Saturday night’s UFC 166 fight card from the sold out Toyota Center in Houston, Texas was easily the best event so far this year, packed with devastating finishes and entertaining fights, including one of the greatest battles in UFC history.
But Cain Velasquez stole the show, establishing himself as arguably the greatest heavyweight the UFC has ever seen, battering Junior dos Santos for a second consecutive outing, defending the heavyweight title in the third fight in this tremendous trilogy.
In the co-main event of the evening, Velasquez’ teammate Daniel Cormier earned a clean sweep of the scorecards, using his improved striking and outstanding wrestling to dominate Roy Nelson on the way to a unanimous decision win.
One fight earlier, Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez delivered arguably the best fight in UFC history, going toe-to-toe for 15 minutes, with "El Nino" earning the victory in what is sure to be Fight of the Year.
Check out the all the fight-by-fight, round-by-round, blow-by-blow action from UFC 166 below.
Cain Velasquez (12-1) vs. Junior dos Santos (16-2)
Herb Dean with the main event assignment.
JDS with a big shot right out of the gate and Velasquez is wobbly. The champ in on a single, now grabs a guillotine, but JDS slips out. Right hand lands for Cain. Another power shot from JDS connects. We’ve got ourselves a fight, folks! Cain into the clinch along the cage, throwing short rights. Cain presses in again, trying to grab a takedown, dos Santos defending. Knee from Cain lands to the body. Headkick attempt from JDS misses. Cain in on the hips, JDS defending. Knees to the thigh from Cain. Two minutes down. More needs from Velasquez, and he spins him to the ground. Full mount, but JDS clears it quickly. Back to half guard. Cain stands, climbs over the knee to half on the other side. Elbow from the champion. Two minutes left. Velasquez looks to climb to mount, JDS rolls, Cain takes his back. Knee to the body as JDS stands, and Cain is relentless on another takedown. 90 seconds. Body lock for Cain. Uppercut glances off JDS’ brow. Inside uppercuts from Cain. Body shots follow. Knee to the body. 30 seconds. JDS tries to push his way out, not happening. Knees to the thigh from Cain, to the body from dos Santos, and the round ends.
10-9 Velasquez: his pace and grinding style is already tiring dos Santos out. He needs to avoid the big shots, but this is starting out like the last fight.
Cain comes forward quickly, backs JDS into the cage, lands a left hook. Kick from JDS. Cain in for the single, dumps him, JDS right back up. He doesn’t get off the cage, and Cain right back in. Knees to the thigh from Cain, controlling the body of the challenger. JDS with his hands down, dodging shots, but again, he doesn’t get off the cage, and Cain is back in on the grind. They break and circle, Cain stalking. Left hands land for the champ, and he’s into the clinch again. Knee to the body. Two minutes down. Knee to the thigh from Cain. JDS pushes off and circles to the center. Cain right back in, driving into the cage. JDS pushes off, Cain right back in. Knees to the thigh from Cain. Two minutes left. JDS with a hip toss, right hand from Cain as they stand. And again. Back on the cage once more. JDS has no answer to this pace and position. 90 seconds. Knees to the thigh. Knee to the body from JDS. Cain backs off, and gets back in on a leg, bails, and is back on the body. Knees to the thigh. Cain is relentless. Right hand from JDS. Another. Neither land flush, and Cain closes the space, pressing into the cage again. Left from Cain, and again. Right over the top from JDS at the end of the frame.
10-9 Velasquez, 20-18 through Round 2: Repeat of Round 1, with JDS offering fewer big shots, and having no answers to the clinch game of the champion.
Right hand connects for JDS, and Cain drives him into the cage. JDS looks for space, left hand lands from Cain, and he’s into the clinch again. Right hand from Cain. Returned from JDS. Clinched. Knees to the thigh from Cain, working both sides. Right hands up top from Cain. Left uppercut lands for Cain. JDS getting bloodied. Elbow lands for the challenger, but Cain is undeterred. Knee to the body from JDS. They break, big swing from JDS. Cain just keeps pressing forward, driving into the cage. Jab lands for Cain. Kick attempt from JDS. Takedown stuffed by JDS. Crowd booing now a little. Big right hand lands hard, drops JDS. Cain pounding away. JDS gets up, another shot, and JDS falls to the ground. Herb Dean almost stops it, but lets them continue. JDS back to his feet, not out of danger. Cain just misses with a headkick. Velasquez not wasting punches or expending too much energy; he’s measured, patient, Left hand lands. Uppercut lands. Right hand lands. JDS still standing. 30 seconds. Left hand, right on the chin follows. 10 seconds. JDS is in zombie mode here.
10-8 Velasquez, 30-26 Velasquez through Round 3: The near finish and complete domination warrants the decisive score in that frame. Not sure how JDS stayed up through all that.
Doctor checks on JDS between rounds – he says he’s good, and we’re moving to the championship rounds. And Cain is fresh as can be by comparison.
Left hook lands for JDS, but Cain comes forward through it, landing a right, backing JDS into the fence. Cain steps off, lands a right, and JDS is wobbled again. Flurry from the champ, JDS covering up. Cain on the body lock. Short rights up top. Left hand staggers JDS again, right follows. Cain not going for broke here – taking his time, letting the KO come, and it feels like it’s only a matter of time. Knee to the body. Right up top. Cain backs into space, lands three stiff shots, and ducks under a big right swing from JDS. Elbow on the left side from Cain. Halfway point. Back on the fence. Right hand lands for JDS as they break. Kick from Cain. Right hand from JDS. Uppercut connects for JDS, and Cain gets in on the body. Two minutes. Elbow from Cain. Again. JDS bleeding heavily, wiping blood from his eyes. Both are covered in crimson. Time is called – checking the cut and swelling around JDS’ eyes. Cain ducks under a big right hand. Jab lands for JDS. Right from Cain, followed by a knee, and right back into the clinch. Short elbow from JDS. Left hand from the challenger, but Cain just pushes right back in. JDS keeps wiping at the blood around his eye. Left hook from JDS. Cain keeps coming forward. Elbow from the champ. Knee to the body from JDS. HORN!
10-9 Velasquez, 40-35 Velasquez through Round 4: JDS had some nice moments late in the frame, but Velasquez controlled position, and was measuring him early with power shots that went unanswered.
Final round set to start. Doctor checking JDS – we’re continuing.
Left hand from JDS. A big right lands. Cain with the single, drags JDS to the ground. Triangle attempt from JDS, but not there. Cain on his back as JDS tries to stand. He makes it up, Cain smothering him. Short left from Cain. Rights up top from Cain. Again. Again. Again. Cain tries to spin him down, JDS defends. More short rights up top. Again. Short elbow inside from JDS. Two down, three to go. More rights upstairs from Cain. Knee from JDS. Left hand from Cain. Big right hand lands for the champ. Two minutes. JDS looking for anything, tries to drag Cain down with a D’arce Choke, and hits his head on the canvas. Before Cain can fire off a shot, Herb Dean waves it off. The champ retains in impressive fashion!
Official Result: Cain Velasquez defeats Junior dos Santos by Technical Knockout at 3:09 of Round 5.
Analysis: Velasquez is a wrecking machine, and has no equal at this point. He ate some big shots and just kept coming forward, grinding JDS into submission in every facet. His conditioning is crazy. JDS has incredible heart, but he was outclassed for a second time here.
That’s it for the live blog, but stay tuned to FoxSports.com for more coverage of UFC 166.
Daniel Cormier (12-0) vs. Roy Nelson (19-8)
Jacob Montalvo with the assignment here.
They meet in the center, and Nelson starts walking Cormier down. Both feinting, neither throwing. Jab from Cormier hits, in on a single behind it, takes Nelson down with ease. Into guard, one butterfly in for Nelson. Cormier off to side control, head and leg cradle. Nelson to his butt, trying to stand, Cormier keeps him down, throws some rights. Nelson kicks him off, Cormier right back in. Nelson stands, Cormier with over/under control, takes him right back down. Nelson stands, eats a knee. Cormier looking for the takedown again, Nelson defending with the kimura attempt. Cormier gives up the single, Nelson gives up the kimura, and Cormier completes another brief takedown. Nelson up, but Cormier is smothering him physically. Knee to the body from Cormier. Right from Nelson over the top, countered from Cormier. Knee to the body. Second one lands low, and time is called. Nelson shaking it off, and we’re back at it. Kick from Cormier is blocked. One minute left. Jab from Cormier, Nelson offers a right, but misses. Nelson looking for the overhand fastball. Misses again. Cormier with right of his own, followed by a left. Lands the same combination again, and then ducks a winging right at the horn.
10-9 Cormier: too fast, too strong, too much grappling skill. Nelson is tired, and he’s just slinging the right that everyone sees coming.
Jab from Nelson lands. Cormier ducking out of the way from Nelson’s swings. Slips a right hand. Nelson just misses with the uppercut. Nelson stepping in behind double jabs. Leg kick from Cormier. Left hand misses from Cormier. Push kick to the body. Right hand glances for Nelson. Right hand lands for Cormier, followed by a left, and now he’s in on the fence. Knee to the body. Nelson pushes him off, eats a right, and Cormier gets deep on a single, drags him down. Nelson up, lands a right, but Cormier is right back after him along the cage. Halfway home. Nelson looking at a guillotine, Cormier pulls his head out. Uppercut connects for Cormier, and again. Knee from Cormier. Nelson gets off the fence, looks for the right, not there. 90 seconds. Right-left combo lands clean for Cormier. Nelson throwing singles, you can see them all coming. One minute. Jab from Cormier, left from Nelson. Outside leg kick from Cormier. Kick from Nelson. Right hand from Cormier. 30 seconds. Front kick from Cormier, and then a switch kick. Hook to the body, one up top, and right down the pipe to finish.
10-9 Cormier, 20-18 through Round 2: Just a slower version of the first round, with Cormier landing less, but Nelson not landing much of anything.
Front kick from Cormier misses high. Inside leg kick lands. Again. Upstairs blocked. Right hand over the top connects as Nelson steps in looking for the big right. Pushing right hand to the body for Nelson. Left hook lands for Cormier. Outside leg kick scores. Right hand lands right now the middle. Nelson looking at a takedown. Spinning back kick and back fist from Cormier in combination. Front kick down the middle from Cormier. He’s taking "Crazy" Bob Cook’s advice and having fun. Right hand scores for Cormier. Inside leg kick, one to the body. Right hand scores. Nelson misses the big swings. Front kick again. Cormier checks the clock. Nelson comes forward. Two minutes left. Right misses from Nelson. Right hand from Cormier, drives through a takedown, but Nelson back up right away. High kick blocked. Low and high kicks from Cormier. One minute. Nelson drops his hands, sticks out his chin. Cormier sticks a right in his face, Nelson has nothing. Jab lands. Right over the top. Cormier sniping at Nelson through to the end.
10-9 Cormier, 30-27 Cormier overall: clean, technical win for DC in this one. Nelson didn’t have much to offer to be honest, though that was somewhat expected.
Official Result: Daniel Cormier defeats Roy Nelson by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Analysis: Solid performance from Cormier in what is expected to be his final bout at heavyweight. His hands and overall striking game continues to improve, and his wrestling is unmatched in the UFC. Defensive skills were very strong too – he slipped a ton of punches, but that could be partially because Nelson telegraphs most of his shots. Will be interesting to see DC at light heavyweight next time out.
Gilbert Melendez (21-3) vs. Diego Sanchez (24-5)
Referee Kerry Hatley with the assignment here.
Sanchez races to the center of the cage, mean mugging, like always. Inside leg kick from Melendez. Headkick ducked, Sanchez with the takedown, takes Melendez’ back. Hooks in, Melendez stands. Sanchez look for the choke, slips off the back and we’re standing. Melendez whips a punch to the body. Another. Now upstairs. Kick from Sanchez, right from Melendez. Sanchez with a 1-2 that misses. Looks high with a kick, not there. Melendez coming forward. Sanchez in for the single, stuffed, eats a knee on the break. Two down. Right hand stiffens up Sanchez. Melendez the more fluid fighter here. Takedown stuffed, Melendez lands an uppercut as Sanchez stands. Body shot follows. Another one as he ducks under the hook. Melendez just misses with the uppercut. Right hand lands for Melendez. Kick from Sanchez to the body, caught, but Melendez can’t complete the takedown. Sanchez cut over the left eye, pressing forward with hands, but can’t find a home. Spinning back kick misses by a wide margin for Sanchez. Takedown stuffed again. One minute. Uppercut to the body from Melendez. Kick to the body from Sanchez lands hard. Pressing in, the trade hands, Melendez seems a little hurt from the body kick. Swinging to the bell, Melendez briefly drops Sanchez, and the horn sounds.
10-9 Melendez: far superior striking in the opening frame, and Sanchez has a gnarly cut over his eye to boot.
Sanchez with his hands down to start the round, calling Melendez in. Body punch from Melendez. Right hand from Melendez lands hard. Sanchez misses with a right hand. In tight, both throw, Sanchez lands. Melendez counters right away. These two are just digging in, right in the center of the cage. Time is called to check the cut over Sanchez’ eye. He says he’s good, and we’re back at it. Right hand from Melendez. Body kick hits hard. Sanchez tries for the jumping knee, eats a right. Melendez stalking now. Rights to the body and head from Melendez, Sanchez keeps standing in. Halfway point. Deep breath from Sanchez. Jab lands stiff, Sanchez still comes forward throwing. Sanchez slips on a kick, right back up before Melendez can capitalize. Two minutes left. Body kick from Sanchez as Melendez looks to close the distance. Melendez lands another right as Sanchez steps forward, and two more. Sanchez with the takedown, Melendez up right away, throwing hands. One minute. Left from Melendez, right from Sanchez. This is exactly the fight we all expected. Takedown stuffed, knee on the break from Melendez. Right hand down the pipe from Melendez. HORN!
10-9 Melendez, 20-18 Melendez through Round 2: He’s picking Sanchez apart, cracking with the right hand repeatedly. Sanchez is game, but he’s getting battered.
Crowd showering these two with applause to start the final frame.
Melendez wings a right hand at the body, misses. Left uppercut from Sanchez lands. Left hook from Melendez connects. Swinging wildly in the center, both connect. They’re just standing and firing punches. This is awesome. Sanchez keeps coming forward. Melendez not backing down. Right hand snaps Sanchez’ head back, and he digs in to throw more wide hooks. Time is called to look at the cut again, blood covering Sanchez’ face and chest. He’s bleeding like crazy, but it appears to be running down the side of his face. We’re still fighting and the crowd roars! Body kick from Sanchez lands flush. Right hand from Melendez as Sanchez lands a leg kick. Right hook lands for Sanchez, Melendez blasts him with another right AND SANCHEZ CALLS HIM ON, BEATING HIS CHEST. Right hand from Sanchez lands flush. Uppercut from Sanchez drops Melendez. Sanchez jumps on his back, looking for the choke. Switches to the guillotine, Melendez slips out, and now he’s on the offensive. Knee from Melendez. Elbow. Body kick from Sanchez. One minute. Spinning back kick misses for Sanchez, Melendez on the body lock from behind. Sanchez hits the switch, nearly takes the back. Standing int he center. Body kick from Sanchez. Again. 10 seconds. Rock’em Sock’em Robots to the horn! This might have been the best fight in UFC history… I’m not even kidding.
10-9 Sanchez, 29-28 Melendez overall: How Diego Sanchez can keep coming forward and nearly finish is incredible. Still, Melendez took the first two, and should win the fight.
Official Result: Gilbert Melendez defeats Diego Sanchez by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28).
Analysis: Seriously – most entertaining fight in UFC history. That was insane. Automatic Fight of the Year. Glad the result was correct too because that had "Sanchez Decision" written all over it. Holy hell what a scrap… and we still have two great fights left!
Gabriel Gonzaga (15-7) vs. Shawn Jordan (15-4)
First of three heavyweight fights on the main card. Jordan and Gonzaga joined in the cage by Jay Stafin.
Jordan southpaw, takes a leg kick as he comes forward. Gonzaga misses with the second leg kick. Gonzaga feinting. Right hand lands for Gonzaga. Inside leg kick. Jordan misses with a left. Gonzaga catches him with a right hand as Jordan comes in, Jordan drops, and the Brazilian pounces. Jordan is rocked and this one is over!
Official Result: Gabriel Gonzaga defeats Shawn Jordan by Technical Knockout (Strikes) at 1:33 of Round 1.
Analysis: Beautiful counter right hand from Gonzaga setting up the finish. That’s consecutive first-round knockouts for "Napao," who has strong BJJ skills in his back pocket too. Once again, the veteran halts an up-and-coming contender’s climb. Will be interesting to see what comes next for Gonzaga.
John Dodson (14-6) vs. Darrell Montague (13-2)
The flyweights are joined in the cage by Jacob Montalvo.
Dodson misses with a left to start. Leg kick inside from Montague. Left hand lands for Dodson. Montague coming forward with jabs, outside leg kick. Returned by Dodson. Another left hand from Dodson, blocked. Right hand follows the left for Dodson, lands flush. Left to the body from Dodson. Montague striding forward, slips a pair of punches from Dodson. Outside leg kick from Montague. Left lands over the top from Dodson. Outside leg kick from Dodson. Halfway through the round, big left drops Montague, and Dodson swarms. Montague trying to survive, dives for a single. Dodson rolls out, and they’re back up. Another left lands hard, Montague is still hurt. Dodson coming forward, eats a right, lands a left of his own. Montague appears to have his legs under him again. Left of the top from Dodson. Montague steps forward, and another left hand lands, dropping Montague face first into the canvas.
Official Result: John Dodson defeats Darrell Montague by Knockout (Punch) at 4:13 of Round 1.
Analysis: Montague is a tough kid and will bounce back, but this was a tremendous performance from Dodson, who has some serious pop for a flyweight. Great show of patience as well, not burning himself out after rocking Montague earlier in the round. He’s right back in the title mix with this win.
Tim Boetsch (16-6) vs. C.B. Dollaway (13-4)
Kerry Hatley is your referee.
Boetsch coming forward, Dollaway paws him away with a left hand. Body shot for Dollaway. Boetsch catches the kick and kicks out Dollaway’s legs angrily. Dollaway ducks a right and connects. He’s moving well here to start. Right hand from Boetsch connects. Outside leg kick from Dollaway, now to the other side. Jab lands for Dollaway. Another outside kick, caught, but no return from Boestch. Dollaway with a clean left in close. Two minutes down. Dollaway taunting a little, lands a left hook. Uppercut lands for Boetsch. Takedown from Boetsch, Dollaway back up right away. Leg kick from Boetsch. Dollaway looks high with a kick, misses. Two minutes. Jab connects for Dollaway. Left hand lands for Boestch. 90 seconds. Dollaway taunting, coming forward with hands, getting feisty. Body kick from Dollaway. Thai clinch with knees from "The Doberman." Left hook lands too. Best he’s looked to date in the UFC with his striking. 30 seconds. Uppercut connects for Boetsch off the head clinch. Kick from Dollaway. Dirty boxing inside at the horn.
10-9 Dollaway: looks really relaxed and confident with his hands, was landing the better shots over the first five.
Both men into the center quickly. Kick up the middle misses from Boetsch. Dollaway crashing in, Boetsch lands a right hook, Dollaway drops for the takedown, and completes. Full guard. Dollaway steps over into half guard. Elbow from Dollaway to the back of the ear. Boetsch trying to stand, Dollaway keeping him down momentarily. Dollaway looks for the Peruvian necktie. Boestch stands, grabs a clinch, lands a knee. Dollaway with the takedown attempt again, defended. Two minutes down. Another defended takedown. Standing guillotine attempt from Boetch, not there. Dollaway down the ground, looking for the single. Boetsch on top not. Knee to the body, Dollaway stands. Elbow in close from Dollaway, followed by an uppercut. Two minutes left. Elbow from Dollaway on the break. Boetsch shaking out his hands. 90 seconds. Right hand lands for Boetsch, Dollaway smiles and drops his hands. Dollaway ducks under a big swing, hits the takedown in to side control. Kimura attempt from the bottom for Boetsch, extends the arm, but he doesn’t have control of the body. Dollaway trying to break the hold, Boetsch trying to get to half guard to get a better look at the submission. Elbows to the body from Dollaway. Horn!
10-9 Dollaway, 20-18 through Round 2: Boetsch landed some good shots, but Dollaway connected on more strikes, and hit a couple takedowns. Sub attempt wasn’t close enough to really register too much.
Final round starts with both men meeting in the center. Jab from Dollaway, outside leg kick from Boetsch. Dollaway lunging in, wicked poke to the eye causes Boetsch to scream in agony. Time is called. Replay is gross – middle finger into the eye. Boetsch bleeding from the eye. In comes the doctor. We’re going to continue. Dollaway gets a warning, and we restart. Boetsch coming forward heavy. Right hand lands. Dollaway looks for the takedown, but he’s rebuffed. Clinch from Boetsch, Dollaway gets out quickly. Leg kick from Dollaway. Boetsch charging in, Dollaway dings him again with an extended finger. Paused again. Dollaway says his hand was closed; it was not. Referee Kerry Hatley takes a point from Dollaway. Right hand from Boestch tags Dollaway. Dollaway counters. Boetsch looks for the guillotine, loses it, and Dollaway is on top in full guard now. Two minutes down. Boetsch looks to get up, Dollaway keeps him pinned to the canvas along the cage, head in the corner. Dollaway looking to move to mount, gets there. Elbow from the top. Boetsch explodes off the cage, gets up, pins Dollaway into the cage. Two minutes left. Stomps from Boetsch. Knee to the body from Dollaway. 90 seconds. Push kick from Boetsch. Right hand from Dollaway. One minute. Upper cut from Boetsch, right hand over the top follows. Right from Dollaway connects. Clinched up, Boetsch digging to the body. Dollaway with the takedown, reversal from Boetsch. Guillotine attempt, lost, reversal, Boetsch with a head and arm choke from the front headlock position. HORN!
9-9 in Round 3, 29-27 Dollaway overall: the point deduction costs him the clean sweep, but Dollaway still did more in that frame, and over the course of the fight.
Official Result: Tim Boetsch defeats C.B. Dollaway by Split Decision (30-26, 27-29, 30-26).
Analysis: What the? Seriously Texas? All three rounds for Boetsch from two judges? Dollaway showed improved stand-up throughout, and Boetsch looked like he couldn’t get loose and find a rhythm. How two officials scored every round for "The Barbarian" is beyond me. Onto the main card.
Nate Marquardt (32-12-2) vs. Hector Lombard (32-4-1)
Your referee for this welterweight fight is Jay Stafin.
Lombard pressing forward right away. Marquardt avoiding the early hook, looks for a kick upstairs. Marquardt into the clinch, both men connect, Lombard getting the better of it, but only slightly. Right hand lands for Lombard, left follows, Marquardt in trouble. Lombard swarms as Marquardt retreats. More bombs land, and this one is done. Blistering finish from the new welterweight Lombard.
Official Result: Hector Lombard defeats Nate Marquardt by Knockout (Punches) at 1:48 of Round 1.
Analysis: Hector Lombard is a threat at welterweight. His power is tremendous, he’s sudden with his hands, and his grappling is outstanding as well. The first good shot that landed put Marquardt on the ropes, and there was no wasted effort from there for Lombard. This is the right weight class for him, and he might get a quick push up the ranking after this performance.
Sarah Kaufman (16-2) vs. Jessica Eye (10-1)
Your referee for this women’s bantamweight encounter is Jacob Montalvo.
Kaufman takes the center, Eye comes to meet here, throwing a quick jab early. Eye looking for the right, Kaufman looking for the combinations as well. Double-jab from Kaufman, and a right tags Eye. Clinched, both landing knees inside, Eye hits an inside shot elbow. Uppercuts and rights from Eye, back into space. Eye is the faster of the two. Outside leg kick from Eye. Right hand inside from Kaufman. Jab snaps out for Eye. Right from Kaufman. Two more lefts from eye, Kaufman through it with two lefts of her own. Into the clinch, Eye with Kaufman on the cage. Halfway point. Knee from Kaufman, uppercut inside. Eye circling away, Kaufman coming forward. Quick clinch, knee from Kaufman with a right over the top as well. Right hand from Eye. Clinched up again, combo lands quickly for Eye. Eye with another right hand. One minute. Straight right lands for Kaufman, charges in behind a jab, another one lands. And again. One more. 30 seconds. Kick from Eye. Inside kick from Kaufman to close.
10-9 Kaufman: while the striking was close in volume, Kaufman is the more powerful puncher of the two, and appeared to do more damage, especially late.
Inside leg kick from Kaufman. Eye looking for a right hand, not there. Kaufman lands one over the top, she’s starting to time Eye and counter. Knee inside follows. Jab connects for Eye. Counter overhand right lands again. Eye hitting on the jab coming in, Kaufman with a right once more. Jab finds a home again for Eye. Jabs from Kaufman, who is starting to swell around her left eye. Rights connect from Eye again. Jab connects again. Kaufman still coming forward, blocks a body kick. Big right lands for Kaufman. Combo from Eye, but another two rights from Kaufman. Into the clinch, Eye with the foot stomps. Right hand on the break for Kaufman, whose eye is really starting to swell. Inside leg kick from Kaufman. Into the clinch, trading knees. More knees from Kaufman. Body shots from both sides. Left hand from Kaufman on the break. Right hand from Eye. Jab lands. Eye the quicker of the two, clearly. Kaufman connects with the right again. Jab from Eye.
10-9 Kaufman, 20-18 through Round 2: she’s wearing more damage, but the strikes have been pretty even, and despite the swelling around her eye, Kaufman seems to be landing the bigger punches. Could certainly see the judges giving the round to Eye though.
Good fight. Close fight. Final round.
Jab lands again from Eye to start. Right hand from Kaufman, another over the top stuns Eye. Kaufman in for the clinch. Trading knees inside. Kaufman with a right on the break again. Jab from Eye, Kaufman looks to counter with the right. Right from Eye lands flush, Kaufman returns fire. Right from Eye once more. Another from Kaufman, and one more on the break. Inside leg kick from Eye. Jab connects. Body kick follows. Kaufman with the right in close. Jab hits for Eye. Kaufman undeterred, closes the distance for the clinch. Two minutes left. Elbow in close from Kaufman, right hand on the break from Eye. Jab from Eye. Kaufman looking for the right. Right hand connects as Eye steps in, she’s hurt. Kaufman looking for the follow, can’t find it. Eye clinches up. One minute left. Short rights from Kaufman. Knees from Eye. They split, and Kaufman is stalking, landing another right. And one more. Eye lands a good right, counters an overhand. Kaufman with another big right hand, and the horn sounds. Great fight!
10-9 Kaufman, 30-27 overall: she repeatedly landed the bigger shots, especially in the third frame.
Official Result: Jessica Eye defeats Sarah Kaufman by Split Decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28).
Analysis: The women continue to impress inside the Octagon, and their performance shouldn’t be diminished by what feels like a questionable decision. Eye was the faster of the two and worked the jab throughout, but Kaufman seemed to do more damage, especially in the third. Huge win for Eye in her debut, knocking off a former champion.
George Sotiropoulos (14-5) vs. K.J. Noons (11-7)
Your referee for this lightweight contest is Herb Dean.
Noons takes the center. Sotiropoulos moving on the outside. 30 seconds of dancing to start, no punches thrown or landed. Make that a full minute. Noons starting to close the distance, push Sotiropoulos back some. Jab to the body from Noons. Sotiropoulos offering nothing yet. Jab from Noons. Two minutes in and we haven’t seen much here. Another jab to the body from Noons. Sotiropoulos counters a body jab with a right hand, but goes right back to moving away from Noons’ power. Two minutes left. Another body shot from Noons. Right hand to the midsection this time. Left counter from Sotiropoulos connects. 90 seconds. Left hook blocked by Sotiropoulos. Tries with one of his own, nothing there. Body jab, and Sotiropoulos inadvertently pokes Noons in the eye. Time is called. Noons says he’s seeing black, but we’re back at it. Uppercut lands for Noons. Misses with the right hand. Three-punch combo from Noons in close, and a right hand staggers Sotiropoulos. Both men firing rights and lefts as the round comes to a close, with Noons landing another big shot that pops Sotiropoulos’ head back.
10-9 Noons: He was controlling the action (and actually throwing punches) before the break, and got the better of the final exchange.
Both men throw, and both men land right out of the gate. Noons back to the body jab. Sotiropoulos misses with an overhand right, but he’s far more aggressive here. Headkick from Sotiropoulos blocked. Noons just misses with the uppercut, and Sotiropoulos counters with a right. Body shot from Noons. Again. Knee misses from Sotiropoulos. Right hand connects for Sotiropoulos. Noons ducks out of the way of a combo, and a wheel kick. Sotiropoulos in on leg, denied easily. Noons out-boxing Sotiropoulos thus far. Uppercut lands on the chin. Digs to the body as Sotiropoulos comes in. Kick connects for Sotiropoulos. Body kick from Sotiropoulos, Noons looks upstairs with a right. Sotiropoulos draggs a foot out looking for the takedown, clamps the hands, and drops Noons to the mat along the fence. 90 seconds left. Noons right up with a fence pull, back into space. Left hook from Noons. Sotiropoulos ducks a right hook. Outside leg kick from Sotiropoulos. Another body jab from Noons. Left hand for Sotiropoulos, right hand for Noons. Left hook again for Sotiropoulos as Noons leans in. One more pops Noons’ head up right before the end of the round.
10-9 Sotiropoulos: He started to get the better of the exchanges early in the round, and continued it after the takedown. Noons throwing more, but Sotiropoulos doing more damage and landing with more power.
This one should decide it.
Noons takes the center, just misses with a right hand. Sotiropoulos in for a takedown, denied. Right hand from Sotiropoulos. Jab connects as well. Noons still throwing that body jab. Uppercut from Sotiropoulos lands to the body. Sotiropoulos pushing Noons back with repeat jabs. Hook misses for Sotiropoulos, who is cut over the left eye. Left hook just misses for Noons. Right hand lands flush and hurts Sotiropoulos. Knee up the middle, and Sotiropoulos is now bleeding from both sides of his head. Noons misses with hooks, Sotiropoulos under for the takedown, but stuffed. Shot denied again by Noons. Right hand counter lands for Noons. Halfway through the final round. Uppercut from Noons. Sotiropoulos now coming forward. Leg kick lands outside for the Aussie. Right from Noons. Left uppercut just misses from Noons. Right hand down the middle misses, counter by Sotiropoulos, finished with a leg kick. 90 seconds. Body jab from Noons. More kicks from Sotiropoulos, and now he goes upstairs and lands. Noons still standing in there. One minute. Noons ducks another headkick attempt, misses a hook. 40 seconds. Right hand from Noons, and then a left. 30 seconds. Spinning backfist misses. Right hand lands for Noons, kick fro Sotiropoulos, another right from Noons as the horn sounds.
10-9 Noons, 29-28 Noons overall for me: big right hand early in the round, and sniped some good hooks from both sides down the stretch. Eating that headkick helped him too; if he wobbles or drops, Sotiropoulos probably takes the frame.
Official Result: K.J. Noons defeats George Sotiropoulos by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
Analysis: This was a solid performance for Noons, who used his superior boxing to get the better of Sotiropoulos in this one. Surprised that he didn’t press in hard after landing that right hand early in the third, but he did enough to hold on and get the win, bringing his losing streak to a halt.
T.J. Waldburger (16-7) vs. Adlan Amagov (12-2-1)
Joining the welterweights inside the cage is referee Jay Stafin.
Outside leg kick from Waldburger is the first shot thrown. Amagov looking at the oblique kick, Waldburger lands another outside leg kick, and now inside. Headkick just misses from Amagov. Waldburger keeping his distance, Amagov setting up to spin. Waldburger in with a hook, Amagov ducks under, and slips out. Jab from Waldburger. Spinning back kick from Amagov lands to the body. Waldburger in on a takedown, stuffed, knees Amagov in the midsection. Clinched along the cage, Waldburger looking for the single. Amagov defending, lands a left hand to the head. Two more, and Waldburger gives up on the single. More lefts from Amagov and Waldburger is in trouble. Two more and this one is done!
Official Result: Adlan Amagov defeats T.J. Waldburger by Knockout (Punches) at 3:45 of Round 1.
Analysis: Outstanding knockout win for Amagov here. Showed tremendous takedown defense, and managed to hurt Waldburger while balancing on one leg, defending the takedown. That’s some serious power, and with everything else he has in his repertoire, Agamov is definitely someone to keep tabs on in the welterweight division going forward.
Tony Ferguson (13-3) vs. Mike Rio (9-2)
Kerry Hatley shares the cage with these lightweight TUF alums.
The touch gloves and take the center. Rio with a good jab to start. Lunging in with a hook, Rio connects on a left hook. Ferguson stuffs the takedown and sprawls. Rio stands, reverses along the cage, and they break. Right hand from Ferguson. Long jab connects. Sprawl from Ferguson on the takedown attempt. Knee to the shoulder. Right hand lands for Ferguson. Back up. Rio lunging in with jabs. Left hook connects for Ferguson, Rio is hurt. Shoots for the takedown, and Ferguson locks up the D’arce choke that Rogan and Goldberg discussed in the opening. Rio taps, and "El Cucuy" is back in the win column.
Official Result: Tony Ferguson defeats Mike Rio by Submission (D’Arce Choke) at 1:52 of Round 1.
Analysis: Tremendous return performance for the Ultimate Fighter winner. His long jab and quick hands looked good, just as they had in the past, and his finish with the choke is a nice addition to the arsenal. Don’t forget: Ferguson was tabbed as a potential contender before his loss to Michael Johnson, and this performance showed that he still has the skills to potentially climb the ladder going forward.
Jeremy Larsen (8-4) vs. Andre Fili (12-1)
Jacob Montalvo with the assignment.
Fili coming forward right away, lands a jab, throws a headkick. Left lands for Fili, pressing in behind his hands. Two rights land for Fili, Larsen offers in response. Fili stops the takedown attempt, knees along the cage from Fili. Larsen is in serious trouble. More knees from Fili along the cage. Larsen surviving, but Fili is all over him. Larsen reverses him along the cage, his face covered in blood. Body shot from Fili as Larsen tries for the takedown. Another knee upstairs from Fili. Referee calls time to check the cut. Larsen looks nasty, but we’re good to go. Fili presses in on the restart. Larsen lands to the body, and then over top. Right from Fili. Larsen slings a right. Two minutes. Fili with the clinch, drives Larsen into the fence. Larsen fights hands, turns out. Both land straights. Larsen catches a kick and dumps Fili, following into his guard. Elbow over the top from Larsen, now body shots. Over the top again. Closed guard from Fili, throws legs high, but Larsen slips out. Elbow from Larsen. Right hand. Fili looking for the omoplata, manages a sweep and they’re back up. 30 seconds. Left hand lands for Fili as Larsen offers a right. A right hand just misses from Fili as the round ends. Larsen’s face is a bloody mess.
10-9 Fili: He nearly finished this thing with the early barrage, and continues to look fresh as the round ended. Will have to see how the weight cut impacts him from here on out.
Doctor in to look at Larsen again, says he’s good to go. A warning from Jacob Montalvo as well.
Left jab from Larsen connects to start the round. Outside leg kick from Fili. Larsen lands an overhand right, Fili keeps coming forward, lands a left of his own and just misses a headkick. Larsen moving his head more, but just as he looks to connect with another right hand, Fili plants him with a right hook that takes his legs out. Larsen retreats to the cage, Fili follows, and before he can do any more damage, the referee jumps in.
Official Result: Andre Fili defeats Jeremy Larsen by Technical Knockout (Punches) at 0:53 of Round 2.
Analysis: Outstanding performance from Fili in his UFC debut. He put a beating on Larsen from the outset, and looks like another dangerous addition to the UFC roster from the Team Alpha Male camp in Sacramento. Plus he was rocking the "Joe Jitsu" piano key belt in the cage after his finish, so he’s got that working for him too.
Dustin Pague (11-8) vs. Kyoji Horiguchi (11-1)
Herb Dean with the first officiating assignment of the night.
Pague takes the center, but Horiguchi first to land with an outside leg kick. Now inside. Pague stalking, Horiguchi moving. Pague in on the clinch, jumps onto Horiguchi’s back, locking in the body triangle. Horiguchi stands, but Pague gets the arm under the chin, and squeezing. Horiguchi fighting the left hand. Horiguchi pulls the right arm out from under the chin, but Pague still locked on his back. Two minutes down. Horiguchi still fighting the hands, trying to shake Pague off. Pague gives up on the body triangle. Two minutes left. Horiguchi tries to turn into Pague, but is denied, and Pague tries to climb back on his back. Can’t, and Horiguchi turns into him, pressing him into the cage, searching for a single. One minute left. Elbow just misses from Pague. Horiguchi lunges in, misses, eats a right from Pague. Takedown attempt stuffed, Pague lands a knee. One to the body, and a nice takedown from Pague as well, dropping hands as the 10–second clap comes. Big right hand from Horiguchi as Pague goes to guard and the round ends.
10-9 Pague: two solid minutes working for the submission, Horiguchi didn’t land much at all over the course of the first round.
Good left hook connects early for Horiguchi, and another comes seconds later, flooring Pague. Horiguchi firing lefts and rights on the downed Pague, who grabs for a leg, surviving for the time being. Pague brings Horiguchi to the ground, sweeping to top position. Horiguchi up from bottom, presses Pague into the cage. Inside knee from Horiguchi, who follows with a takedown into half guard. Horiguchi looks to pin the arm, dropping punches on Pague. Right hands to the head from Horiguchi. Halfway point. Pague looking for a way up and out, but Horiguchi keeping him pinned as well as he can. Skips over the legs and postures up. Big left from Horiguchi, now a right, and another. Left over the top lands with a thud. Horiguchi into Pague’s guard, raining down bombs. Postured up, more heavy shots, Herb Dean taking a close look. Lefts and rights, and the ref has seen enough.
Official Result: Kyoji Horiguchi defeats Dustin Pague by Technical Knockout (Punches) at 3:51 of Round 2.
Analysis: Very impressive finish and debut for Horiguchi, who survived a tense first round to showcase his power in the second frame. Undersized for the bantamweight division, he could potentially move to flyweight in the future, where the finishing power and instincts he showed here could make him a contender.
MAIN CARD (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)
Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos – for heavyweight title
Daniel Cormier vs. Roy Nelson
Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Shawn Jordan
John Dodson vs. Darrell Montague
PRELIMINARY CARD (FOX Sports 1, 8 p.m. ET)
Tim Boetsch vs. C.B. Dollaway
Hector Lombard vs. Nate Marquardt
Jessica Eye vs. Sarah Kaufman
K.J. Noons vs. George Sotiropoulos
PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC.tv, 6 p.m. ET)
Adlan Amagov vs. T.J. Waldburger
Tony Ferguson vs. Mike Rio
Andre Fili vs. Jeremy Larsen
Kyogi Horiguchi vs. Dustin Pague