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UFC on Fox 7 Aftermath: Nasty Finishes & A Disputed Decision

(Photo by Esther Lin | MMAFighting)

By Elias Cepeda 

UFC on Fox 7 was a violent and almost uniformly fought at a furious pace over the course of twelve preliminary and main card bouts. Eight bouts finished inside of the distance, and the main event was five close-fought, damaging rounds long.

Welterweights Matt Brown and Jordan Mein each got extra $50,000 bonus checks for putting on the fight of the night and Josh Thomson and Yoel Romero each got knockout of the night awards and 50k bonuses.

Thomson returned to the UFC in style by handing Nate Diaz his first ever stoppage loss – a second round TKO stoppage. Romero caught Clifford Starks with a flying knee and won a quick via quick TKO.

Neither Daniel Cormier nor Frank Mir won extra bonuses for their three-round heavyweight bout. Cormier did continue to show that he is a legitimate contender in the division, on the strength of his world-class wrestling skills and speed, despite being vastly undersized.

As they took the center of the Octagon, the smaller Cormier looked like he was facing his uncle in the large former two-time heavyweight champ Mir. Once Cormier got a hold of Mir, over and over again throughout the fight, it was the two-time Olympic wrestler that looked like a man fighting a child.

Cormier clinched with Mir, pressed him against the cage, let go and, on separation, unloaded nasty hooks and uppercuts to the head and body of Mir, along with elbows and knees before clinching back up and rinsing and repeating. As the fight wore on and Mir proved helpless against Cormier’s strategy, referee Herb Dean didn’t like Cormier’s dominance so he tried, as all refs disturbingly seem to be instructed to do, to give Mir more of a chance by breaking up the clinch work quickly but that couldn’t stop the wrestler from continuing to close the distance.

Mir would not be mentally broken despite eating big shots and being ground down, and he fought hard in the third round – throwing hard punches and knees. The ones that did connect, however, were absorbed by Cormier, and he just went back to pressing Mir against the cage and doing short striking work at will.

Cormier fought the smartest fight he could against a much larger, more experienced opponent. The cerebral fighter knew that the middle was his friend. Had he stayed out on the outside, Mir might have used his far superior reach to land big shots.

Had Cormier taken Mir down (he did so once, with a single leg, but did not follow Mir to the ground. Choosing instead, to let the Jiu Jitsu master stand up and eat an over hand right), he would have let the black belt do work where he was most comfortable and dangerous. So, Cormier did what he should have – control the clinch and then use his superior speed to land at will on separation.

I don’t know how long this lightweight/welterweight-heighted phenom will continue to be successful at heavyweight, but so far he can count two former UFC heavyweight champs as wins, as well as the #1 contender to the belt right now, Antonio Silva. It has been fun to watch Cormier figure out how to win fights at heavyweight.

But if his teammate Cain Velasquez stays champion of the division, maybe we’ll see him drop down at least one weight class and challenge there. He’ll either look even stronger there or will see his speed advantage over most opponents slip away.

Benson Wins Another Close Decision

At this point, UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson probably feels confident that he appeals to a wide cross-section of judges. He’s won seven consecutive decision in the UFC, his biggest bouts being the most closely-contested.

His number one contender’s fight with Clay Guida in 2011 was close but his two title wins over Frankie Edgar were even closer. Henderson pretty much controlled his late 2012 title defense against Diaz so there was no controversy in his winning that decision.

“Smooth” Henderson’s split decision Saturday night over Gilbert Melendez is probably the closest and most controversial win of the champ’s career, however. I scored both his fights with Edgar for Henderson, as well as his win over Guida. But Saturday’s main event looked like Melendez’ fight.

This writer can see the fantastic, competitive fight conceivably and reasonably being judged in either man’s favor, but the way I saw it was Gilbert clearly winning rounds one and two, and making a good case for himself in rounds three and, especially, five.

Melendez said after the fight that he was, understandably, heart-broken by the decision loss. It is probably little consolation but at least he showed that what he and his teammates have been saying for years as he labored outside of the UFC – that Melendez is at the very top of the sport’s best division – is true.

I didn’t imagine that Melendez would be able to match Henderson’s strength or deal with his speed or kicks, but he did just that – countering sharply, catching most of the champ’s knees and kicks, taking him down and landing his own inside leg kick time and time again. Melendez fought the fight of his life but came away empty-handed.

He finally made it to the UFC and showed that if he’s not the best lightweight in the world, it is, in political election terms, at least a statistical tie between he and one or two other guys. Melendez may not have a strap to show for his winning effort Saturday night, but at least more than a handful of fans got to watch him do what he does this time.


Cagepotato Comments

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peadardan- April 22, 2013 at 10:27 pm
up to I saw the draft for $5443, I accept best friend was like realie taking home money in their spare time on-line.. there friends cousin haz done this less than twenty months and just now repayed the mortgage on their place and got a great new Mitsubishi Evo. we looked here, FAB33.COM
whiterice- April 22, 2013 at 8:02 am
"catching most of the champ’s knees and kicks, taking him down and landing his own inside leg kick time and time again"

Gil didn't land nearly as many leg kicks as Henderson. Plus Melendez didn't do much with the ones he caught (which still landed!), he mostly backed him up. There were a couple sort of take downs, but little ground action.

I'm afraid I don't see the logic of what you're saying. I had Smooth 3 rounds out of 5.
gruge- April 22, 2013 at 2:09 am
How can you honestly think that GilMel won that fight?. Did you even see the stats?. Its was close, but not as close at Henderson V Edgar 2. On a side note, I really hope that we don't have another champ who just cruises to decision victories here. I enjoy a technical fight as much as the next guy, but it becomes predictable whats going to happen. Side note 2, Who honestly gives a shit about the Silva V St Pierre fight anymore?. St Pierre will be absolutely destroyed. Silva finishes every opponent he decides he has finished playing with, St Pierre hasn't finished anyone since BJ Penn in the BEGINNING of 2009. Not to mention Silva is much bigger. Just because they have been king of their respective divisions for so long, does not make it a fair fight. Sorry, off topic.
RwilsonR- April 21, 2013 at 10:14 pm
I think it's worth remembering that while Melendez was catching Henderson's kicks, the kicks were still landing. And outside of the couple times he was thrown off balance in the first, Henderson followed up the kicks with punches while his leg was in Gil's hands, while Melendez really didn't capitalize. I gave the first two to Gil., though the 2nd round was close. I had the third one pretty close in the middle of the round, but Bendo clearly took over at the end, and landed quite a bit more overall that round. Fourth was easily Henderson's round. Fifth started off much more Henderson, but was even near the end. More landed by Henderson that round, but more effective shots from Gil. Kinda disappointing lack of action in the last 30 seconds of the 5th. I was hoping one of them would lay it out there and go crazy. Henderson seemed thrown off his game by having his kicks caught. Never seen Gil fight so disciplined and with so much of a gameplan. I don't think it was a bad decision at all, except that split decisions are never great to have. A bad decision was the one in Henderson vs Edgar 2, not here.
beetle_tits- April 21, 2013 at 8:26 pm
i have to say, i have never seen so many shitty opinions lumped onto one page. good job boys,keep up the good work.
CWill859- April 21, 2013 at 5:54 pm
Bendo wins decisions (outside of Pettis, obv). That much is known. But for someone who is so great, I can't name one single thing that he does exceptionally well. I hate to say it, but it makes me appreciate what Jon Jones has done at LHW. The man finishes fights, leaving no room for discrepancies. Being a champ is overrated when u consistently can't finish a fight. He's losing his fan base one decision at a time. IMO
Mr_Misanthropy- April 21, 2013 at 4:45 pm
This card was another example of what hungry motivated fighters can do. It's funny to think about all the people complaining about no-names filling up all the cards but those are the guys that consistently deliver the goods. I understand that A lot of the best guys win a lot because they are very calculating and concerned with winning, that two very high level calculating guys will cancel each other out a bit, and that there is a lot more on the line when you are fighting for one of the upper slots. If you want the solid action get two dudes with nothing to lose and everything to gain in there and that's usually when the shit goes down.
Spitting into the wind- April 21, 2013 at 4:31 pm
Im in no way Hendersons biggest fan but I thought he won the fight fairly convincingly. I believe he was gifted 2 decisions over Edgar especially in the 2nd fight which was a travesty of justice, I believe he was gifted a decision in the first Cerrone fight, but i think this was a clean win. I mean i can see a case for Melendez maybe winning rd 1 and at a stretch maybe round 5 but i thought Henderson took 2,3 and 4.
It was a great card despite Cormiers attempts to suck all the life out of the venue with his stifling lean and grind. He may have won but so what? He wont fight Cain and needs a victory at light heavy b4 being considered in that weight class.
Clyde- April 21, 2013 at 2:38 pm
I really was surprised by it. I kept seeing the striking numbers coming up in Benson's favor, but it just didn't look like that was what was happening in the fight. Melendez definitely is deserving of a rematch. I say they go Gracie vs Sakuraba and it just goes until someone finishes, or is finished.
CWill859- April 21, 2013 at 2:36 pm
No love for Myles Jury. That KO was sick. As for the main event, I gave Gil 1 and 5, but I think Bendo did just barely enough to take the fight. But it was rather ironic that Thomson KO'd Nate when Bendo couldn't rock him in 5 rounds.
Casa de los pantelones- April 21, 2013 at 12:47 pm
Great, another mini GSP with all these decisions. But, at the end of the day, if you can't beat the champ and you let him take you to decision...that's your fault. Melendez looked good for the 1st 2 rounds, after that he had nothing.
cman- April 21, 2013 at 11:23 am
I saw Melendez win 1, either 2, and Henderson the rest of it. And then I saw the striking stats and realized it could have been a bendo sweep.
Melendez was tougher than I thought and by far made the best 209 showing in a championship fight, but when you look at what's actually landing I think Gil puts on a heck of a show for the judges but doesn't land much.
To be fair I thought the same when Thompson was robbed in their last fight.
Anyone else wish bendo would get a haircut already?
algiersheadkick504- April 21, 2013 at 11:20 am
And Melendez won that shit...sad year for team Caesar Gracie
algiersheadkick504- April 21, 2013 at 11:19 am
One or two more solid knees or bodykicks by Mir and think he could have dropped Cormier...dude fought smart was just boring
BaghdadBob- April 21, 2013 at 11:13 am
I like Cormier as a person but the only thing phenomenal about that fight is how he turned into a non-fight. That shit was even worse than watching three rounds of wrestle-fucking on the ground. Yeah, yeah, I know it takes skill to work the cage but you know what? That doesn't make it a fight and it sure as hell doesn't make it interesting to watch.