in the first round. Two minutes in, Lando tried to start a pocket boxing exchange but got caught and put off with a lead hook. Soon after though he landed a hard rear uppercut, a sign of a much better round. He then shot the first takedown of the fight but was stuffed easily. Both fighters’ lead hooks seemingly could not miss, each snapping the other’s head back a few times more. With forty seconds left in the round Vannata caught a kick and almost got a trip, but Zellhuber was able to just barely scramble back to his feet when his knees hit the mat. The close second stanza ended with all to play for.

The final round saw Lando get his mouthpiece knocked down in the first seconds but he did not seem particularly hurt. Until, that is, Zellhuber landed some solid punches while pressing him back. Lando got clinched up and kneed briefly but was able to escape; Jason Herzog then gave him back his mouthpiece. Zellhuber’s short right straight had no telegraph and began to find the target more. Yet Vannata stayed in it, though he was mostly on the backfoot in the first four minutes of the round.

Both men had somewhat abandoned the successful low kicks of round one, but Zellhuber now went back to it. With one minute left Zellhuber threw up a big high kick and even though it was blocked it appeared to damage Vannata, who high fived his opponent for the successful attack. In the last minute Lando finally was able to get on the front foot, but did not necessarily win the action even then other than partially landing a nice high kick of his own. The final round was close, so despite the first round being dominant for Zellhuber the scoring could feasibly have gone either way.

When the judges scorecards were read neither fighter could have been at ease after seeing the first fight of the night. However, all three judges were in agreement on the winner, if not the exact scoring, as 23-year old Daniel Zellhuber put the veteran Lando Vannata on the first losing streak of his UFC career.

Official Result: Daniel Zellhuber def. Lando Vannata by Unanimous Decision (29-27, 29-28, 30-27)