Durden fought to a unanimous draw (28-28, 28-28, 28-28) against Chris Gutierrez
at UFC on ESPN+ 31 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
Durden didn't look the part of the underdog early, quickly recording a takedown and moving to the back of Gutierrez before the midway point of Round 1. He continued calmly in that position, attempting to soften up his opponent while searching for the rear-naked choke. Durden was able to get a heavy lead in the striking department and take the round clearly, potentially putting a 10-8 on the board. Despite a dominant round, he didn't necessarily do a ton of damage, and Gutierrez came out refreshed and swinging with damaging shots in the second. One of those was an inadvertent groin kick that stopped the bout temporarily prior to the midway point of Round 2. After resuming, Durden started getting picked apart on the feet with leg kicks and body shots. He was able to record a takedown in the final minute, but was nearly submitted by a well-timed Gutierrez arm bar. By the third round, Durden looked the part of the fighter who had accepted this fight on short notice. His exhaustion left him unable to complete takedowns, and he continued to absorb heavy shots from the fresher Gutierrez on the feet. While Durden faded quickly in the end, his dominant first round ultimately paid off, and he was able to avoid defeat in his company debut.