By Jaime C. Feal
A busy month for the UFC continued with an excellent free card on Fox Saturday night, giving fans a title fight for the main event. Starting off the main card on Fox, Matt “The Immortal” Brown stopped Jordan “Young Gun” Mein with a hard knee and follow up strikes in the first round. Next up, Nate Diaz was knocked out for the first time in the Octagon by Josh “The Punk” Thompson. In the co-main event, Daniel Cormier beat Frank Mir by decision in a contest that should have produced a lot more fireworks. Finally, the UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson retained his title, barely, edging Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez by decision.
Lightweight Division (155 lbs.):
Nate Diaz (16-8, 11-6 UFC) vs. Josh “The Punk” Thomson (19-5, 2-1 UFC)
Thomson lands a leg kick, as Diaz stalks forward. Thomson lands more leg kicks, then a huge head kick, but Diaz eats it. Diaz still walking forward, lands a jab and one-two. The smack talking has already begun, as Diaz has his hands down and is jawing at Thomson. Another head kick lands for Thomson. Diaz initiates a clinch, lands some knees. Thomson spins him, and then breaks free. Big right hand lands for Thomson. Good punches landing for Thomson, Diaz still moving forward. Diaz eats another right hand counter, gets taken down. Thomson on top landing ground and pound. Diaz gets to his feet, flicks Thomson off. 10-9 round for Thomson.
Diaz charges forward and lands some hooks. Diaz clinches up and lands a knee to the groin, fight stopped for a low blow. Ref deems it unintentional, replay confirms. Fight restarts, Diaz talking again, hands down. The lightweights start trading hooks, both landing. Diaz gets a takedown. Diaz lands some solid punches as Thomson gets up, Diaz goes for a guillotine but Thomson escapes. Nice jab from Diaz. The fighters tie up again, Thomson scoring with short elbows. Thomson lands another huge headkick, this one rocks Diaz bad. Diaz staggers backwards, Thomson comes in for the kill. Two big right hands drop Diaz who turtles up. Thomson lands several more hard shots before the ref is forced to come in and stop it. Nate Diaz has been stopped for the first time in his UFC career.
Josh Thomson wins by TKO at 3:44 of Round 2.
Heavyweight Division (265 lbs.):
Frank Mir (16-6, 14-6 UFC) vs. Daniel “DC” Cormier (11-0, 0-0 UFC)
Mir throwing kicks and missing to start. Cormier stalking forward. Knee to the body by Mir, then DC ties him up against the cage. Nasty uppercut by DC from the clinch. Mir handles it well. DC lands a big knee and some hard hooks. The power and speed of Cormier is massive. DC again presses Mir up against the cage. More nasty shots to the body and head by Cormier. Now big knees from Cormier, doing significant work in the clinch. Mir is just covering up now and eating right hands to the body and head. These shots are wearing bad on Mir. Elbow from Cormier, then they break. Good right hand from Mir, DC clinches again. Dirty boxing from Cormier, and knees mixed in. Cormier throws a head kick and misses. DC slips down from the miss, Mir tries to grab his neck. DC breaks free. Heavy inside leg kick by Cormier. 10-9 round for Cormier.
Nice leg kick by Mir. Cormier tries a flying kick and misses. DC ducks under a punch, and gets the double underhooks. DC again has Mir pressed up against the cage. Cormier doing more work in the clinch. The fighters break, DC lands a couple punches, back to the clinch. Cormier backs away. They clinch up again, and Cormier pushes him to the fence. Herb Dean has to keep warning Cormier to work. DC lands a good uppercut. Good knee to the body from Mir. Another series of uppercuts land for Cormier. Mir responds nicely with a couple punches. DC tags Mir with more hard punches to the body and head to finish the round. 10-9 round for Cormier.
Leg kick from Mir, scramble and again they clinch. Nasty right hands from Cormier wobble Mir. DC doesn’t pounce, Mir recovers and lands some hard kicks. Cormier spins around on Mir and lands more shots to the head. Back to the clinch position, crowd grows restless. Ref Herb Dean breaks the heavyweights off the cage due to inactivity. Nice kick to the body by Mir. Cormier grabs him, gets a takedown, lets him up. Back to the clinch, again ref breaks them. Cormier rides out the round. Not his best performance. 10-9 round for Cormier.
All three judges score the fight 30-27 for the winner by unanimous decision Daniel “DC” Cormier.
UFC Lightweight Championship (155 lbs.):
Benson “Smooth” Henderson (18-2, 6-0 UFC) vs. Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez (21-2, 0-0 UFC)
Both fighters begin by measuring the range and pawing with the jab. Neither finding the mark thus far, more of a positional battle on the feet. Inside leg kick for Melendez. Outside leg kick lands for Henderson. Nice inside leg kick again by “El Niño.” Henderson lands a hard straight left. Outside leg kick for Henderson, then when the throws another it is caught by Gilbert. Ben Henderson gets taken down, Melendez on top, pushes him up to the cage. Melendez holding on to Henderson’s legs. Benson gets back to his feet, eats a knee in the process. Gilbert catches another kick, lands a flying knee to the body. Henderson clinches up with him on the cage. Henderson landing light knee strikes. Melendez breaks free, lands a left hook on the break. Hard outside leg kick by Henderson. Inside leg kick from Melendez. Good combo by Gilbert, lands an inside leg kick and a hook. Another kick is caught by Melendez, lands a hrd knee to the body on the scramble. Inside leg kick from Henderson. Nice counter hooks from “El Niño.” 10-9 round for Melendez.
Melendez landing punches and an inside leg kick to start. Henderson clearly losing the fight thus far. Every time Henderson throws a body kick, Melendez catches it. Straight right hand for Melendez. Inside leg kick for Melendez. Big knee for Henderson. Knee to the body for Benson. Good left hand from Henderson. Melendez lands an inside leg kick and an overhand right. Inside leg kick lands for “El Niño.” Henderson has been backing away for most of this fight now. The lightweights exchange hooks that both land. Elbows and knees landing for the champion now. Henderson pressing forward. Good counter right from Melendez. 10-9 round for Melendez.
Henderson lands a jab, Melendez with the counter right hook. Crowd begins to chant “El Niño” as he lands an inside leg kick. Good left hook from Melendez. Henderson lands two hard outside leg kicks, then a nice combination of punches. Right hand by Melendez, and another straight right a short time later. Back and forth fight in Round 3. Henderson goes got a takedown. Benson eventually gets him down, Melendez trying to wall walk up. Melendez shrugs off a takedown attempt. Body kick by Henderson. They clinch again and muscle for position. Hard counter elbow from Henderson off an inside leg kick from Melendez. Benson lands a hard outside leg kick that sends both fighters to the mat. Henderson jumps on top and lands a couple nice elbows to end the round. 10-9 round for Henderson.
Body kick by Henderson, then an inside leg kick. Henderson with a knee, avoids being taken down. Outside leg kick for Henderson. Melendez sprawls nicely on a takedown attempt from the champ. Good combo from the challenger. Henderson takes the back in a scramble, lands a couple shots, Back on the feet, Henderson is controlling the pace, landing more now. Gilbert Melendez has given away the last two rounds. Good hooks to the body from Melendez, big right hand to the head. Nice elbow from Henderson. 10-9 round for Henderson.
Henderson scoring with kicks, Melendez not doing much. Inside leg kick scores for Benson. Straight right to the body by Melendez, misses on follow up punches. Inside leg kick for Henderson, then the standing elbow again. Melendez misses with some punches. Good hook from Melendez lands with ninety seconds left. Flying knee to the body lands for “El Niño.” Melendez connects with an uppercut and a right hand. Nice counter left from Melendez. Elbow by Henderson. Straight right for Melendez. 10-9 round for Henderson.
The judges score the fight 48-47, 47-48, and 48-47 for the winner by split decision, and still the UFC lightweight champion of the world, Benson “Smooth” Henderson.