Tonight at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, top-ranked lightweight contender Gilbert Melendez will finally get his chance to prove himself in the Octagon — with Benson Henderson‘s belt on the line — while undefeated phenom Daniel Cormier will attempt to justify his own swelling hype in a heavyweight matchup with Frank Mir. Add in all the other UFC vs. Strikeforce matchups, and you basically have MMA’s version of the Sharks vs. the Jets, but with the dance steps replaced by middle fingers in your got-damn face. So will the latest batch of Strikeforce crossovers make the grade or will they go up in smoke?
Taking you through the action tonight is our good friend Elias Cepeda, who’s giving us round-by-round results from the UFC on FOX 7 main card broadcast after the jump beginning at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT. Refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest, and share your own thoughts in the comments section.
Matt Brown vs. Jordan Mein
Matt Brown starts out feinting with the jab. Both men keep a respectful distance with one another. Jordan lands a standing elbow, Brown lands with two glancing punches, backing up Mein.
Brown pressing forward on Mein, hurting the kid. Mein shows good composure, slipping, ducking and circling away. Brown still follows, swinging wildly. Mein lands back with a right, then a left. Mein getes tagged, loses his balance and mouthpiece and falls. He is back up quickly.
Mein gets his mouth guard back in his mouth after referee John McCarthy stops the action. Brown gets back in Mein’s face with punches and a head kick. Most are dodged or blocked. Brown bleeding over his right eye. Brown with a right hand that hurts Mein. Mein waiting and swinging back once for every ten punches from Brown. Mein lands a big right hand!
Brown clinches up and lands several big knees to the body of Mein. Two minutes left in this wild fight. Mein lands a two punch combo. Mein lands a left to the liver of Brown and drops him!
Matt his face first on the floor in pain. Mein follows up with a choke attempt, then strikes on the ground. Brown is visibly pained and hurt from the body shot. He survives Mein’s onslaught of punches and elbows to the body and face on the ground. Brown slaps on a triangle choke!
Mein escapes! Brown with a knee to what looks to be Mein’s throat. He follows up with punches. Mein is hurt badly. Brown lands a nasty elbow to Mein’s head as the horn sounds.
Brown pushes forward again, lands a huge right hand, then a knee, then a right elbow. Mein falls to the ground. Brown looks for a front choke, lets it go. Mein is on his back, rolls up to all fours. Brown posts on Mein’s head and lands another pointed elbow to the kid’s head. He continues with elbows to the body. His onslaught continues until the referee calls it off.
Nate Diaz vs. Josh Thomson
Nate is the heavy crowd favorite here in this Bay area match up. Let’s get it on.
Nate trying to keep his distance with punches as Thomson gets to work with a lead roundhouse leg kick to compensate for his reach disadvantage. Josh switching his stances and keeping his head movement. Thomson punches Nate’s lead leg then goes high with a rear right head kick that lands flush on the side of Diaz’ dome!
Two minutes in, Nate begins the taunting and lands a long,lead left punch. Thomson fakes another leg punch and again goes high with a right head kick that lands flush again!
Thomson almost exclusively kicking. Thomson gets a clinch, Diaz forces Thomson against the cage. Diaz using his head until Thomson reverses positions and then separates. Thomson gets behind Diaz and unloads with punches to the back of Diaz’ head.
The two exchange punch flurries on the inside. Thomson moving calmly and looking to explode with his superior speed ont he ground. Diaz stalking. Thomson lands a big left and right punch, Diaz clinches up. With just over thirty seconds left, Thomson gets a take down and falls into Diaz’ full guard. Thomson gets busy right away, opening up the guard and landing elbows. Diaz turtles up and gets to his feet.
Diaz swarms with hooks and they clinch up. Diaz apparently lands a low knee to Thomson’s sack. He gets time to recover, doesn’t take much of it.
Diaz takes the center of the cage, taunting, while Thomson switches up his stance and initiates another clinch. Thomson works to the side of Diaz, pushing him against the cage, landing an elbow and knee. Diaz briefly reverses positions but Thomson takes control back and backs Diaz against the cage again.
Diaz separates. He is bleeding above his right eye. Nate lands a take down! Thomson sits up and cage walks back to his feet immediately. Diaz looks for a standing guillotine but Thomson gets out.
Diaz stalking in the center of the ring again, Thomson circling away from Diaz’ power. Thomson lands another right head kick! This one is full shin on head, as opposed to the first one which was all foot. This one hurt Diaz badly. He stumbles backwards, wobbly. Thomson lands a straight punch, then another that drops Nate.
Thomson jumps all over Diaz with punches and finishes the fight. Wow.
Going low and then finishing high really paid off for Thomson this fight. What a return to the UFC for ‘The Punk.’
Frank Mir. Vs. Daniel Cormier
Mir with an old school Jiu Jitsu push kick. Cormier staying on the outside. Mir kicking a lot, all air, fora guy facing an elite wrestler. Mir with a left knee to the body of Cormier. Cormier eats it and presses Mir against the clinch, using head position to control the much larger opponent.
Cormier with a front head lock into a knee. Cormier unloads with hooks that back up and hurt Mir. Cormier’s speed advantage is as evident as Mir’s size at this point. Cormier pressing Mir up against the cage, throwing in body shorts on separation, then clinching back up with a head and arm Thai plum type of control.
Cormier letting go of the clinch and lands more punches – upper cuts to the body and head. Cormier lands an elbow on separation and gets kneed accidentally in the groin. Referee Herb Dean doesn’t see it and they continue. Cormier gets the clinch again and presses Mir back up against the cage, unleashes another flurry.
Cormier swings and whiffs with a head kick and falls on his back. Mir pounces and goes for a front choke but Cormier stands and escapes. Mir says something to Cormier and smiles.
The horn sounds and Cormier touches gloves with Mir.
Mir lands a tepid read round house leg kick. Cormier does a standing, jumping kick thing that misses Mir completely. Cormier clinches up with Mir again and presses him against the cage. He works some dirty close shots and uses up more of the clock without Mir being able to mount any offense. Smart game plan.
Cormier separates and then quickly clinches up again. Cormier presses Mir against the cage, mixing in a left elbow and a right upper cut to the gut. Cormier separates. Mir thinks to pull guard and a guillotine choke but Cormier gets away.
Cormier clinches up and pushes Mir against the cage again. He separates and lands a big right uppercut to the jaw of Mir. Mir wades in with punches that miss. Cormier counters with one-two that hurts Mir. Cormier follows up with a right body shot.
Herb Dean breaks up Cormier’s next clinch up just two seconds into it; allowing either the crowd or misguided Athletic Commission mandates from above.
Mir comes out aggressive, gets Cormier against the cage but Cormier regains control and presses him against the cage. Mir gets free and comes back aggressively with kicks and knees, giving Cormier pause. Cormier looks stunned from the body shots but still gets control back and presses against the fence.
Mir gets free but Cormier slips under and behind and unloads with hooks. Cormier gets the clinch back and presses Mir against the cage again. Dean breaks them up.
Both men are justifiably fatigued and circle each other for a while. Cormier gets the clinch and gets a single leg take down. He does not follow the dangerous submission artist to the floor, choosing instead to stand up and let Mir back to his feet. Once Mir is back on his feet, Cormier throws a big over hand right.
Cormier gets the clinch again, working short shots. He slips under Frank’s left arm and gets to the back but Dean breaks them up again.
The two clinch up again and the fight ends there.
Decision time up next. Cormier wins a unanimous decision.
Cormier adds another former UFC heavyweight champion to his list of victories. Will he continue to campaign at heavyweight, where his friend and training partner Cain Velasquez is champion? Or will the guy with the welterweight height decide to drop down and dethrone Chael Sonnen as light heavyweight champion?
The main event up next, taters!
Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez
Henderson begins the fight bouncing around, moving his head in his south paw stance. Gilbert lands a leg kick to Henderson’s lead leg. Melendez with a left hook, leg kick combo. The kick landed. Henderson lands a straight left.
Gilbert catches a kick from Benson and takes him down. Gilbert presses down, goes into Henderson’s guard. Bendo backs up on his but towards the cage and ultimately cage walks back up to his feet. As soon as he does, Melendez lands a knee to the head.
Henderson swings and misses with a jab-hook combo. Henderson throws another leg kick that Gilbert catches. He tries to take Henderson down again but Benson hops backwards and defends. As his back touches the cage, Gilbert lets loose a fling knee to the body.
Both are back in the center of the ring, shortly. Gilbert with another, missed-hook-leg kick landing combo. Henderson lands a knee to the body of Gilbert, Gilbert catches it and takes Henderson down. He follows up with a flying knee to the body of the downed Henderson! Henderson gets back to his feet.
Gilbert catches another leg kick from Henderson, fires a straight right down the pipe while holding the right leg and takes Henderson down again at the horn.
Benson comes out feinting a lot with his jab and hook. Gilbert lands with another leg kick after a left hook feint and follows with an over hand right that also lands. Gilbert catches another kick from Henderson but can’t take him down. Melendez follows up with more punches that back up and glance Henderson.
Another left hook feint into leg kick landed for Gilbert. Benson with a knee to the body landed. Benson initiates a clinch but Gilbert pushes away. Benson lands another knee to the body but Gilbert catches it afterwards. Henderson defends the ensuing take down attempt, however.
Henderson with a lead jab to the leg of Melendez. Nice straight two-one from Henderson that glances Melendez. Henderson with a head kick that glances on Melendez.
Henderson shoots for a double on Gilbert, who defends. Gilbert with another leg kick landed.
The two bounce around and measure one another until the horn. Gilbert may have stolen another round from the champion.
Night two-one punch combo from Henderson off the bat! Melendez fires right back and lands with a cross! Melendez with another landed inside leg kick off of the hook feint.
Henderson lowers his rear round house leg kick and knocks Gilbert down with it! Gilbert right back on his feet. Melendez connects with a right hand and stuns Henderson. Another right hand from Melendez!
Henderson gets off of the fence, fires a two-punch combo and then shoots for a double. He presses Gilbert against the cage, working for the double. Gilbert gets down to one knee but stands back up. They are standing and clinching, the champ with knees, Melendez with punches on separation.
Henderson comes up short on a front face kick. Henderson fires a straight, Melendez hooks and misses, Henderson ducks under and shoots for a double but is completely stuffed by Melendez! Henderson is on his ass but gets right back.
The two fire away at each other up along the fence after separating from a nasty clinch with Henderson working under hooks and Melendez pressing down on the champ’s face. Melendez lands a punch to the body.
With a few seconds left in the round, Henderson throws a leg kick that knocks both he and Melendez down. Henderson is quicker to his feet and cross-sides Melendez. The champ senses time running out and unloads with strikes on Melendez.
Time runs out and the champion is still punching! The ref lifts Henderson up and away from Melendez!
Both men get a warning for head butts. Melendez fires a straight, Henderson ducks under and shoots. Gilbert stuffs it.
Henderson lands a body kick, Gilbert catches it. The champ gets free. He throws a knee to the body, Gilbert catches it but again the champ gets free. Henderson with a slapping leg kick.
Another kick from Henderson, a body knee from the challenger. Gilbert sprawls out on a take down attempt and Henderson hustles up to his feet and swarms Gilbert with punches, none landing big.
Lead side kick to Gilbert’s leg from the champ. Another. Both men go for a leg kick, Henderson’s lands flusher and knocks Melendez down. Henderson jumps on him in a flash and takes his back with no hooks in!
Melendez defends the choke, stands and gets free. Gilbert stalks the champ and feints with jabs. Gilbert lands a hook to the body, then an upper cut to the body. He catches a kick from Henderson but the champ gets free. On separation, the champ lands a right hand.
Henderson takes the center of the cage and throws a body kick that Gilbert catches and releases. Rogan points out that Gilbert’s right shoulder looks jacked…is it the shoulder he was out injured with? I can’t remember. Regardless, he fights on.
Big over hand right lands for Gilbert. Benson circles away. Both men feinting, waiting to explode. Three minutes left.
Inside leg kick from the champ, then another after a short left elbow lands. Gilbert stalking Henderson but not able to land anything. Another short elbow from Henderson.
Henderson not landing much, but landing more in this round. Countering with speed and precision on occasion on his stalking challenger. Gilbert catches another knee from Henderson and follows up with a punch.
He stalks Henderson after the champ gets away and lands a flying knee to the body of the champ as he’s pressed against the cage. Henderson circling away, ducking under as Gilbert continues to stalk him. The crowd roars with under a minute left. Gilbert lands a left hook to the head of Henderson. Henderson with another elbow. Melendez with a body shot.
Melendez ends the final round appearing to have evened up the strike score in the stanza and as the man that pushed the action most of the period and fight. Horn sounds. Decision coming up next.
48-47 Melendez. 48-47 Henderson. The tie-breaking judge scores it 48-47 for Benson Henderson.
The defending champion stays undefeated and immediately deflects attention from any possible controversy by proposing to his girl friend. Who, despite thousands of booing fans surrounding them, says yes.
“It was a tough fight…I know how tough Gilbert Melendez is…I love those guys, the Skrap Pack. They bring it every single time,” the champion tells Rogan.
Thanks for partying with us, nation. What do you think of the decision? I think Gilbert clearly won the first two rounds and probably closed rounds three and/or five strong enough to get one more round and earn the win.
Chael Sonnen says that he feels Gilbert won the first three rounds and so does Brian Stann. So, there’s that.