BEN HENDERSON VS. JIM MILLER: This could be amazing, or it could be a wrestling match. Henderson established his jab early. Miller landed a sweet short elbow that annoyed Henderson. They struggled in the clinch until Jim Miller got a standing arm triangle and jumped up to pull guard. Henderson remained standing, though, and defended the choke very well. Henderson ended up on top of Miller. Henderson landed a few nice elbows on the ground. Miller got back up, and Henderson landed a nice head kick as Miller scrambled away. Miller went for a kimura from the bottom but couldn’t get it. Henderson got another takedown and rained down big shots from the top. Huge elbow and ground and pound from Henderson as the round ends. He takes the round.
Henderson gets the better of early exchanges, avoiding Miller’s punches with great speed. Henderson clinches and then trips Miller to the ground. Miller is bleeding. Miller attacks the leg from the bottom, but can’t get anything. Henderson drills Miller with shots from the top, but Miller is still going for the leg lock. Henderson says he’s going. Henderson gets away, then reversed a takedown and ends up back on top. Miller attacks the leg again, this time a heel hook, but Henderson rolls to safety. Henderson lands huge shots from the top, then more from standing, then gets another takedown. Miller gets back to his feet only to get taken down again. Miller looks for a kimura from the bottom, but Henderson defends. Henderson is really controlling Miller here, almost shockingly well. Henderson rains down more punches as the round ends. The former WEC champion takes yet another round, this one even more dominant than the first.
Dan Miller just told Jim that he needs to take the action to Henderson. Leg kick from Henderson. Henderson is doing a great job of avoiding Miller’s strikes. He lands a huge short elbow of his own. Miller gets a left hook. A left hook from Miller either drops Henderson or Henderson slipped, but either way Henderson is back up and then gets a takedown. Henderson back on top and drilling Miller with ground and pound. Miller rolls over and Henderson takes his back. Miller tries to dive forward and plan Henderson on his head, but Henderson stays on and tries the rear naked. He doesn’t get it, so he throws bombs. He’s battering Miller and this one could be stopped shortly. Henderson on top in side control now. He continues raining down huge shots. Miller is being annihilated here. Miller is seated, and Henderson stands up to throw more shots. Henderson goes for the guillotine and he’s mounted with it, but doesn’t quite have it. Big knee to the body from Henderson. The fight ends. Amazing and utterly dominant performance from Ben Henderson, who just put himself straight into the title picture. Ben Henderson d. Jim Miller via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-26)
DAN HARDY VS. CHRIS LYTLE: As noted, this is Chris Lytle’s final fight, as he’ll retire afterwards. For the first time I can remember, Hardy gets more cheers than boos when he enters the arena. He’s fighting for his job here, as I cannot imagine them keeping him on the roster with a fourth straight loss. Lytle immediately lands a big right hand. Big shots to the body from Lytle. Hardy staggers Lytle with a left hook. Lytle catches Hardy’s leg kick and tosses him, but lets him back up. Big knee from Hardy to the face. Huge left from Lytle, and then another combo. Hardy just smiles, so Lytle blasts him again. Both guys are just throwing huge bombs. Lytle lands two more hooks, then one to the body. A left hook from Lytle staggers Hardy. Straight right from Hardy. Another left hook from Lytle. Both guys are landing, but Lytle lands three in a row that hurt Hardy. Hardy gets drilled with an uppercut. Lytle lands more left hooks. Lytle takes the first. If this keeps up, it’s your Fight of the Night.
Lytle opens round two by landing more huge shots. Hardy is not protecting himself at all. More shots from Lytle. Hardy gets rocked, but then rocks Lytle. Hardy staggers Lytle, and Lytle clinches. That one was nasty, but Lytle still didn’t go down. Huge body shot from Lytle. Hardy gets poked in the eye on accident. Yeah, that one looked bad. He takes a few seconds to gather himself and then starts again. Huge hooks from Lytle. Hardy backs up and just smiles. Hardy fires back with hooks of his own. Hardy rocks Lytle bad. Hardy shoots for a takedown, but Lytle stuffs it and they are back to their feet. Lytle lands two hooks. Hardy swinging wildly too. They’re beating the piss outta each other. Uppercut from Lytle and then a huge winging right. They exchange more. This is an awesome slugfest. Big right from Lytle to the body, then a left hook to the face. Big left from Lytle. They are killing each other. Lytle lands a big right and then a left and the round ends. Lytle takes the round as he landed more, but it’s close.
The crowd is giving both fighters a huge ovation. Left and right from Lytle. Hardy lands his own left. Lytle with another body shot. He’s landing those at will. Another left hook for Lytle. They’re standing in the pocket and trading. Big left from Lytle. Hardy finally throws a leg kick, but Lytle answers with a big left hook. Big right from Lytle is countered with a right from Hardy. Another left for Lytle. And another. Hardy is finally moving around, but it might be too little, too late. Left hook from Lytle. Both guys exchange. They’re letting it fly now with a minute left. Hardy goes for a takedown, but Lytle gets a guillotine and Hardy taps out. What an incredible brawl this was, and what a way for Chris Lytle to go out. Chris Lytle d. Dan Hardy via submission, round 3
A fitting end to one of the best cards of the year. This was great almost from top to bottom.