The UFC brought the action in its final pay-per view of a banner 2015.
Chris Weidman used grappling to take Luke Rockhold’s back early in the first round. Rockhold lands a choke that works more as a headlock, and Herb Dean stands the fighters up. Weidman wins the round but Rockhold finishes it strong. Rockhold utilizes punches and kicks to dominate the second. Weidman rebounds with kicks of his own in the third but an ill-advised wheel kick allowed the former Strikeforce champion to land a takedown and unleash brutal fists and elbows that bloody and batter the UFC middleweight champion to the brink of defeat. Rockhold scores another takedown in the fourth. Weidman offers no answers to the challenger’s forearms, elbows, and fists raining down in his face, and Herb Dean mercifully calls a halt to the action.
An almost teary-eyed Rockhold told Joe Rogan about the “You shouldn’t be trying that stuff on me.” Weidman agreed, and called it “Luke’s day” and vowed, “I’ll be back.”
Yoel Romero stunned Ronaldo Souza with a spinning backfist in the opening round before unleashing scary ground-and-pound on the Brazilian who stumbled back to the stool at the end of the first frame. A lazily fought second prefaced a third in which Jacare used strikes to set up a takedown and strike from the top position. With the Cuban dominating the first and the Brazilian dominating the third, how the judges scored the second and whether they awarded Romero a 10-8 first round dictated the decision. The scorecards split with Souza winning 29-28 on one card and Romero winning 29-28 and 29-27 on another. The Soldier of God improves to 11-1 and looks like the obvious next challenger for the middleweight title. “I’m ready,” Romero told Joe Rogan after the fight.
Demian Maia put on a grappling clinic in a dominating, three-round exhibition of elite jiu jitsu and vicious ground-and-pound using Gunnar Nelson as a prop. The judges saw it 30-26, 30-25, and 30-25 for Maia, who promptly called out the winner of Robbie Lawler-Carlos Condit match for a welterweight title tilt.
Featherweight Max Holloway defeated Jeremy Stephens in the opening pay-per-view fight that promised fireworks but delivered a dud. Stephens let loose his hands in the remaining minute but it proved too little, too late. Holloway wins his eighth fight since his TKO loss to Conor McGregor and improves to 15-3.
Urijah Faber used elbows and knees to wrest a unanimous decision victory over a game Frankie Saenz in a a preliminary bantamweight bout. The California Kid sent Saenz to silly street in the second with a knee to the head. But he put himself in a precarious position by nearly depleting his power bars by going for the finish. Saenz roared back in the round, and kept the other two stanzas close, but ultimately fell short on the scorecards 30-27, 29-28, and 29-28.
“That fight took me back to my hardest practices at UC Davis wrestling,” the alpha male of Team Alpha Male explained after the victory. “Your head would be pounding and your chest is throbbing, you feel like you can’t give another ounce but you have to. I’m very fatigued but I was able to get the win. I could hear him verbally hurt from a body shot I landed so I tried to pour on the punishment to the body. Then he caught me with a hard shot to the body and it took me a moment to recover. Just a great back and forth fight against a guy that had seven straight victories.”