“Smooth” Benson Henderson came into hostile territory to defend his title and escaped San Jose with the lightweight title and a future Mrs. Henderson.
While it took a split decision with two of the judges scoring it three rounds to two for the champ the other judge saw it as three to two but for the former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez. It was an ultra close fight with Melendez clearly taking round one and Henderson clearly taking round four other than that it really could have gone either way.
Melendez started out setting the pace early in the fight. Melendez was able to catch a good chunk of the kicks that came to the body. Henderson used a stepping elbow over and over through out the fight and seemed to switch from the body kicks that were being caught to knees. Henderson did work the jab as Melendez would close the distance but the stats that were being showed through out the fight clearly showed it was all Henderson as he out struck Melendez and out kicked by a huge advantage. Part of it being so deceiving was that Melendez spent most of the time as the man coming forward bringing the fight to the champ.
In what turned out to be a great fight I hope to see a rematch of but not too soon; as it is getting tiresome of having the champions tied up with the same opponents and jamming up the rest of the division. After the scores are read the HP Pavilion showed their displeasure in the verdict and showered Henderson with boos. As Rogan tried to get the post fight interview Henderson stopped him got the ring from one of his corner men, dropped to a knee and purposed to his girlfriend who had joined him in the cage. She of course said “yes” which momentarily stopped some of the crowd from booing but only long enough to give a real quick applause before the boos erupted in full force again.
The big men had their opportunity in the cage as Daniel Cormier finally got to get his hands on Frank Mir. In a match up between the two time Olympic wrestler and one of the greatest UFC submission artist ever it was all Cormier in this fight. In what seemed like a highlight of Hall of Famer Randy Couture fights Cormier stacked Mir up against the cage he put all his weight on Mir, he dirty boxed him and kneed him. This technique was very successful as Mir was helpless against it for three rounds and Cormier took the unanimous decision 30-27 on all three of the judges scorecards.
Josh Thomson made it a successful return to the UFC where he had gone 2-1 during 2003 and 2004. Also in the process Thomson became the first person to ever stop Nate Diaz at any weight. Thomson started off the fight with switching stances over and over while landing the leg kick to keep Diaz from using his range. Diaz ate a pair of head kicks from Thomson, the first he smiled and ate while the second turned out to be the end of his night. Diaz tried to duck under the one in the second but all he did was put the side of his head directly inline with the shin of Thomson. Thomson swarmed and pounded away as but the ref gave Diaz a chance before he jumped in but eventually had to bring it to a stop and he did so as you see the towel fly into the cage from Diaz’s corner.
In the first fight of the evening for the FOX portion of the broadcast “The Immortal” Matt Brown came out and showed the occasional fans who watch the free events exactly what it is that he does. He makes a fight a brawl! He swarmed one of the top welterweight prospects Jordan Mein right from the beginning as he usually does and never backed off. Brown chased Mein lunging at him with punches as he did so. Mein landed some sharp elbows when they were in close and even dropping Brown with a body shot. Brown the ever wise veteran immediately latched on to a leg of Mein and pulled him in close while threatening a triangle choke while he cleared the cobb webs. At the beginning of round 2 Brown swarms once again and brutalizes Mein as he pounds away on a turtled up Mein with elbows to the side of the head then standing over him elbowing his back till “Big John” McCarthy steps in at 1 min of round 2. That is what Brown does he wants to stand and punch till some one drops and with someone like Mein who uses more technique it really can pull them out of their game.