Dan Henderson took three rounds from Mauricio Rua at UFC 139. | (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
In an epic encounter between two former Pride Fighting Championships cornerstones, Dan Henderson emerged victorious.
Backed by his vicious right hand and indomitable will, Henderson captured a narrow unanimous decision from Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in the UFC 139 headliner on Saturday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. All three judges scored it 48-47 for the 41-year-old Henderson, a two-time Olympian who has pieced together one of the most impressive resumes in all of mixed martial arts.
Henderson (29-8, 6-2 UFC) was the dominant force in rounds one through three, as he wobbled Rua numerous times with his thudding right hand. They exchanged violently throughout the grueling 25-minute battle. Rua seemed to teeter on the brink of defeat more than once, including in the third round, when Henderson blasted the Brazilian with right hands, followed him to the canvas and swarmed with hammerfists. Somehow, Shogun survived. However, when he rose to his feet, he was a battered and bloodied mess, his white shorts stained pink.
“That guy can take an F-ing punch. I hit him hard,” said Henderson, who has rattled off four wins in a row. “I thought I could finish him in the first two or three rounds. He finished the fight strong, but I thought I had the first three rounds easily.
“I should have had him finished, but the gas tank was running a little low at that point,” he added. “It very well could be [the toughest fight of my career]. It started out strong for me, but he hung in there with great heart, like a champion should.”
The tide turned in Rua’s favor in the fourth round, as he wobbled Henderson, struck for multiple takedowns and mounted the Team Quest co-founder. With Henderson clearly on fumes, Rua (20-6, 4-4 UFC) capitalized in the fifth period, as he scored with an early takedown and kept Henderson pinned to the mat. He mounted the former two-division Pride champion five times in the final round, only to fall short on the scorecards in one of the most unforgettable fights in MMA history.
“I’ll come back stronger next time,” Rua said. “I’m sorry.”
Classic Silva Barrage Finishes Le
In the co-main event, Brazilian icon Wanderlei Silva stopped former Strikeforce champion Cung Le on second-round strikes in a key middleweight affair. Le, a vintage Silva barrage leaving him with a badly mangled nose, wilted under the pressure of the man they call “The Axe Murderer” 4:49 into round two.
Silva survived some harrowing exchanges in the first round, including a spinning-back fist from Le (7-2, 0-1 UFC) that left him momentarily stunned. However, Le’s conditioning seemed to fail him late in the opening frame, a fact which left him stationary in front of Silva.
In the second round, Silva (34-11-1, 1 NC, 4-6 UFC) moved forward, cracked Le with a straight right and swarmed. The Brazilian snatched a front headlock and unloaded with knees, as he continued to soften the fading Le. Later, he cinched the Thai plum and launched a vicious knee directly into Le’s nose. The Vietnamese middleweight cringed in pain and retreated to the cage. There was no escape. Another violent barrage from Silva left him on all fours and led to the finish via punches.
“It’s an amazing moment for me. We never give up,” Silva said. “He’s a real tough guy. He kicked me hard. After I hit him, I felt that [it was the] moment [for] the finish.”
Faber Guillotine Stops Bowles
Urijah Faber submitted fellow former WEC champion Brian Bowles with a second-round guillotine choke in a pivotal bantamweight showdown. The decisive finish came 1:47 into round two.
Faber (26-5, 2-1 UFC) roared out of the gate in the first period with a slam takedown that led directly to heavy, elbow-infested ground-and-pound. Outgunned on the feet and on the ground, Bowles started to unravel after Faber split his defenses with a crackling right uppercut in round two. “The California Kid” followed with a knee and wicked elbows and punches from the top, snatching the guillotine as Bowles (10-2, 2-1 UFC) moved for a single-leg in desperation. From there, the tapout was inevitable.
“I know that Bowles is very tough,” Faber said. “His biggest thing is that he’s mentally strong, and that’s my biggest thing. I felt like I could go anywhere in this fight, because then he’ll stand there and trade with me, because he’s a warrior.”
The victory, Faber’s third in four fights, likely secures a rematch with reigning bantamweight king Dominick Cruz. Faber lost a unanimous decision to Cruz in July.
“That’s right, guys,” Faber said. “That’s how you finish fights. Dominick, you can run, but you can’t hide, homeboy. Throw some gel in that widow’s peak. Let’s do some work. Let’s do battle.”
Kampmann Outduels Story at 170
Crisp, accurate strikes and superior clinch work carried Martin Kampmann to a split decision over Rick Story in a featured matchup between two world-ranked welterweights. Two of the three cageside judges scored it for Kampmann by 30-27 and 29-28 counts; a third cast a dissenting 29-28 ruling for Story.
Story (13-5, 6-3 UFC) was effective early on, as he battered Kampmann’s body with brutal punches and connected on a left hook-standing left elbow combination that opened a cut near the Dane’s right eye. Both men were bleeding by the end of round one. However, Kampmann’s accurate punches and ability to handle the rugged Story in the clinch proved the difference. He turned to his right hand often and landed it with increasing regularity.
Kampmann (18-5, 9-4 UFC) salted away the fight in round three, as he returned to his feet following two Story takedowns and responded with one of his own. Late in the period, the Dane took Story’s back, secured a dominant position with a body triangle and threatened to finish it with a rear-naked choke. The victory snapped a two-fight losing streak for Kampmann.
Bonnar Dominates Kingsbury to Decision
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 1 finalist Stephan Bonnar ran a ground-fighting clinic on Kyle Kingsbury, as he cruised to a one-sided unanimous decision in a light heavyweight showcase. Bonnar (14-7, 8-6 UFC) swept the scorecards, with one judge awarding him a pair of 10-8 rounds: 30-27, 30-25 and 30-27.
Kingsbury (11-3, 1 NC, 4-2 UFC), who entered the Octagon on a four-fight winning streak, could not stay on his feet. Bonnar grounded him in all three rounds, mounted him in the first and dominated him with superior topside grappling throughout the 15-minute encounter. “The American Psycho” passed guard at will and never allowed Kingsbury a moment’s rest.
“I’m not used to fans booing during my fights, but I’m trying to get wins in here,” said Bonnar, who has won three consecutive fights. “I felt like I had good control on the ground, and I didn’t want to risk it and get knocked out or something silly. I wanted to bang it out and see if I could get it to the ground and submit him. I come from a good jiu-jitsu background. I came up with Carlson Gracie. God bless his soul. He was the original mixed martial artist.”
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