Up-and-coming Flyweight hopefuls, Ryan Benoit and Fredy Serrano had the privilege of kicking off UFC 201's pay-per-view (PPV) main card tonight (Sat., July 30, 2016) inside Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. And it was the fighter who took the match on super short notice, Benoit, who was able to escape "Hotlanta" with a very close split decision win over the decorated wrestler from Colombia.
Serrano got the action started early with a hard punch that set up a huge takedown slam. Serrano couldn't control Benoit on the ground, however, and when it got back to vertical "Baby Face" dropped "El Profe" with a great shot. Benoit angled for a submission on the ground, but Serrano was not hurt and was able to defend and escape quickly. Benoit stalked Serrano for the final minute of the round, throwing several kicks, but failing to connect with anything meaningful. He did land a nice cross as the round came to a close, forcing Serrano to make a run for it and then, after the buzzer, Benoit landed another shot that drew the ire of Serrano.
Both fighters touched gloves to start the second after the first ended with Serrano shoving Benoit in disgust. Benoit continued to stalk Serrano, who appeared to just have his right hand cocked, looking to land a one-hitter quitter. Serrano shot in for a takedown, but was unable to do get anywhere with it along the cage. Shortly thereafter he was able to turn a standing guillotine choke submission attempt into a takedown and worked some ground-and-pound before Benoit literally threw him off. Benoit -- who took the fight on just 10 days notice -- too a deep breath midway through the round and checked the clock. Moments later, Serrano was able to secure another takedown, but once again couldn't really do anything with it as Benoit was able to kick his way out as the round came to a close.
Third and final frame and Serrano was able to complete another takedown immediately. Benoit, however, tied up his arms, compelling the referee to order a standup because of lack of inactivity. Serrano, clearly exhausted, crawled in for another quick, lazy takedown and Benoit was able to punish him with a few nice shots before the fight got back to the center of the Octagon. Serrano landed a nice straight right hand, but Benoit countered with a spinning backfist on the break. Benoit landed a hard kick to Serrano's mid-section and then a hard cross, forcing the Colombian to retreat. Serrano more or less played keep-away until the final bell, assuming that he had the fight won on the judges scorecards.
But, he was wrong -- the judges apparently we not impressed with his multiple takedowns and unorthodox striking. As a result, Serrano, 36, lost his first professional MMA fight (3-1), while Benoit was able to avoid back-to-back losses and pick up an unexpected paycheck.
For complete UFC 201: "Lawler vs. Woodley" results, including real-time play-by-play updates, click here.