The highly-anticipated rematch of what is widely considered to be the best fight of 2010 and one of the more memorable MMA fights of all time ended abrubptly and anti-climactically, as Pettis simply caught an overly aggressive Henderson.
Henderson came in with a sound gameplan. He wanted to take Pettis to the ground, which would keep the challenger from using his flashy, unorthodox striking arsenal. The fight did go to the ground, but not because Henderson took it there with his wrestling. He tried for takedowns on three occasions, and was stopped all three times. But when Pettis slipped on an attempted kick, Henderson had his opening.
In his haste to put Pettis away, Henderson left an arm exposed, and Pettis slapped on the armbar that ended the fight.
There was a bit of confusion at first, as Henderson only verbally submitted, so the live crowd wasn't aware of what had happened until Henderson stood up and Pettis began to celebrate.
Pettis called out Jose Aldo, the UFC Featherweight Champion after the fight. Whether the two could potentially meet at 155 for the lightweight title, at 145 for Aldo's belt, or at a catchweight, would have to be determined. There has long been speculation that Aldo will eventually move to 155, as he cuts a ton of weight to fight at 145, and it often affects his performance in the championship rounds. Pettis, though, was set to challenge Aldo at 145 earlier this year, before suffering an injury that forced the fight to be called off.
Henderson vs. Pettis capped an entertaining main card that featured a great opener, a good, if controversial semi-main, and an average to slightly above average midcard.
UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis
Round 1: Henderson used his right hand to set up a takedown attempt, but Pettis fought and fought and shut down the attempt. Leg kick by Henderson. Henderson shot again and was stuffed again. Henderson landed a kick but Pettis got a good right hand in. Henderson failed at another takedown attempt. Pettis with a series of kicks that landed to the body. Pettis slipped and Henderson pounced, ending up on top, in Pettis's guard. Pettis slapped on an armbar and Henderson verbally submitted.
Result: Anthony Pettis defeated Benson Henderson via submission (armbar) at 4:31 of Round 1 to win the UFC Lightweight Championship.
Frank Mir vs. Josh Barnett
Round 1: Barnett came out firing and looked to be quicker than Mir, but Mir weathered the storm and tied Barnett up. Barnett landed some knees to the body, but Mir threw some hands that landed on Barnett's head. Barnett with an elbow as they stayed tied up against the cage. Barnett with a knee to the body and an elbow to the face. Barnett caught him flush with a knee to the face that appeared to knock Mir out. The referee stopped the fight. Mir jumped back to his feet and started complaining about the stoppage. the crowd didn't like the call either. When the guy goes limp, as Mir did, you have to stop the fight.
Result: Josh Barnett defeated Frank Mir via TKO (knee, strikes) at 1:56 of Round 1.
Clay Guida vs. Chad Mendes
Round 1: Lots of movement early and not a whole lot of action. Mendes applied a standing guillotine but Guida scrambled out of it. Guida landed a high kick. Mendes with a takedown. Guida grabbed an overhook and kept good control of Mendes from the bottom. Mendes slipped around to take Guida's back at the ten second hammer, but couldn't do anything. The round ended standing.
Round 2: Swing and a miss over the top from Mendes. Leg kick by Guida. Guida accidentally caught him in the cup with a low kick. On the restart, Mendes landed a right hand. Guida shot for a takedown but got stuffed. Mendes tagged Guida with a knee as Guida got back to his feet. Guida shot again and was stuffed again. Mendes got a takedown of his own. Guida ended up giving Mendes his neck, which allowed him to get to his feet and slip away. Guida had a front kick checked. Guida was the aggressor, but couldn't land much of anything. Mendes showed some signs of fatigue towards the end of the round, but this was another round for him.
Round 3: Guida came out firing from weird angles. Mendes tagged him with a counter and dropped him. Guida briefly got back to his feet, but Mendes landed another hard right hand that put him down again. A couple of shots on the ground and it was over.
Result: Chad Mendes defeated Clay Guida via TKO (strikes) at :30 of Round 3.
Brandon Vera vs. Ben Rothwell
Round 1: Vera with a leg kick and Rothwell with a right hand counter. Big right hand by Rothwell. Nice body kick by Vera. Left hand by Vera. Another body kick by Vera landed. Vera landed another kick to the ribs and Rothwell was too slow on the counterpunch. Rothwell threw but the punch glanced off Vera's shoulder. Rothwell caught Vera with a kick to the cup that caused a break in the action. The horn sounded right after the restart. Vera's round, but Rothwell hung in there with him.
Round 2: Rothwell tied Vera up against the fence, but Vera slipped away quickly. Vera landed a combination. Vera checked a head kick from Rothwell. Leg kick by Rothwell. Vera missed with a high kick. Vera got on his bicycle and tried to tire Rothwell out. Rothwell boxed him in and landed a shot. Vera landed a shot and got on his bike again. Not a great round. A lot of movement and not much else.
Round 3: Vera tried to continue dancing, but Rothwell had finally seen enough. He found his opening, charged at Vera and started firing against the fence. Rothwell landed about a dozen punches and a big knee that dropped Vera. A few shots on the ground and it was over.
Result: Ben Rothwell defeated Brandon Vera via TKO (strikes) at 1:54 of Round 3.
Dustin Poirier vs. Erik Koch
Round 1: Trading leg kicks early. Poirier pushed the pace. He tagged Koch, Koch slipped and went down. Poirier pounced, but was too aggressive and found himself caught in a deep triangle. Poirier came dangerously close to passing out, before escaping. Koch tried to slap it on again, but Koch got back to his feet. Poirier bulled Koch into the fence, but Koch used an overhook to control Poirier's right arm. Poirier used knee strikes to escape the tie-up. He tagged Koch with a left hand, then dropped him with another. Koch somehow survived a vicious onslaught of ground strikes and worked his way back to his feet. Poirier then took Koch down and applied a d'arce choke, but Koch just did survive the round. Great round.
Round 2: Koch found himself beaten to the punch time and again. Poirier was just too fast for him. Poirier with a straight left hand and a right that glanced off of Koch's chin. Poirier got a trip takedown. Poirier took his back, then worked around to full mount. Poirier again couldn't finish the fight, and Koch again got back to his feet. Koch wanted to grapple, but Poirier looked to create separation so that he could fire off strikes. Koch did well to tie him up towards the end of the round, but this was another round for Poirier.
Round 3: Poirier again looked to strike, while Koch wanted to grapple. Poirier dug deep for a double-leg, but Koch stuffed him. Poirier set up another double-leg attempt with an elbow strike up high, but Koch stuffed him again. Poirier tripped Koch, but Koch ended up on top in Poirier's guard. Poirier kept a very high guard and Koch looked to be too tired to pass it. Koch eventually rolled Poirier and took his back. Koch applied a body triangle and looked to flatten him out, but he just didn't have enough left in the tank. Great opener.
Result: Dustin Poirier defeated Erik Koch via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27).
Gleison Tibau def. Jamie Varner via split decision
Tim Elliott def. Louis Gaudinot via unanimous decision
Hyun Gyu Lim def. Pascal Krauss via TKO
Chico Camus def. Kyung Ho Kang via unanimous decision
Soa Palelei def. Nikita Krylov via TKO
Al Iaquinta def. Ryan Couture via unanimous decision
Magnus Cedenblad def. Jared Hamman via technical submission