Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) made its inaugural trip to Mexico on Saturday night (Nov. 15, 2014) for the exciting UFC 180: "Werdum vs Hunt" pay-per-view event live from the Mexico City Arena in Mexico City, Mexico. Prior to the PPV main card, the event was kicked off with an enthralling set of "Prelims" on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) and UFC Fight Pass.
Full results and play-by-play here.
The undercard featured a ton of exciting bouts and finishes, including the Featherweight and Bantamweight tournament finals from the recent season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): Latin America.
In the "Prelims" main event, Yair Rodriguez became the TUF: Latin America Featherweight tournament winner with a sensational unanimous decision victory over Leonardo Morales in an early contender for "Fight of the Night"
Check out the prelims recap below:
Leonardo Morales vs. Yair Rodriguez
The TUF: Latin America Featherweight final saw a war of attrition between Leonardo Morales and Yair Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, the Mexican national, did not take long to take down Morales and move directly into full mount. After a slick transition, Rodriguez took back mount on Morales and began to fish for a rear-naked choke. Morales defended well, spinning out and landing into Rodriguez's guard. After thwarting two submission attempts from the native Mexican, Mario Yamasaki stopped the bout and stood the competitors up due to a cage grab from Morales. On the restart, both men showed off some savvy striking, but Morales clipped Rodriguez with a big left hook. With not much time left in the round, Morales was unable to capitalize off hurting his opponent late.
The second round was just as exciting as the first, as after a short exchange on the feet, Rodriguez took down Morales and landed a brutal right hand on the mat. After a stalemate on the ground, Rodriguez stood up only to throw a wild cartwheel kick that unfortunately didn't land. The Mexican used the position to attack with a heel hook, but Morales was unwilling to quit. The round ended with a highlight reel upkick from Rodriguez.
Another third round hug to start, and the two men began to swing leather just moments later. A low blow from Morales stopped the action momentarily, but on the restart Morales put the pressure on Rodriguez in hopes of ending the fight. Hurt, but unfazed, the Mexican fired back with combinations of his own. This time, Morales dropped due to a low blow, and the fight was stopped once again. On the second restart the two men continued to exchange, neither man giving up an inch. Rodriguez stalled Morales with a clinch on the fence momentarily, but a wild throw from Morales had both men scramble to their feet. The final half of the round was yet another back and forth exchange, as the exciting TUF finale came to a close.
Alejandro Perez vs. Jose Quinonez
The TUF: Latin America Bantamweight final ended with controversy as Jose Quinonez lost a decision due to an illegal headbutt in the third round.
The first round was scrappy as both men landed big shots, but refused to wilt under the pressure. Jose Quinonez came out firing early, and reversed Alejandro Perez on a takedown attempt to land on top momentarily. Once they got back to the feet, Quinonez stunned Perez with a nice knee, but he walked right through it. Perez then began to open up on the feet, hurting his Team Velasquez teammate late in the round, showing off a nice array of strikes.
The second round was more of the same, as Perez was landing the harder shots while Quinonez was content to pitter-patter. Perez was obviously in control, but was unable to really crack and hurt his opponent. After hurting Perez, Quinonez literally ran after his Team Velasquez teammate in order to follow up, but he was unable to finish the fight.
After a hug to start round three, Perez began throwing wild haymakers looking for the knockout and clipped Quinonez. After a few more hard shots, Perez suplexed Quinonez leading to a deep no-hooks rear-naked choke. Quinonez broke free, but was nearly submitted by a futile armbar. With Quinonez on top he began to land heavy ground and pound on Perez. After several hard shots, Quinonez attempted an arm-triangle that failed. Moments later he blatantly headbutted Perez, and Big John McCarthy took two points away for the errant blow late in the fight. On the restart, Quinonez desperately looked for the finish via submission, but Perez refused to tap out.
Jessica Eye vs. Leslie Smith
Well it didn't take long for these women to get after it.
The entire first round was contested on the feet, and neither woman took their foot off the gas for all five minutes. No. 6 ranked Jessica Eye came out firing, nailing No. 13 ranked Leslie Smith early and often. Smith's chin held tough as she returned fire with a few impressive head kicks of her own, but Eye was clearly getting the better of the exchanges. With about a minute left in the round Eye opened up a nasty gash on Smith's left ear, and continued to pepper her opponent with sensational combinations.
The second round began with yet another exciting exchange in the middle, but Smith's damaged ear (pic) could not take much more punishment as Eye continued to land hard shots. Herb Dean stopped the fight to have Smith's ear checked, and on the broadcast you could clearly see her ear literally hanging off. The doctor of course called a stop to the fight, avoiding a potential disaster that may have seen Smith lose her ear altogether.
Humberto Brown vs. Gabriel Benitez
Round one had Gabriel Benitez on his back for more than four minutes, and yet the judges still could have scored it in favor of the Mexican national. After Brown survived a deep guillotine early, Benitez followed up with several more futile submission attempts. Whether it was poor technique or just the heart of Brown, Benitez could not secure the finish in the first round as he stayed very busy off his back.
Second round was mostly contested on the feet, with Benitez getting the better of Brown in the striking exchanges. Nothing of worth was really landing for either man, but an errant low-blow from Brown cost him a point deduction from referee Mario Yamasaki. From then on Brown essentially stalled on the fence as he tried to get Benitez to the mat.
After a hug to start the third round, Benitez landed a knee before locking up a deep standing guillotine that put Brown to sleep in highlight-reel fashion. A fight that was looking destined for the judges' scorecards ended with one of the more wild submission of 2014.
Henry Briones vs. Guido Cannetti
The second fight of the evening was an exciting back and forth affair between yet another duo from TUF: Latin America.
Round one was all Guido Cannetti. The Argentinian got clipped in the first 15 seconds of the bout, but from then on threw an offensive onslaught towards Henry Briones. Wild exchanges on both the feet and mat had the crowd going crazy, and Cannetti was showing off his impressive striking technique with all sorts of kicks and punches. Late in the round Cannetti hurt Briones with body shots, but the Mexican held tough in front of his home crowd, surviving where many other men would have wilted.
The second round started the same with Cannetti once again opening up on his feet, but a blistering uppercut from Briones had Cannetti in all sorts of trouble. As the Argentinian fought to regain his senses, Briones latched on the fight ending rear-naked choke.
Marco Beltran vs. Marlon Vera
The Mexican fans were going wild for hometown UFC debutant Marco Beltran in the very first fight of the evening,
The fight began with an exciting exchange between the two TUF: Latin America products. Once they clinched on the fence, Vera was attacking with a rear-naked choke, but could not finish the submission with only got one hook in. Once Beltran worked to his feet he slammed Vera onto the mat, but was nearly caught in a triangle choke just moments later. After various attempts, it seemed that no matter what submission Vera threw at Beltran, he could not finish the Mexican national. Vera ultimately reversed Beltran with an omoplata to get on top, but an illegal axe kick to the groin allowed Beltran to get to his feet.
The second round was much of the same as Vera got the early takedown, and moments later transitioned into back mount. Once again, Vera could not submit Beltran with multiple attempts at a rear-naked choke, and the Mexican was able to reverse position and land some hard elbows. The second half of the round was controlled by Beltran, as he landed a plethora of shots on the grounded Vera.
The third round once again hit the mat quickly, and it was evident that Vera was the aggressor. As Beltran attempted to squirm his way out of Vera's vice-like grip, he found himself eating a bevvy of elbows and punches from Vera. After nearly five minutes of hellacious ground and pound and more failed submission attempts, the final bell rang. In the end, Vera's last gasp was not enough as Beltran did enough to earn the unanimous decision victory.
Check out the full UFC 180 "Prelims" quick results below:
Yair Rodriguez def. Leonardo Morales by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Alejandro Perez def. Jose Quinonez by unanimous decision (29-26, 29-26, 28-27)
Jessica Eye def. Leslie Smith by TKO (doctor's stoppage) at 1:30 of Round Two
Gabriel Benitez def. Humberto Brown by submission (guillotine) at 0:30 of Round Three
Henry Briones def. Guido Cannetti by submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:44 of Round Two
Marco Beltran def. Marlon Vera by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
For main card results and play-by-play click here.