Barnett snaps with a couple of really crisp jabs but slips on a body kick attempt. Up quickly and Cormier is chasing him across the cage. The two are throwing hard as both are swinging powerful crosses; Cormier snaps Barnett’s head down right into his head. Barnett is looking for the takedown but Cormier is using his footwork to keep the fight standing. Barnett is pushing forward quickly; he doesn’t want to get into exchanges with Cormier as his face is bruised up already from some big shots. Cormier in the clinch and two exchange knees. Cormier is really looking crisp with his striking right now. Clinch from Barnett but he can’t do anything; Cormier’s strikes look significantly faster and crisper than ever. Cormier fakes a double and Cormier lands some big shots going backward. Barnett with another body lock but can’t get Cormier to the ground. Cormier is using push kicks and front kicks really effectively. Barnett lands a great shot and Cormier is rocked, but Cormier grabs a body lock and presses him against the cage as the round ends.
Barnett comes out fast but Cormier lands a really crisp combination. Barnett is taking a lot of damage as he wades in, looking to get the takedown. Barnett is looking to counter more but Cormier is moving in and out before Barnett can land anything significant. Great combination from the Olympian that he finishes with a leg kick. Cormier fights off another bull rush-style takedown attempt from Barnett and lands a hard body shot. Barnett goes for a big right and Cormier ducks into a single-leg. Runs the pipe to get him down and Barnett into full closed guard. Cormier with some light ground and pound as Barnett is trying to get his hips high. Cormier is doing a great job at keeping him where he wants; Barnett goes for a triangle but eats a big elbow for his efforts. Barnett goes for an armbar from the bottom but Cormier easily gets out of it and Cormier lands back in guard. Barnett’s face is bleeding profusely, wearing the proverbial “crimson mask.” Round ends with Cormier landing short strikes to the face.
Cormier 10-9, 20-18 so far.
Barnett comes out more upright than before, looking to strike as opposed to going purely for the takedown. Barnett lands a couple strikes and get Cormier up against the cage, goes for a single-leg but Cormier defends easily. Cormier gets away and we’re back to the middle of the cage. Cormier lands some nice exchanges as Barnett is settling into more of a kickboxing match. Cormier with a single, Cormier defends the pipe running but Cormier picks him up in a high crotch and slams him, landing into side control. Barnett gets out and back to his feet. Barnett is using more kicks now, missing a head kick barely and landing one to the body. Cormier’s boxing is terrific, still. He’s taking Barnett apart with his punches. He’s getting in and out easily; Barnett goes for a knee strike and Cormier catches it but can’t finish. Cormier catches him with a big uppercut and Cormier hits a beautiful head kick then unloads on him. Cormier grabs Barnett’s waist from the rear as Cormier looks to be going for a suplex. Barnett gets up to the cage and rides it out until the round ends.
10-9 Cormier, 30-27 Cormier.
Barnett comes out very aggressively in the fourth but he looks like he’s been beaten up; his face does not look good at all. Goes for the clinch but Cormier fights it off, though, and back to the center. Some light exchanges and Cormier lands a beautiful left hook that staggers Barnett. A good exchange as Barnett misses a knee and Cormier finishes with a big uppercut. Cormier with a beautiful right head kick that lands flush. Barnett bull rushes up and gets Cormier against the fence; Cormier pushes Barnett’s head and rides it out back to the center of the cage. Spinning back fist from Barnett that misses. Barnett is coming forward and throwing big shots but not connecting; Cormier is moving too quick for him. Cormier grabs a single-leg and Barnett goes for a rolling knee bar and grabs a heel hook but Cormier escapes. Cormier lands in Barnett’s closed full guard. Cormier stands back up and both back on their feet. Barnett with another bull rush but can’t finish as the round ends.
Cormier 10-9, 40-36
Barnett comes out much more aggressive but fight stopped at 40-second mark to clean up some water on the mat. Barnett bull rushes him back to the cage again and Cormier fights him off fairly well. Both exchange strikes against the cage and Cormier circles away. Cormier with a nice head kick and Barnett responds with a body kick of his own. Cormier is fighting really smart now as he knows he’s up and letting Barnett chase him. He’s not wading in as he was in the first four rounds. Cormier with some nice striking as he’s hitting some beautiful combinations of his own. Cormier with a double leg and drags Barnett down. Barnett immediately backup but Cormier goes for the throw. Barnett avoids being tossed but winds up with his back against the cage. Cormier has no problem keeping him there as he’s not really working to do anything else right now. Barnett is trying to get off the cage but Cormier is using his body to keep Barnett up against the cage. Cormier lets him go and backs off, running away for the final 10 seconds.
10-9 Cormier, 50-45 Cormier
Official decision: 49-46, 50-45, 50-45 Cormier by unanimous decision.
Gilbert Melendez vs. Josh Thomson
Melendez stalks Thomson down as neither is connecting with light strikes. Flurry but nothing connects from both men. Thomson goes for a trip takedown after a striking exchange but can’t finish. Melendez comes in throwing but Thomson does a good job countering, neither connecting. Melendez grabs the double-leg against the cage and drags him to the ground. Melendez can’t hold him, though, as Thomson wall walks to his knees. Melendez is using his body well to keep Thomson there, though, but Thomson gets to his feet. Melendez is controlling the cage well as he’s being very methodical here. Melendez with the body lock but can’t finish, wild uppercut misses as Thomson with a nice straight. Melendez with a nice straight right, Thomson goes for the takedown but can’t get him down. He’s looking to counter but Melendez isn’t letting him set up those counter strikes. Melendez catches a body kick and gets the takedown and ascramble ends the round.
Melendez pushes the pace early on and is throwing much more. Some exchanges and Melendez goes for the double but Thomson defends well and Melendez backs out. Thomson is waiting and Melendez isn’t throwing wildly to open himself up. Thomson with a nice head kick that hits hands. Melendez gets Thomson against the cage with some powerful body shots and grabs the clinch, Thomson against the cage. Melendez with some nice rangy left jabs, feinting to see how Thomson will react. Melendez is pressing the pace but isn’t throwing wild; everything is combinations and good defense. Thomson with a nice series of strikes that back Melendez up. Some light exchanges as Melendez hits a nice uppercut. Melendez with an eye poke three minutes in. Melendez is countering Thomson and is throwing wild, connecting with a lot. Some terrific exchanges here. Melendez is leading with body shots and following up with straights. Lands a beautiful double-leg and hits a lift, dumping Thomson to the ground. Thomson wall walks back up, though, and Melendez makes him pay as he gets up with some nice uppercuts. Thomson gets away and goes for a single-leg takedown, round ends and he can’t finish it.
Melendez 10-9, 20-18 so far.
Thomson comes out with some urgency as he’s looking to throw as opposed to counter. Melendez eats a head kick that mainly lands off his hands. Thomson is looking for a takedown but Melendez is throwing uppercuts whenever he goes in. Thomson hits a straight left and goes for a double-leg of his own, Melendez defends it well. Melendez is now throwing more body shots and uppercuts and connecting well but his face shows a lot of damage right now. Thomson with an uppercut of his own and both men are turning up their pace significantly. Thomson gets the trip takedown but Melendez backward rolls out of it. Melendez is following weak jabs with solid uppercuts and body shots; Thomson isn’t looking for the takedown as much because of it. Thomson goes for the takedown and eats a number of uppercuts for his effort in a wild flurry Melendez wins. Thomson gets eye poked again and a quick break. Thomson goes for a clinch and Melendez blocks; the champion gets slightly kneed in the face. Melendez with some nice jabs. Round ends with the two waiting to throw but not pulling the trigger.
Melendez 10-9, 30-27
Thomson bringing the fight early but Melendez controlling the center better. Nice double-jab from Melendez followed by an overhand right that misses. Thomson with a nice straight right and a great left head kick. Melendez backs him off with a front push kick. Another great straight from Thomson but Melendez hits the double and dumps him to the ground again. Thomson wall walks his way back up, though. Melendez with a nice combination after Thomson gets up. Melendez backs him off and goes for the double-leg takedown but can’t finish. Backs out and eats an elbow on the exit. Thomson is a bit more aggressive but not connecting with much; Thomson is backing off as soon as he goes for the double jab. Thomson with a trip takedown and actually gets it this time but gives up his back and Thomson gets his back. Locks in the rear naked choke and has a body triangle, Gable grip but Melendez fights it off beautifully. Melendez gets back up but Thomson drags him down again. Melendez survives as the round ends.
Thomson 10-9, Melendez up 39-37
Melendez comes out more aggressive, throwing a bit wilder than he has been. He’s fighting like he feels the fight is tied at two rounds apiece and not up one. Gets the double-leg and takes him down, Thomson back up after flashing his back and we’re back in the center of the cage. Melendez is moving very cautiously now as he’s moving laterally and is sticking and moving now, as opposed to walking him down. Great right from Thomson coming out of a trip sweep attempt. Thomson is winning the exchanges now; Melendez is very leery of his power right now after the end of the fourth. Nice left kick from the champion aims for the head but hits mainly body. Thomson with a wild double-leg and can’t finish, eats a knee on his way back up. Melendez goes for one of his own and can’t finish. Another eye poke with less than two minutes remaining. Melendez is backing off now as Thomson is fighting more desperately now. Wild exchange from Thomson as Melendez is fighting not to lose now as opposed to trying to win. Thomson is using great head movement and counters. Melendez with a double-leg and gets stuffed. Thomson pours it on in the final minute. Takedown by Thomson off the trip and Melendez pulls closed guard. Thirty seconds left and Melendez is hitting some solid punches from the bottom. Round and fight ends with Thomson on top.
Thomson 10-9, Melendez is up on our scorecards 48-47. Wouldn’t be a surprise if Thomson snuck out a 48-47 decision out of this; Melendez looks worse for wear and Thomson has the late fight momentum.
Official decision: 48-47 Thomson, 48-47 Melendez, 48-47 Melendez. Melendez wins by split decision.
Rafael Cavalcante vs. Mike Kyle
Big knee from Cavalvante and connects followed by a big right. Kyle is ROCKED! Cavalcante pounces on him and unloads, grabs a standing guillotine and pulls guard. Kyle tries to slam him but Cavalcante holds on, rolls into mount and Kyle taps at: 33 of the first round.
Winner: Cavalcante wins by guillotine choke at: 33 of the first round
Nah-Shon Burrell vs. Chris Spang
Both come out swinging as there’s no feeling-out process. Both are throwing wildly and not connecting flush, though. Burrell wins the early exchanges as he’s using a nice double jab to gauge distance. Spang attacks the lead leg with and outside leg kick that connects. Spang with a head kick and the two start throwing, Spang grabs the clinch and gets Burrell against the cage. Goes to the single but can’t finish, Burrell fights it off and gets back up but is still against the cage. Spang lets go and back to the center, Burrell connects. Spang connects with a big left and Burrell is ROCKED! Spang unloading out of the Muay Thai plumb as Burrell is eating a lot of knees. Burrell is in survival mode right now but isn’t trying to defend himself all that well. Spang is brutalizing him right now and Burrell just sorts of falls down, out of it. Referee Josh Rosenthal steps in and stops it at 3:44.
Winner: Chris Spang wins via TKO due to strikes at 3:44 of the first round