Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) put on a show in Broomfield, Colorado last evening (Sat., Feb. 14, 2015), with the fans going wild for the latter half of the action-packed UFC Fight Night 60 mixed martial arts (MMA) event. After a night that kicked off with a few terrible fights on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), Benson Henderson, Max Holloway, and Neil Magny saved the Valentine's Day show with sensational performances.
Former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson put on a career-defining performance in the main event of the evening, submitting the highly touted Brandon Thatch via a rear-naked choke in the fourth round of an outstanding fight (highlights here). Snapping a two-fight losing streak, "Smooth" earned a victory against all the odds, and could be looking at an interesting future in the welterweight division.
In the co-main event, Max Holloway continued his ascension up the featherweight division's rankings, earning an impressive unanimous decision victory over the incredibly tough Cole Miller. In a fight that provided some of the night's best highlights, "Blessed" proved to be a Top-10 UFC featherweight.
With that quick recap of the night's marquee bouts, here are your biggest winners, as well as the runners-up from Colorado.
Biggest Winner: Benson Henderson
In one of the most inspiring performances in years, career lightweight Benson Henderson defeated welterweight wrecking machine Brandon Thatch via rear-naked choke in the fourth round of an incredible battle.
"Smooth" had all the odds stacked against him as he took this fight on just two weeks' notice -- after losing to Donald Cerrone via a hotly decision only last month -- in a weight class above against a stronger, bigger, and more powerful fighter in Thatch.
In the end, the former champion weathered the early storm from "Rukus" and chipped away with body shots and kicks to tire the 170-pound behemoth. When the fight got into the later rounds, Henderson was the fresher fighter, and utilized his gas tank to drag Thatch to the mat where he went on to dominate the fight.
The finish was Henderson's second in his Octagon career, and could catapult him up the welterweight rankings if he opts to stay in the 170-pound division to chase a second UFC title.
Not only did Neil Magny put on a show in an absolute beatdown of Kiichi Kunimoto, but the streaking welterweight saved the UFC Fight Night 60 card from being a complete disaster following two poor fights in a row on the main card.
With his six straight victory inside the Octagon, Magny currently holds the longest streak in welterweight division -- meaning a spot in the UFC rankings are likely in the near future for the rising star. After winning five fights in 2014, who is to say Magny can't repeat that feat this calendar year?
Magny emanated from the much loathed season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), but has since become a true force in the 170-pound division. With the victory in Colorado, Magny will likely get a Top-15 opponent his next time out, and with one more victory, a title shot may not be far off.
The only downside of Magny's otherwise sensational evening was the fact that he didn't call out anyone in the Top-10 -- instead opting to recant the antiquated "I'll fight whoever the UFC and Joe Silva tell me to."
Max Holloway is quickly becoming one of UFC's most exciting fighters.
After winning four straight fights in 2014 -- all via finish -- Holloway kicked off 2015 with an impressive unanimous decision victory over the unbelievably durable Cole Miller in what could have been crowned UFC Fight Night 60's "Fight of the Night" had it not been for Benson Henderson and Brandon Thatch's outstanding tussle in the main event of the evening.
"Blessed" literally threw everything in his diverse arsenal at Miller -- including a plethora of highlight-reel spinning attacks -- but the TUF veteran refused to fold where many other fighters would have.
In the end, Holloway continues his climb up the featherweight latter, and he could be merely a win or two away from a title shot, and potentially a rematch against Conor McGregor.
Biggest Loser: Patrick Walsh
Why in the world was Patrick Walsh vs Dan Kelly on the UFC Fight Night 60 main card in Colorado?
In a battle between a former TUF 19 semi-finalist and a four-time Australian Olympian, Walsh lost a unanimous decision to Kelly in what was easily the worst fight of the year -- and potentially the worst fight in the last five years.
Oh, did I mention Walsh also missed weight by 6.5 pounds in his first attempt at making the 185-pound division? If UFC brass opt not to cut him by Monday, you can bet he won't be fighting in the middleweight division again.
Can we please just forget this fight ever happened and move on?
It was a tough night for former RFA star Brandon Thatch in his return to the UFC Octagon.
Following a 15-month layoff due to injuries, "Rukus" returned to the cage in a main event slot against a former champion, and yet it seemed the proposition was a lose-lose scenario for the Colorado native considering he was the much larger man on Saturday night.
Ultimately, Thatch may have lost his second professional fight at UFC Fight Night 60, but he undoubtedly gained a legion of fans after his gritty and exciting performance against "Smooth." Thatch once again showed flashes of brilliance inside the cage, but it was simply a matter of Henderson's championship-level experience that got the better of him on fight night.
Even with the loss, Thatch won't move far down the totem pole, and there is a bright future ahead of the exciting welterweight prospect.
Plus, he earned an extra $50k in bonus money that will make his bruises seem a bit more worth it come Sunday morning.
After two incidental head butts from Max Holloway opened up a gruesome gash under Cole Miller's eyebrow, the TUF veteran simply could not get back into the swing of things en route to a unanimous decision loss.
Miller came into Colorado as the underdog, but had a huge opportunity to halt the freight train of hype Holloway was riding following a four-fight finish streak in 2014. Unfortunately for "Magrinho," he was unable to capitalize and extend his own winning streak to three straight.
Miller has fought 17 times in the UFC since appearing on TUF season 5, and while he has etched out a prominent spot on UFC's roster, he has proven to be a gatekeeper for the 145 and 155 pound division. While he certainly has a lot more fight in him at 30, it seems his chances for making a late career title run are slim at best.
That's a wrap!
For complete UFC Fight Night 60 results and coverage of all the night's action click here.