Nate Diaz bludgeons Gray Maynard, Pena and Holdsworth win the TUF crowns
NOV 30, 2013 8:35p ET
Gray Maynard (11-2-1) vs. Nate Diaz (16-9)
Yves Lavigne is the third man in the cage for tonight's main event.
Here we go.
Maynard takes the center, Diaz lands the first strike, a left down the pipe. Maynard leaping in with a hook, Diaz backing away countering. Maynard in on a single, drags Diaz down. Full guard. Maynard walks him to the fence, but Diaz gets back to his feet. Diaz tosses Maynard, who stays tight to his back. Up and throwing, Maynard moused over the left eye. Inside leg kick from Maynard. Overhand right for Maynard, counter hook from Diaz. LEft down the middle staggers Maynard. Diaz swarming, opening up. Maynard looks out on his feet. Another bomb lands, Diaz unloading, and Lavigne steps in to save Maynard.
Official Result: Nate Diaz defeats Gray Maynard by TKO (Strikes) at 2:38 of Round 1.
Analysis: Great showing from Diaz, who pounced and finished as soon as he saw Maynard was hurt. The volume of punches and accuracy on his strikes really is impressive, even though we've seen it numerous times. Hopefully this performance makes him reconsider his thoughts on moving up, because he was rag-dolled a welterweight a couple times, and still has spotty takedown defence. Lightweight is where he belongs, and this could be the catalyst for another title run for the popular former Ultimate Fighter winner.
Julianna Pena (4-2) vs. Jessica Rakoczy (1-3, 1 NC)
Mario Yamasaki is your referee.
Team Tate vs. Team Rousey here again. Pena crashes in behind hands, drops Rakoczy to the canvas quick, landing in half guard. Pena looking to transition, stands up, but Rakoczy kicks her away. Pena back into the clinch on the cage. Pena looking to the takedown, Rakoczy defending well. Inside knees from each fighter. Trip takedown for Pena in the center. Pena postures up, dropping shots, looking to pass, but can't. Halfway point of the round. Big right hand from Pena, Rakoczy kicks her away again, but Pena drops back in, this time in side control. Two minutes. Mount for Pena, dropping shots. Rakoczy trying to buck Pena off, but can't. Hammerfists from Pena, who is a little loose on top. One minute. Rakoczy trying to sweep the legs up. Heavy shots from Pena on top. Elbows now. Rakoczy covering up. Yamasaki taking a close look, and that's it!
Official Result: Julianna Pena defeats Jessica Rakoczy by TKO (Strikes) at 4:59 of Round 1.
Analysis: This was the type of swarming, ground-based performance many expected from Pena, as she dominated Rakoczy on the canvas and unloaded a non-stop barrage of punches once she got to mount. There isn't a lot of polish to her approach, but Pena does a great job of overwhelming her opponents and not giving them a chance to catch their breathe. Very good win, and a very bright future for the first-ever female winner of The Ultimate Fighter.
Chris Holdsworth (4-0) vs. Davey Grant (8-1)
Yves Lavigne is your referee.
Touch of gloves and we're underway. Team Tate vs. Team Rousey here. Leg kick outside for Grant. Inside for Holdsworth. Big swing for Holdsworth misses, but he works into the clinch behind it. Knee inside from Holdsworth, Grant reverses and blasts a right hand. Right hand wobbles Grant. Left hook lands as well, and Holdsworth works into the clinch again. Short punches inside for Holdsworth. Grant reverses off the cage again, looking for a takedown of his own, not there. Break into space. Both miss big rights. Jab lands for Holdsworth. Grant comes forward, lands to the body. High kick misses from Holdsworth. Grant crashes in, turns into a clinch with Holdsworth working a single. Two minutes left. Grant defending well, looks for takedown of his own. Knee inside from Holdsworth. Right hand for Grant. Right to the body, left hook for Grant, but Holdsworth again initiates the clinch along the cage. Knee to the body from Holdsworth. Grant reverses again, work for a takedown, but misses, and Holdsworth ends up on top. HORN!
10-9 Holdsworth – but just barely. He initiated more of the clinches and they landed relatively level with the hands. The kicks were the difference for Holdsworth.
High kick from Holdsworth is caught, countered with a leg kick from Grant. Push kick from Grant. Hook to the body from Grant, Holdsworth into the clinch, looking for the takedown. Grant misses on the choke attempt, and Holdsworth ends up in side control. Grant with a bloody nose. Holdsworth tight on top, working to Grant's back as he looks to stand. Body triangle for Holdsworth with more than three minutes to work. Grant to his knees, Holdsworth locks in the choke, Grant taps, and that's it!
Official Result: Chris Holdsworth defeats Davey Grant by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:10 of Round 2.
Analysis: Holdsworth showed his superior ability on the ground, capitalizing on Grant's mistake, and working to the finish. As soon as it got to the ground, Holdsworth went to work, and wrapped things up. The newest Ultimate Fighter winner has lots of upside too - he trains with a great team, has excellent finishing instincts, and will only continue to improve going forward. Grant should stick around as well, especially if the UFC is going back to the UK and Europe more frequently in the future.
Jessamyn Duke (2-0) vs. Peggy Morgan (2-0)
Team Rousey fighters facing off here, with Kim Winslow as the referee.
No touch. Morgan working the jab, Duke looking to get inside it early, lands with the left hook. Front kick from Duke. Morgan ties it up briefly, lands a knee. Two hooks land for Duke. Body-head from Duke as she ducks in. Clinched, Duke working knees to the body. Short punches inside as well. Morgan looking for the takedown, not there. Duke staying busy in close, looks for the takedown, not there. Now grabs a guillotine and jumps guard. Closed up, she needs to get on her hip more to finish. Duke trying to squeeze out the win, brut has to release. Duke now working her legs up higher, looking for the triangle. Two minutes. Duke trying to close up for the triangle, but can't. Short punches from bottom for Duke. Starting to get closer to locking up the reverse triangle, Morgan not doing much. Transitions to a triangle. Elbows in bunches to the side of the head. Triangle isn't a threat, but the elbows and punches are piling up. HORN!
10-9 Duke – controlled the majority of the round, even though she was on bottom. Looked for submissions, stayed active from her back with elbows and punches. Morgan had little to offer after the takedown.
Duke with a body-head combo to start. Morgan working the jab, but Duke is the more fluid of the two. Left hook lands for Duke, and then a right-left hook two-piece. Body kick from Duke. Clinched up, knees from Duke, and Morgan backs out. Jab lands for Morgan. Duke is first with the hands, landing hooks outside of Morgan's jab and cross. Left hook lands again. Inside leg kick from Duke. Morgan coming forward, both landing shots, Duke getting the better of it. Halfway point. Jab keeps landing for Morgan, but she's not following up enough. Left hook wide open for Duke all night. High kick blocked by Morgan. Duke working the left hook. Clinched up with 90 seconds left, Duke working knees in close. Morgan backs off the cage, two hooks land clean for Duke. Right hand down the pipe lands. Another left hook. Duke comes forward into the clinch, lands a knee to the body. Jabs from Morgan still landing, just not throwing enough of them. Tied up, takedown late from Duke.
10-9 Duke, 20-18 Duke through Round 2 – More of the same from the first with Duke landing the greater volume and with more power. Morgan is game, but needs to throw more to have a chance.
Touch gloves and the third is underway. Morgan eats a jab as she comes forward, but lands one of her own. Duke with the left hook again. Right hand for Duke, followed by a body kick. Another. Another. Another.Clinched, now knees to the body. Duke turning it up here. Big hooks from Duke with Morgan backed onto the cage. Knees to the body from Duke. Morgan looking for the takedown, but Duke defends. Duke with a bulldog headlock, takes Morgan down, but Morgan lolls to take her back. One hook in, Morgan has Duke's back with 2:20 to go. Looking for the choke. Duke not doing anything from bottom, Morgan wiggles her hand free. Searching foe the choke. Right hands from top, Duke rolls to her back, Morgan lands in half guard. One minute. Working to work from Winslow. Short rights from Morgan. Winslow stands them up. UGH! Hooks from Duke as they re-engage. Duke again opening up with the offence. The horn goes and we're done.
10-9 Duke, 30-27 Duke overall – Morgan didn't score the takedown, she was gifted back mount. Duke dominated the stand-up throughout the final round, and the fight as a whole.
Official Result: Jessamyn Duke defeats Peggy Morgan by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Analysis: Kim Winslow's stand ups are awful; just brutal. Anyway, very good showing for Duke, who has a nice striking base that will continue to expand as she works with Ronda Rousey and her team. She needs to work on those mental lapses that put her in bad spots, like the bulldog headlock that lead to her being forced to defend, but she has a bright future in the women's bantamweight division.
Roxanne Modafferi (15-10) vs. Raquel Pennington (3-3)
Chris Tognoni shares the cage with these two Team Tate representatives.
Touch of gloves and we're underway. Modafferi off first with jabs and inside leg kicks, though nothing serious. Pennington lands a right hand on the chin. Modafferi throwing in space trying to get inside, nothing doing yet. Jab lands for Modafferi. Right hand follows. Pennington counters with a right of her own. Modafferi still active on the outside, Pennington looks tentative. Right hand down the middle lands for Pennigton, but Modafferi keeps coming forward. Right glances for Modafferi, but there is very little on it. Side kick from Pennington. Spinning backfist from Modafferi. Right hand on the chin again from Pennigton. Modafferi standing in there, works inside behind punches. Uppercut in close from Pennington along the cage. One minute left. Modafferi working for the takedown. Pennington defends, reverses off the cage, lands an elbow in close. Right hand lands again. 30 seconds. Left snaps Modafferi's head back. Body kick from Modafferi. Blistering right at the horn from Pennington.
10-9 Pennington – Modafferi may have been coming forward and throwing a bunch of strikes in space, but Pennington landed with far more power and accuracy.
Modafferi again coming forward. Spinning backfist misses. Modafferi comes forward, gets the clinch along the cage. Pennington defending well. Knee to the body from Pennington. Uppercut and a right hand from Pennington, one right back from Modafferi. Modafferi is slow and deliberate with her striking. Right hand on the chin for Pennington, who stuffs the takedown. Modafferi drops underneath to guard, closing it up, now working rubber guard. Looking for an arm. Short elbows, and Pennington postures up. Modafferi looking to control wrists, now back to high guard. Pennington tries to pick her up and slam her, Modafferi sets up the armbar. Hammerfist from Pennington, who powers out of the armbar and a tepid triangle attempt. One minute. Pennington standing, Modafferi called up. Inside leg kick from Pennington. Left hand lands flush from Pennington. Right hand counters a body kick from Modafferi. Knee in the clinch from Modafferi. Both land rights just before the bell.
10-9 Pennington, 20-18 Pennington overall through Round 2 – controlled the action on the ground following the takedown attempt that turned into Modafferi pulling guard, and is still landing the more powerful shots in the stand-up.
Modafferi coming forward with a Superman punch that misses. Trading punches in close, neither landing. Inside leg kick from Pennington. Takedown attempt denied. Body kick from Roxanne. Pennington pushing forward now, but Modafferi backs her off by throwing shots. Left hook lands for Pennington, and a right behind it. Modafferi into the clinch, eats a knee to the body. Pennington reverses and they break. Right hand lands for Pennington coming forward. Pennington catches the body kick, lands a right. Takedown attempt, stuffed, and Modafferi accepts being in guard. Halfway point of the final round. Elbows from the top for Pennington. Modafferi recovers guard. Punch to the body from Pennington, and Modafferi didn't like it at all. Back to high guard from the bottom, Pennington postures up and lands to the body. Pennington stands out, lands a right. Modafferi looking for subs from bottom, but Pennington landing to the body. Elbows to the side of the head force Modafferi to look to shoot underneath. Modafferi gets up, Pennington tries to lock on a standing guillotine. Takes Modafferi down into mount, squeezing tight. Modafferi fight it, but it's deep. HORN!
10-9 Pennington, 30-27 Pennington overall – far more clean and powerful with her striking, controlled from top position to end the frame.
Official Result: Raquel Pennington defeats Roxanne Modafferi by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
Analysis: Against a more powerful and accomplished striker, Pennington could have been in trouble, but Modafferi doesn't have a lot of jam on her shots, and it showed here. Pennington landed the bigger strikes throughout, and took advantage of things when Modafferi pulled guard. If she can learn to be more active and aggressive, she could blossom into a contender, as she has legit power.
Akira Corassani (11-3) vs. Maximo Blanco (9-4-1)
Second straight featherweight pairing here. Mario Yamasaki makes his first appearance in the cage this evening.
No touch for these two. Blanco forward quickly, landing a wild right and left. Corassani looks to counter, Blanco with the takedown. As Corassani looks to stand, posted with three points down, Blanco blasts him with a knee to the face.
Time is called for the illegal knee. Corassani said he can't see. Doctor in the cage tending to Corassani, whose nose is gushing. This one is done. Blanco doing backflips, completely oblivious to the disqualification. Yamasaki explaining the verdict to Shu Hirota, Blanco's agent. Yamasaki know going to look at the replay – clear that Corassani was still down, as both his knee and hand were still on the canvas.
Official Result: Akira Corassani defeats Maximo Blanco by Disqualification (Intentional Foul – Illegal Knee) at 0:25 of Round 1.
Analysis: This is absolutely the right call by Yamasaki – Corassani was clearly down, and Blanco has to control his strikes and – awkward as this always sounds – protect his opponent in those situations. Whether you dislike the "No knees to a grounded opponent" rule or not, this was the right call. Tough way to end what could have been a great fight.
Rani Yahya (19-7) vs. Tom Niinimaki (20-5-1)
Kim Winslow has the officiating duties here.
Yahya steps into an outside leg kick to start, and then charges forward behind hands. Another solid outside leg kick from Yahya. Yahya in on a leg, Niinimaki looking at the guillotine as a defense. Yahya stays on the leg, Niinimaki reverses to top position. Yahya looking at a leg lock from bottom. Niinimaki sprawls, drops on top of Yahya. The Brazilian again attacking off his back, rolls through and back to his knees. Niinimaki again with the guillotine stoppage, and into top position. Yahya again searching from the bottom, Niinimaki defending well every time. Two minutes left. Yahya patient from bottom, and moves to Niinimaki's back. One hook in. Looks for the choke, Niinimaki escapes, they stand, and Niinimaki with the takedown into side control. One minute. Niinimaki on top in half guard. Yahya bridges, gives up his back as he looks for the switch. Niinimaki dropping hammerfists from the top.
10-9 Yahya – this is going to be one of those rounds where the judges and I disagree. Yahya's attacks are the key piece of scoring in the round, but I fear top position will earn Niinimaki the nod officially.
Outside leg kick from Yahya. Right hand lands stiff for Yahya, who ducks for the takedown. Niinimaki defends, looks for a takedown of his own, and completes. Yahya looking for the guillotine, Niinimaki defends. Yahya stands, arm in guillotine from Yahya, countered with the roll through from Niinimaki, who ends up in side control. Two down, three to go. Elbow to the side of the head from Niinimaki. Short elbow in close from the top. Again. Yahya looking to create space, Niinimaki avoiding the re-guard. Two minutes left. "You need to work" warning from Winslow. Ugh. Short right from the top, Yahya recovers half guard. Winslow stands them up. Double Ugh. Niinimaki forward with a deep kick to the body. In on a takedown, Yahya locks up the guillotine and pulls guard. Niinimaki defending well, and pops his head free. Elbow from the Finn, who finishes the round on top.
10-9 Niinimaki, 19-19 overall through Round 2 – better round for Niinimaki there, as he nullified Yahya's offensive attacks off the bottom and did more damage throughout. Third decides the fight.
Niinimaki with a quick, easy takedown to start, right into side control. Short elbow to the head from the top. Yahya recovers half guard, but Niinimaki looks to pass right away, working knees to the body. Right hands to the head from Niinimaki. Two minutes down, and Winslow stands them up. Yahya slips coming forward throwing hands. Lands a 1-2 combination. Niinimaki in on a single, Yahya uses the guillotine to sweep to top position in half guard. His hands are locked under the chin. Niinimaki doesn't look worried though. Niinimaki gets his head out, but Yahya still on top. One minute left. Elbows from Yahya as Niinimaki tries to create space. 30 seconds. Yahya looking for the kimura late. Not there. Horn goes with Yahya on top.
10-9 Yahya, 29-28 Yahya overall – he was on top an equal amount of time in the final round, and threatened with the submission. This was a close fight, and 29-28 either way or a split decisions would be understandable.
Official Result: Tom Niinimaki defeats Rani Yahya by Split Decision (29-29, 28-29, 30-27).
Analysis: That 30-27 score is frustrating simply because it makes no sense to award the final round to Niinimaki when they were on top for almost the same amount of time, and Yahya worked for the guillotine from top position. Regardless, a reasonable split decision and a very good first showing for Niinimaki – he battled Yahya on the canvas throughout, and could be a dangerous new addition to the featherweight ranks.
Jared Rosholt (8-1) vs. Walt Harris (4-1)
These heavyweight newcomers are joined in the cage by referee Chris Tognoni.
Touch of gloves and we're off. Southpaw for Harris who is stalking forward. Rosholt presses forward, Harris backs out, nothing thrown, nothing landed. Harris with a short left lands. Rosholt lands a combo inside. Body kick from Rosholt. Harris looks to answer. Right hand for Harris, Rosholt takes it no problem. Harris rushes forward with a combo, Rosholt weathers. Harris closes the distance, drops Rosholt with a left hand! Rosholt up, dropped again. Tremendous speed with the hands from Harris. Very impressive so far. Halfway point. Rosholt appears to have recovered. Kick up the middle from Rosholt. Harris charges in with a left, misses and stumbles away. Body kick from Rosholt right on the belt line. 90 seconds. Rosholt looking for a way in, Harris using his range well to stay out of trouble. Right hand for Rosholt. Left for Harris lands clean. 30 seconds. Right hand from Rosholt, left at the bell answered by one from Harris.
10-9 Harris – Almost went 10-8, but there was so little action after the early knockdown sequence.
Touch again in the center, and this round is underway. Kick from Rosholt deflected. Left hook for Rosholt. body kick from Rosholt. Another body kick. Harris coming forward to answer, lands the left. Rosholt lands a right and Harris is backing off. Knee from Rosholt as Harris misses. Body shot from Rosholt. Harris' pace has slowed considerably from the start. Right hand lands for Rosholt, and he's starting to slip Harris' counters. Lunging left hook from Rosholt. Halfway point of the round and fight. Inside leg kick from Rosholt. Harris looks for the left uppercut, misses. Harris lunges in, misses, and backs out as Rosholt looks to clinch. 90 seconds. Left hook glances for Rosholt. Body kick. One minute. Rosholt trying to lung in, Harris blocks. Left and right land for Rosholt, Harris counters with a short right inside. Knee from Rosholt. Horn!
10-9 Rosholt, 19-19 through Round 2 – Harris' pace slowed, Rosholt was initiating the action and landing more shots. Five minutes left to decide a winner.
Harris taking big, deep breathes on his stool between rounds.
Touch of gloves and the final round has started. Rosholt coming forward, Harris backs away to avoid. The boos are raining down from the crowd. Harris looks fresher here. Body kick from Rosholt. In on the takedown, Rosholt puts Harris on the canvas. In half guard. Elbows to the body from Rosholt. Looks to isolate Harris' arm. Short punches to the head from Rosholt. Harris looking to shrimp out, Rosholt controls his body and head, lands the elbow. Rosholt postures up, soft rights land. Harris tries to sit up again, put back down by Rosholt. Two minutes. Harris again tries to get up, nothing happening. Rosholt staying busy in half guard. Left over the top from Rosholt. 60 seconds. Short elbows from Rosholt. Looking for the keylock, Harris defends. 30 seconds. Elbow from Rosholt. Dominant end for the former Oklahoma State wrestler.
10-9 Rosholt, 29-28 Rosholt overall – takedown early in the third sealed Harris' fate. Could be some interesting scores though, as the first had 10-8 potential and someone could have (inexplicably) scored Round 2 for Harris. We'll see shortly.
Official Result: Jared Rosholt defeats Walt Harris by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Analysis: Not a great fight, but a good win for Rosholt, who survived an early barrage that included two knockdowns to pull out a victory in his debut. The takedown late was a difference maker as it secured him the frame and the win. Both are intriguing additions, so it will be interesting to see how they progress between this fight and their sophomore appearances. Despite the loss, Harris has the greater upside of the two.
Sean Spencer (10-2) vs. Drew Dober (13-4)
Yves Lavigne with the assignment for this welterweight contest.
Spencer out quickly, flinging the lunging left hook. Dober with a headkick attempt, right hand from Spencer counters. Body punch from Spencer. Right hand follows. Dober looking high with the kick again. Now ducks for the takedown. Stuffed on the double, switches single, but Spencer defending well. Inside knee from Dober. Spencer off the cage with a right hand, follows with a 1-2. Body kick from Dober again, left hand counter from Spencer. Takedown attempt from Dober, stuffed by Spencer. Along the cage with two minutes down. Warning to work from Lavigne. Spencer powers off the cage, right hand lands on the mark twice. Dober bleeding from the nose. Body kick from Spencer. Dober starting to tire. Right hand lands again for Spencer. Body kick attempt from Dober who is clearly slowing down. Kick from Spencer. Another right hand from Spencer. 90 seconds left. Right hand to the body for Spencer, and he slips whatever Dober counters with. Dober dives in on a single. Spencer defends, lands another right coming off the cage. Dober with a high kick, but not a lot of power on it. Spencer with another right down the middle. Looks for the elbow, misses. Body kick from Spencer, and one more right at the horn.
10-9 Spencer - Using his reach and speed advantage fully here, landing the right down the middle repeatedly, and stuffing every takedown attempt Dober offered. Should only widen the margin from here on out as Dober tires.
Spencer back out quickly again, pressing forward. Dober offers the high kick once more, blocked. In on the single, Spencer counters along the cage, turns out, rips a knee to the body. Right hand slides in from Spencer, followed by a body shot. Body kick for Dober, who is hanging tough. Elbow over the top lands clean for Spencer, but Dober just eats it. Great chin!. Spencer in on the body lock, pushes Dober in to the cage. Knees to the thigh, Spencer breaks out, landing rights as they find space. Another right hand down the center for Spencer. Dober taking the best Spencer has to offer, but he's not returning fire with much power. Another right lands on the jaw. Dober enters on the takedown, but Spencer again defends well as they back into the cage. Two minutes left, Lavigne breaks them into space. Right again, left follows for Spencer. Dober game, but Spencer clearly the dominant force here. 90 seconds. Body kick from Dober. Trading swings, neither man landing. Dober looking for the takedown again, denied. Elbow inside for Spencer. Left hand from Dober lands flush. Right hook, left uppercut for Dober connects. Another left hand lands. Spencer with another stiff right. Left hand over the top lands.
10-9 Spencer, 20-18 Spencer overall - he's the clear aggressor and landing far more in terms of both volume and power. Dober is tough as can be, but Spencer is ahead 2-0 here.
Spencer takes the center, Dober comes out swinging. Body kick for Dober. Spencer coming forward behind the jab. Left hand from Dober lands, as he's starting well here in the third. Dober in on a takedown, Spencer loses his mouthpiece. Time is called.
Re-started, Dober looking for the left as Spencer dips. Uppercut from Spencer lands, followed by a knee to the body and a left hand. Spencer with a body kick, right hand stiffens Dober as he comes forward. Dober tries for the takedown, Spencer slips it, turns him into the cage. Two down in the final round. Dober circles out, Spencer lands the right clean again. And again. Body kick from Spencer, countered by Dober. Superman punch from Dober lands. Two shots land for Spencer. Another takedown attempt from Dober, Spencer backs into the fence. Dober still working hard for it, Spencer pushes the head away, pummels under. Dober bails, Spencer rips two shots down the middle, busting up Dober. Left hand lands clean for Spencer. 60 seconds. Knee lands clean as Doeber comes in. Left hand rocks Dober. Jump knee lands on the chin. Dober is rocked, trying to survive. Spencer stalking. Another right hand. 10 seconds. One more right.
10-9 Spencer, 30-27 Spencer overall - much cleaner striking throughout, though you have to tip your cap to Dober for hanging tough.
Official Result: Sean Spencer defeats Drew Dober by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Analysis: Strong showing from Spencer in this one - his boxing was crisp from start to finish, and made the most of both his reach advantage and Dober coming in on short notice. Nice variety in his striking, working the body well, mixing in kicks and knees throughout. Dober will definitely get another shot, most likely down at lightweight.
Ryan Benoit (7-2) vs. Joshua Sampo (10-2)
UFC newcomers meet in the opener of the evening. Sampo missed weight yesterday, coming in 1.5 pounds over the 126-pound flyweight limit, so it will be interesting to see how much he was able to recuperate in the 24 hours since stepping on the scale.
Chris Tognoni is the third man in the cage.
Sampo out early to the center, uppercut from Benoit lands. Southpaw stance for Benoit, body kick lands. Another uppercut connects. Inside leg kick from Benoit. Right hand from Sampo stuns Benoit. Sampo hits the quick takedown, into half guard. Elbow from the top for "The Gremlin" with Benoit trying to just lock up form the top bottom. Sampo looking to posture up and land the elbow. Now working for a paintbrush on the right side, but can't get it. Benoit tries to buck, Sampo into mount, but Benoit escapes from bottom, landing in guard. Sampo looks for the triangle, not there, followed by the omoplata attempt. Benoit defends, ends up on Sampo's left side as Sampo is on all fours. Tognoni stands them up, Benoit misses on the combo. Sampo forward with the right hand, Benoit looks to counter with a short inside elbow. Uppercut clips for Benoit. Sampo backs him down, lands the body kick. Both land in close, Benoit bloodied. Right hand for Sampo keeps landing down the middle. Benoit winging shots, missing with most of them. 1-2 lands for Sampo just before the horn.
10-9 Sampo - the early takedown and work on the ground, complimented by the continued use of the straight right down the middle earns him the nod.
Sampo charges to the center again, Benoit looking to connect early. Sampo landing the 1-2 again, ducks under for a takedown, and completes it into side control. Sampo looking for the kimura, extends the arm, but Benoit scrambles from the bottom to defend. Sampo still working, now into mount. Benoit pushes off the cage for the reversal, landing in guard. Sampo tries for the triangle, can't hit, and Benoit moves to full back mount with both hooks in. Switches to mount, Sampo gives up the back again. Benoit working for the choke. Benoit around to mount, massive right hand lands, and Sampo gives up his back again. Sampo reverses back into Benoit's guard, lands the elbow over the top. Two minutes left. Body shots from Sampo. Back to work on the paintbrush over on the right side again. Now into mount, but loses the arm. Sampo working the body. One minute. Sampo trying to set up the armbar. Benoit looks to scramble up, Sampo slips around to the back quickly, sinking in the choke. Benoit looks to defend, but it's deep, and Benoit is forced to tap. Really entertaining opener.
Official Result: Josh Sampo defeats Ryan Benoit by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:31 of Round 2.
Analysis: Great start to the night with a fun flyweight contest. Both guys battled hard, but Sampo showed his edge on the ground, looking for submissions from top and bottom, and capitalized instantly when Benoit gave up his back late in the second. Nice start to his UFC career for Sampo.