Many words were spoken before the Flyweight bout. And when Henry Cejudo (10-2) and Joseph Benavidez (25-4) got in the Octagon last night (Sat., Dec. 3, 2016) in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 24 Finale co-main event in Las Vegas, Nevada, they did not disappoint.
Benavidez, 32, got dropped early in the fight, but benefited from Cejudo getting a point deducted for a low blow, and went on to score a split decision victory inside Palms Resort and Casino. Benavidez received scores of 30-26 and 29-27, while Cejudo earned a 29-27 score. Indeed, the scores from the judges made no sense -- it was a very, very close fight regardless of the point deduction.
Cejudo connected with a huge combination early on in the first round, and floored Benavidez with a left hook. However, Benavidez, the No.1-ranked UFC Flyweight, weathered the storm and recovered. Moments later, Cejudo landed a strike to the groin, which forced referee Yves Lavigne to halt the bout, allowing Benavidez to recover.
When the action resumed, Cejudo landed a second strike to the groin. This time Lavigne would take a point from Cejudo for the infraction. The action continued to be fast paced and Cejudo, a former Olympic Gold medalist, was able to land a takedown, but couldn't do anything with it. Benavidez landed a high kick in the closing seconds, but Cejudo ate it, then caught it and swept him to the canvas.
It continued to be a standup battle in the second, and the fight remained a closely contested one. Cejudo continued to push forward, but Benavidez appeared to be one landing the more accurate strikes. A cut appeared on the mouth of Benavaidez during the round.
Cejudo, the No.2-ranked UFC Flyweight, picked a single and landed a trip takedown early on in the third round, but Benavidez bounced right back up to his feet. Cejudo continued to press forward and both Flyweights were landing strikes as well as counter-strikes. With just under a minute left, Cejudo landed a solid knee to the body. Benavidez landed a solid combo soon after. In the closing seconds of the fight, both threw punches to the delight of the raucous Vegas crowd until the horn sounded.
The win marks six in a row for Benavidez, who may soon earn his third crack at the UFC Flyweight title. He is now 12-2 in UFC. Cejudo has now lost two in a row, but turned in a solid performance, which was far better than the brutal TKO loss he suffered to champion, Demetrious Johnson at UFC 197.
For complete TUF 24 Finale results, including play-by-play updates, click here.