Mike Pyle rallied to upset Rick Story at UFC 160. | Donald Miralle/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
Rick Story was perhaps one punch away from stopping Mike Pyle, but his inability to finish the job came back to haunt him.
Pyle (25-8-1, 8-3 UFC) rode his treacherous guard and a one-sided third round to a split decision over Story at UFC 160 “Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2” on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. All three cageside judges saw it 29-28, two of them giving the nod to Pyle. The 37-year-old former World Extreme Cagefighting champion has won his last four fights.
Story (15-7, 8-5 UFC) nearly made quick work of the Dresden, Tenn., native, as he floored him with a wicked straight left in the first round and swarmed with punches from above. A badly dazed Pyle somehow weathered the onslaught, forced the Brave Legion export deeper into the fight and slowly drained his gas tank. He made his move in round three, where he attacked a fading Story with a series of standing elbows and almost locked up a late armbar.
Bermudez Ekes Out Split Verdict Over Holloway
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 finalist Dennis Bermudez edged Max Holloway by controversial split decision in an undercard duel at 145 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28, two of them siding with Bermudez (11-3, 4-1 UFC).
Holloway (7-2, 3-2 UFC) controlled a good portion of the opening 10 minutes with his superior standup and excellent takedown defense, rattling his foe with a spinning back kick to the face in the first round. Bermudez turned the tide with a strong showing in round three, where he grounded the Hawaiian with takedowns and grinded on him with elbows from top position, leaving visible damage on the 21-year-old Hawaiian’s face.
Bermudez has won four straight.
Whittaker Bounces Fellow ‘Ultimate Fighter’ Winner Smith
“The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” winner Robert Whittaker dispatched Colton Smith with a clean left hook and follow-up ground strikes in a preliminary welterweight contest. Whittaker (11-2, 2-0 UFC) drew the curtain 41 seconds into round three, as he posted his fourth win in five appearances.
A wrestler by trade, Smith (3-2, 1-1 UFC) never got his takedown game in gear. Whittaker weathered a first-round knockdown, pecked away from the perimeter and landed in combination, moving forward and backward. Smith slowly wilted under the punishment and had little left in the tank at the start of the final round. Less than a minute in, Whittaker planted him on his backside with a beautiful left hook and finished it soon after.
Nurmagomedov Moves to 20-0
Khabib Nurmagomedov kept his perfect MMA record intact, as he procured a unanimous decision over Blackzilians representative Abel Trujillo in a one-sided undercard matchup at 155 pounds. Nurmagomedov (20-0, 4-0 UFC) swept the scorecards by identical 30-27 scores.
Trujillo (10-5, 1-1 UFC), who entered the cage on the strength of a five-fight winning streak, never had a chance. Nurmagomedov overwhelmed the 29-year-old Greensboro, N.C., native with a series of takedowns, many of them from the rear waistlock position.
The undefeated Russian threatened with submissions throughout the first round, and Trujillo’s situation only grew direr from there.
‘Wonderboy’ Thompson Decisions Burrell
Five-time world kickboxing champion Stephen Thompson rebounded from his first professional defeat with a unanimous verdict over Nah-Shon Burrell in an undercard clash at 170 pounds. All three judges struck the decision for Thompson (7-1, 2-1 UFC): 29-28, 30-27 and 29-28.
A replacement for the injured Amir Sadollah, Burrell (9-3, 1-1 UFC) was stymied by repeated clinches from the South Carolinian. Thompson engaged the Strikeforce import in close quarters and controlled much of the fight along the fence. Burrell did his best work in the third round, where he spun around a fatigued Thompson with a left hook and attacked with a series of knees to the midsection. However, the finish he needed never materialized.
Roop Spoils Bowles’ Return
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 semifinalist George Roop stopped former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Brian Bowles on second-round punches in a preliminary bantamweight affair. Appearing for the first time since November 2011, Bowles (10-3, 2-2 UFC) succumbed to the blows 1:43 into round two.
Roop (14-9-1, 4-5 UFC) endured some difficulty in the first round. Bowles staggered him with a right hand behind the ear, dropped him with another and later threatened the Apex MMA representative with a mounted guillotine choke. Roop survived and pushed the match to a second round. There, he brought down Bowles with a stinging straight left and finished him with a series of unanswered punches on the ground.
Stephens Bloodies, Outpoints Payan
Takedowns, ground-and-pound and a heavy dose of leg kicks carried Jeremy Stephens to a unanimous decision over Arizona Combat Sports export Estevan Payan in a gory undercard match at 145 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for Stephens (21-9, 8-8 UFC): 30-26 (twice) and 30-27.
The blood spilled by Payan (14-4, 0-1 UFC) after he absorbed a first-round elbow from Stephens was the story. It was everywhere -- in puddles. Stephens kept the Arizonan off-balance with repeated kicks to the legs, a smattering of right hands and a series of well-timed takedowns. With that, the 26-year-old Alliance MMA representative put an end to the first three-fight losing streak of his career.