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UFC September 2021 Recap: Fight Stats + Takeaways

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For the first time since February, there were no “And New” announcements made in a UFC title fight! Join us as we discuss all of the in-depth fight stats from each card, along with some of our biggest takeaways from an action-packed month of September!

UFC September 2021 Recap: The “Nitty Gritty”

UFC September 2021 Recap

UFC Vegas 36: Brunson vs. Till (9/4)

  • 9 Fights
    • 4 Decisions
      • 4 Unanimous
    • 5 Finishes
      • 3 KO/TKOs
        • 2 in Round One
        • 1 in Round Two
      • 2 Submissions
        • 2 in Round Three
  • Bonus Winners
    • Fight of the Night: Molly McCann vs. Ji Yeon Kim
    • Performance: Tom Aspinall (TKO), and Paddy Pimblett (TKO)

UFC Vegas 37: Smith vs. Spann (9/18)

  • 14 Fights
    • 6 Decisions
      • 6 Unanimous
    • 7 Finishes
      • 5 KO/TKOs
        • 2 in Round One
        • 1 in Round Two
        • 2 in Round Three
      • 2 Submissions
        • 2 in Round One
    • 1 Draw
      • 1 Unanimous
  • Bonus Winners
    • Fight of the Night: N/A
    • Performance: Anthony Smith (Submission), Arman Tsarukyan (TKO), Nate Maness (TKO), and Joaquin Buckley (TKO)

UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega (9/25)

  • 13 Fights
    • 5 Decisions
      • 5 Unanimous
    • 8 Finishes
      • 6 KO/TKOs
        • 2 in Round One
        • 2 in Round Two
        • 1 in Round Three
        • 1 in Round Four
      • 2 Submissions
        • 1 in Round One
        • 1 in Round Two
  • Bonus Winners
    • Fight of the Night: Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega
    • Performance: Merab Dvalishvili (TKO) and Chris Daukaus (TKO)

September 2021 Totals

  • 36 Fights
    • 15 Decisions
      • 15 Unanimous
    • 20 Finishes
      • 14 KO/TKOs (0 in Round Five)
        • 6 in Round One
        • 4 in Round Two
        • 3 in Round Three
        • 1 in Round Four
      • 6 Submissions (0 in Rounds Two, Four, or Five)
        • 3 in Round One
        • 3 in Round Three
    • 1 Draw
      • 1 Unanimous
  • Total Bonus Money Awarded = $600,000
    • 2 Fight of the Nights
    • 8 Performance Awards

UFC September 2021 Recap: Biggest Takeaways

Earned, Not Given

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – SEPTEMBER 25: Alexander Volkanovski of Australia reacts to his win over Brian Ortega in their UFC featherweight championship fight during the UFC 266 event on September 25, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

UFC Featherweight Champion, Alexander Volkanovski, has finally been given the respect he is due following his fight of the year contender at UFC 266. Successfully making his second title defense against the ultra-dangerous, Brian Ortega. While most of the fight played in the champion’s favor, it did not come without plenty of adversity. This includes having to escape not one, not two, but three submission attempts from the Jiu-Jitsu ace, Ortega. The willpower and calmness from Volkanovski to escape danger were truly something to behold.

Not to mention on the feet, this fight was a back and forth barn burner that saw both men land cleanly numerous times, with the better of the exchanges going to Volkanovski. Now having earned the second red ruby to add to his belt, the masses have finally seemed to come together on Alexander Volkanovski and the incredible talent that he possesses as a UFC champion. Whilst it is unfortunate that it took this long, the two wins over fan-favorite Max Holloway, including one that was razor close, probably did not help speed up the process.

Now heading into the final months of 2021, it seems Volkanovski will get to take a rest, wait and see who will be next to challenge his throne. A November 13 headlining bout between the aforementioned Holloway and top-three contender, Yair Rodriguez, seems like an all-to-clear option to determine the next title challenger. With that said, the spring of 2022 could be the next featherweight title fight if all goes well and after such an amazing performance at UFC 266, fans will be all too ready to see “The Great” step foot in the octagon for title defense number three.

Bow Down to the Queen

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – SEPTEMBER 25: Valentina Shevchenko of Kyrgyzstan celebrates her knockout of Lauren Murphy in their UFC flyweight championship fight during the UFC 266 event on September 25, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Valentina Shevchenko earned her sixth title defense at UFC 266, and it would once again come dominantly. This time against the super durable and gritty Lauren Murphy. Coming into this one, Murphy had won five straight fights and done more than enough to earn her shot at UFC gold. However, Shevchenko is essentially the “final boss” of the video game and while Murphy was able to beat all of the other levels, the last mission was simply too much to handle in the form of the champion.

It has been made clear time and time again at this point just how far ahead Shevchenko is when compared to the rest of the 125-pound division. This is not a bad thing, however, because fans should be in a mindset now of feeling honored to watch this woman step into the cage every time out. Shevchenko only seems to be getting better and at just 33 years old, there are absolutely no signs of slowing down.

So, what should come next for the champion many will ask? Well, personally, the third matchup with the current double champ, Amanda Nunes, simply does not come of interest. This is a fight fans have already seen twice, with the winner being Nunes in each. Albeit the second fight was as close a fight as you will see, Shevchenko does not belong at bantamweight. 

Valentina Shevchenko has made it clear she is all about chasing greatness, and her title run at her natural weight class, flyweight, is just that. The issue with making title defense number seven is that everyone ranked 1-4 has already had their crack at the title and come up short. So with that said, it is not too out of the realm of possibility to see the winner of number six Joanne Calderwood and number ten Alexa Grasso be next for Shevchenko following their matchup later this year.

Return of the Mack

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – SEPTEMBER 18: Anthony Smith reacts after his victory over Ryan Spann in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on September 18, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

At UFC Vegas 37, Anthony Smith rallied off his third straight victory, this time against the surging prospect, Ryan Spann. In what was a one-sided affair for as long as it lasted, Smith would eventually get the submission finish 3:47 into round one. However, the bigger takeaway here is the completely new version of Smith that fans got to witness, and no, not just his fighting skills.

During the lead-up to this fight, Anthony Smith felt largely disrespected by Spann due to some comments regarding Smith’s status coming into the fight. Spann felt that he would run right through “Lionheart” and plunge his way into the elite of the light heavyweight division. However, the task at hand turned out to be much more difficult than anticipated by Spann. This would result in Anthony Smith lashing out directly after finishing the fight and getting in Spann’s face to let him know he is still very much a player in this weight class. The two quickly came to terms after the adrenaline wore off and exchanged their respects to one another, which was great to see.

The point being that Anthony Smith is now fighting with a different mindset than what he has in the past, including when he fought for a title. He is fighting with a point to prove and a chip on his shoulder. The respect of his peers is all that he wishes moving forward due to the journey he has been on, and for those that do not respect him, good luck if you step in the octagon with Smith. And from a fan perspective, the disrespect has never made much sense personally, as Smith is everything you would want in a fighter to cheer them on. A classy guy, with a fun fight style and a leave it all in the cage mentality. What comes next for “Lionheart” is still very much up in the air, but one must think that one more victory could launch him right back in for a shot at light heavyweight gold.

Give us your thoughts on our UFC September 2021 Recap and what you felt were the biggest takeaways of the month in the comments below!


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Dominic Sallee is a Combat Sports writer. He focuses primarily on the UFC, with plans to venture out with pieces from other MMA organizations in the future. Along with writing, Dominic is also the Co-Host of the Below Average Joe's MMA Podcast, which produces 2-3 new episodes per week about all things in the MMA community!