SAN JOSE, Calif. — Benson Henderson successfully defended his UFC lightweight title, defeating former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez in a split decision at UFC on Fox 7 on Saturday.
The two 155-pound champs went the distance and the judges saw it in Henderson’s favor with scores of 47-48, 48-47 and 48-47.
Early on, Melendez got the fight to the ground and worked strikes from guard. Henderson got back up, but took a knee on the way there. The two clinched against the cage, each landing short strikes before separating. Henderson showed the edge with leg kicks, but Melendez scored two takedowns for a close opening round.
In the second round, Melendez continued to back his opponent up and landed some inside leg kicks, following those up with punches. The more Henderson threw leg kicks, the more Melendez caught them and engaged. The two traded shots and flurries, but it was Melendez that landed the more significant strikes, earning the close round.
Henderson landed a hard low kick early in the third round, forcing Melendez to fall to the canvas. The challenger got back up, but Henderson continued his aggressive approach and got his opponent down a few moments later. Melendez got back up and the two continued to trade punches with several groups of exchanges. Near the end of the round, Henderson landed a massive low kick that dropped his opponent and he followed up with punches on the ground through the end of time allowed.
Henderson continued to find success with strikes in the fourth round, landing more significant blows. Henderson threw another low kick that dropped Melendez, securing the back immediately thereafter. Melendez briefly turned up the offense, backing Henderson against the cage with a body punch and another to the face.
The final round had both fighters throwing combinations of strikes with some finding their marks. But in the end, judges gave the edge to the defending UFC champ.
Following the win, Henderson proposed to his girlfriend during his post-fight interview. Luckily for him, she said yes.
Cormier gets decision-nod over Mir
Daniel Cormier stayed undefeated, grabbing a unanimous-decision win over Frank Mir in the co-main event at UFC on Fox 7 on Saturday.
The went the distance, but Cormier’s clinch work and aggression proved to give him the edge, with the judges scoring the fight 30-27 across the panel.
Cormier came out strong in the first round, backing up his opponent against the cage and initiating the clinch. He kept Mir against the cage for an extended amount of time, landing several short strikes. Mir got free of the clinch and the round ended in the middle of the Octagon with Cormier having the advantage.
Cormier did more of the same in the second round, clinching with Mir against the cage and finding holes to land strikes. Uppercuts and short strikes to the body scored points for Cormier, while also landing punches to Mir’s chin.
The beginning of round three showed Mir having more fire, pushing the action with mid kicks and knee strikes. Cormier, however, continued to utilize his clinch and land blows to the body. The two were separated on two occasions for a lack of action while in the clinch and time expired a short while later.
The win secures a successful UFC debut for Cormier, who improves his overall MMA record to 12-0.
Thomson stuns Diaz, corner throws in towel
Josh Thomson returned to the UFC, stunning Nate Diaz with a second-round TKO in their main card fight on Saturday.
Diaz walked down his Thomson, taunting his opponent in typical Diaz fashion. Thomson threw combinations of leg kicks and punches to score points, while Diaz countered with punches of his own.
Thomson landed significant head kicks that wobbled his opponent, and ultimately stunned Diaz with punches. Diaz fell to the ground and Thomson followed, landing several punches and hammer fists before the referee stepped in to put a stop to the contest 3:44 of the second round.
Diaz’s corner threw in the towel just after the ref stepped in, but did so just after the ref stepped in.
The TKO-loss is the first of Diaz’s career.
Brown TKOs Mein
Matt Brown opened up the main card for UFC on Fox 7 with a second-round technical knockout of Jordan Mein.
Brown was relentless in his attack, pushing the pace and forcing Mein to backpedal while taking in a number of strikes. The two went back and forth towards the end of the opening round, but Brown showed to be too much for his opponent, landing several elbows while Mein turtled up on the ground moments before the referee stopped the fight.
The finish came at 1:00 of the second frame.
Full Preliminary Fight Results:
- Chad Mendes def. Darren Elkins via TKO at 1:08, R1
- Francis Carmont def. Lorenz Larkin via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
- Myles Jury def. Ramsey Nijem via KO (Punch) at 1:02, R2
- Joseph Benavidez def. Darren Uyenoyama via TKO at 4:50, R2
- Jorge Masvidal def. Tim Means via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
- T.J. Dillashaw def. Hugo Viana at 4:22, R1
- Anthony Njokuani def. Roger Bowling at 2:52, R2
- Yoel Romero def. Clifford Starks via KO at 1:32, R1