Benson Henderson knows how to win a five-round fight.
The former Ultimate Fighting Championship and World Extreme Cagefighting champion broke out all the tools, as he earned a split decision over Jorge Masvidal in the UFC Fight Night “Henderson vs. Masvidal” headliner on Saturday at the Olympic Gymnastics Arena in Seoul. Scores were 48-47 and 49-46 for Henderson, 48-47 for Masvidal, who replaced the injured Thiago Alves on short notice.
Not much separated the two reformed lightweights. Henderson threw every weapon in his arsenal at the American Top Team vet, from heel strikes, shoulder strikes and upward elbows in the clinch to simple one-two combinations and heavy leg kicks on the feet. Masvidal zeroed in on the MMA Lab standout’s body with kicks for much of the fight, and it almost paid off. The Miami native made a last-ditch effort to take the judges out of the equation in the fifth round, as he drew Henderson into a high-elbow guillotine and placed him in legitimate danger for several moments. “Smooth” scrambled out of the choke, found his way to safety and pushed the bout to the final bell.
Henderson has posted back-to-back victories since moving to 170 pounds.
‘Stun Gun’ Steamrolls Waters
Dong Hyun Kim took care of Jackson-Wink MMA representative Dominic Waters with first-round punches and elbows from the mounted crucifix in the welterweight co-main event. Waters (9-4, 0-2 UFC), who answered the short-notice call when Masvidal was moved to the headliner, met his end 3:11 into round one.
Kim (21-3-1, 12-3 UFC) lured “The Ultimate Fighter 16” alum into the clinch, threw him to the mat and advanced immediately to the mounted crucifix. There was no escape. Kim unleashed a sustained volley of elbows and punches until referee Leon Roberts was forced to intervene.
The “Stun Gun” has compiled a 6-1 mark across his past seven appearances, losing only to Tyron Woodley.
Unbeaten Mina Overcomes Akiyama
Kings MMA’s Alberto Mina withstood a late push from Yoshihiro Akiyama to remain unbeaten, as he escaped their featured battle at 170 pounds with a split decision. All three judges scored it 29-28, two of them for Mina (12-0, 2-0 UFC).
Mina struck for a tactical takedown late in a close first round and had the 2006 K-1 Hero’s tournament winner reeling with punches in the second. A dazed Akiyama (14-6, 2-5 UFC) retreated to his corner between rounds two and three, having been blasted by a left hook-punctuated flurry and follow-up punches. Akiyama’s investment in leg kicks paid serious dividends in the third round. He landed two- and three-punch combinations on the immobile Mina, whose lead leg had been painted deep purple from repeated shin-to-thigh impacts. Akiyama scrambled into top position in the final minute and attacked with punches and hammerfists, but he failed to author the finish he needed.
The 40-year-old Akiyama has lost five of his last six fights.
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Fast-Rising Choi Sinks Sicilia
Blue-chip Korean prospect Doo Ho Choi wiped out “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 15 graduate Sam Sicilia with first-round punches in their featherweight showcase. Choi (13-1, 2-0 UFC) brought it to a close 93 seconds into round one.
Sicilia (15-6, 5-5 UFC) had no answer for the Sengoku alum’s power and precision. Choi sat him down with a two-punch counter combination, reset after absorbing some thudding punches in return and then floored Sicilia with an exquisite right hook-left hook combo. The 24-year-old pounced with punches, forging the finish as the beaten Sicilia spit out his mouthpiece in a sign that he had endured enough.
Choi will carry an 11-fight winning streak into his next outing.
Yang Streak Reaches Three
Korean Top Team’s Dongi Yang put away former Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion Jake Collier with second-round punches in their undercard encounter at 185 pounds. Collier (9-3, 1-2 UFC) succumbed to blows 1:50 into round two.
Yang (13-3, 2-3 UFC) had to navigate some difficulty. Collier briefly dropped him with a right hook in the first round and later reversed a takedown into top position. The tide turned in the second. Yang broke free from an ill-advised guillotine choke and assaulted the American with postured ground-and-pound. Collier snatched a kneebar out of desperation, only to be met with punches and hammerfists that forced him to turtle and prompted referee Herb Dean to act.
The 30-year-old Yang has won three in a row.
De la Torre Spoils Nam Homecoming
MMA Lab export Mike de la Torre spoiled the homecoming of Yui Chul Nam, as he captured a split verdict over the onetime Road Fighting Championship titleholder in a preliminary featherweight pairing. Scores were 29-28 and 29-28 for de la Torre, 29-28 for Nam.
In a battle marked by wild exchanges, de la Torre’s clean punches and airtight takedown defense provided the difference. The left hook was his money punch and nearly took out Nam (18-6-1, 1-2 UFC) in the first round. “The Korean Bulldozer” continued to press the action with a dogged clinch and looping power shots, eating punches for his troubles and suffering significant damage to both eyes. De la Torre (14-5, 2-2 UFC) steered clear of danger in the third round, wobbled the South Korean with a head kick and scored consistently with left hooks and sneaky right uppercuts.
Exhausted Bang Outduels Kuntz
Clubbing power punches and two attempted guillotines spurred Tae Hyun Bang to a split decision against American Top Team’s Leo Kuntz in a three-round undercard duel at 155 pounds. All three cageside judges saw it 29-28, two of them giving the nod to Bang (18-9, 2-2 UFC).
Bang dropped his counterpart with a savage left hook in the first round, swarmed with hammerfists for a potential finish and later sat down on a guillotine. However, he ran out of gas soon after, his commitment to the choke coming at a cost. Kuntz (17-3-1, 0-2 UFC) rebounded in the second, where he struck for a double-leg takedown, maneuvered to the back, threaded his hooks and fished for the rear-naked choke. Bang refused to give in, as the former Deep champion freed himself, fought through exhaustion and escaped to round three. There, he threatened with another guillotine and cracked Kuntz with stinging lefts and right hands over the top.
Late Surge Propels Ham
High-volume punching, slick counterstriking and effective kicks to the body carried former Jewels champion Seo Hee Ham to a unanimous decision over Cortney Casey in a preliminary women’s strawweight clash. Ham (16-6, 1-1 UFC) swept the scorecards with matching 29-28 marks from the judges.
Casey (4-3, 0-2 UFC) broke out of the gate with a strong first round, as she stunned the South Korean with a head kick and leaned on a clear power advantage in the standup. However, her momentum did not last. Ham applied merciless pressure across the final 10 minutes, tearing into the Hawaii-based Arizonan with punching combinations and repeated body kicks.
Ham, 28, has won seven of her past eight bouts.
Unbeaten Serrano Downs Yao
Freddy Serrano needed less than a minute to dispose of Zhikui Yao, as the 2008 Olympian wrecked “The Ultimate Fighter: China” graduate’s right elbow with a takedown in the first round of their brief undercard encounter at 125 pounds. The end came 44 seconds into round one, with Yao (2-3, 1-2 UFC) in understandable distress.
Serrano (3-0, 2-0 UFC) ducked under aggressive punches from the 24-year-old, executed the takedown and delivered a series of unabated left hands. Yao could not defend himself, as his right elbow had been dislocated during the initial fall. Referee Greg Kleynjans was on the scene in a blink to call for the stoppage.
Beltran Edges Tentative Ning
Marco Beltran posted his second straight victory, as he took a split decision from “The Ultimate Fighter: China” winner Guangyou Ning in a preliminary bantamweight affair. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Beltran (7-3, 2-0 UFC).
Neither man offered much offense in what was a tepid confrontation. Beltran circled out of danger and struck for a late takedown in the first round, weathered a ground exchange in the second and did his best work in the third, where he assaulted the Tiger Muay Thai rep with a few punching combinations and a burst of knees in close quarters. His efforts resulted in a gnarly horizontal gash below Ning’s left eyebrow.
The loss snapped a three-fight winning streak for Ning (5-3-1, 2-1 UFC).
Steele Slam, Elbows KO Kim
Former CES MMA champion Dominique Steele knocked out Dong Hyun Kim with a third-round slam and follow-up elbows in an undercard scrap at 170 pounds. A replacement for the injured Hyun Gyu Lim, Kim (13-7-3, 0-1 UFC) went limp 27 seconds into round three.
Steele (14-6, 1-1 UFC) afforded the South Korean judoka few openings. The 27-year-old mixed some damaging clinch work with well-timed takedowns and punishing elbow-laced ground-and-pound. Early in the third round, Steele closed the distance, hoisted Kim skyward, slammed him to the canvas and beat him senseless with a volley for rapid-fire elbows.
Steele has rattled off three wins in his last four appearances.