UFC 302: Michal Oleksiejczuk refuses to tap out on arm bar, even after Kevin Holland appears to injure his arm

Kevin Holland has Poland's Michal Oleksiejczuk in an arm bar during the first round of a middleweight bout at the UFC 302 mixed martial arts event Saturday, June 1, 2024, in Newark, N.J. Holland won in the first round. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Kevin Holland wasn’t letting go of Michal Oleksiejczuk’s arm. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

You can say this for Michal Oleksiejczuk after UFC 302: He doesn’t quit easily. Possibly to his detriment.

The last fight before the co-main event at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, saw a bizarre first-round finish between the Polish fighter and UFC veteran Kevin Holland, with Holland emerging the victor via submission.

Oleksiejczuk connected on what looked like a fight-changing blow, leveling Holland with an opportunity to end the fight on the ground. He jumped in, but left his right arm a little too close to Holland, who grabbed it for an inescapable arm bar.

Oleksiejczuk tried to slip out, but ended up on the mat with Holland squeezing his arm backward. Anyone familiar with MMA knows how that can end, but Oleksiejczuk refused to tap. Even after his arm gave way in an apparent dislocation or full-on break.

Referee Herb Dean put a stop to the fight soon after, a decision Oleksiejczuk immediately protested despite his right arm being rendered non-functional. You can see the video of the ending here, but be warned it’s not for the squeamish.

“Dude cracked me with a good shot, somehow we ended up on the ground, left his arm in a little too far. You know what they say, either too out or too in,” Holland said after the fight.

“Just like a regular class in jiu-jitsu, I was trying not to go too hard and then I realized he wasn’t going to tap, so I hugged him a couple times. But overall, Chihuahua got the pit bull out of there.”

It was a stunning sequence of events to watch, including among MMA fighters. Randy Brown, who won the fight to open the main card, watched the bout with the media and urged Oleksiejczuk to tap out.

Bizarrely enough, this wouldn’t be the first time a fighter has been angry with Dean for stopping a fight in the first round because of a broken arm.

At UFC 48, 20 years ago, Dean stopped a heavyweight title fight between Frank Mir and Tim Sylvia after seeing Sylvia’s arm clearly break. Sylvia repeatedly protested the decision, even after the ringside physician evaluated the arm and concurred with Dean’s decision.

X-rays later showed Sylvia’s arm was indeed badly broken, resulting in a layoff of several months. Sylvia later admitted he knew the arm was broken and said Dean saved his career by stepping in when he did.

We’ll see if Oleksiejczuk’s arm is similarly damaged, and if he is similarly thankful. No one ever becomes an MMA referee to have fighters like them.

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