TEAM LIDDELL'S JOE HENLE (3-0) VS. TEAM ORTIZ'S SETH BACZYNSKI (11-5)
UFC president Dana White makes his opening remarks, referee Josh Rosenthal signals for a start, and we're underway after a touch of the gloves.
Joe strikes first with a low kick, shoots, works to drag his opponent to the mat, and then looks to avoid his opponent's triangle-choke attempt once they hit the mat. Joe's teammates scream instructions, but Seth secures the hold anyway. However, while pinned against the cage, Seth can't get the angle he needs and eventually releases the hold. Seth uses the opportunity to slap on a guillotine choke, drops to his back, and torques it. Seth works it for nearly a half minute but also has to give up that submission, too. Joe escapes full guard, moves into side control, and then moves into a north-south position. During a scramble, he briefly works a choke but gives it up. Again on his back, Seth looks for the triangle choke but eventually gives up his back while trying to improve his position. Seth successfully reverses the position, takes top control, and delivers elbow strikes while in his opponent's full guard. Seth delivers more elbows as Joe looks for better position. Seth delivers a couple more big elbow strikes before the round ends. Joe hung tough, but with the early submission attempts and late ground and pound, Seth earns the round, 10-9, on the MMAjunkie.com scorecard.
Between rounds, Tito tells Seth to believe in himself and to keep up the efforts. Chuck tells Joe to fight for position.
The ref calls for the fighters, and round two is underway. Seth fakes a flying knee and takes a body kick. Seth answers and wings looping punches that partially connect. The fighters clinch and jockey for position against the cage. Seth gets the takedown, but Joe rolls to his side and eventually takes top position. Seth delivers elbows from his back and then looks for a kimura. Joe quickly moves to his knees and then grabs his opponent's back. He gets in his hooks and now has the position for a rear-naked choke. Seth tries to fight it off and won't allow Joe to lock the choke. Seth kicks off the cage and reverses the position, and during a scramble, he grabs Joe's arm for a potential armbar. There's nothing there, and Joe returns to top position and works from inside full guard. The pace slows. Seth looks for an escape, but Joe quickly covers him to avoid it. Seth tries to back out of the position from his side, but Joe passes guard into side control. Tito complains that Joe is just holding on, and he may have a point. However, Joe then moves into the north-south position and looks for a choke. Seth, though, escapes, and the fighters return to their feet. As Joe backs against the cage, Seth comes charging at him with a flying knee that Joe barely avoids. Seth crashes into the cage. Joe then dips for a takedown, but Seth sprawls. Joe, though, drags him to his knees and then puts Seth on his back. Joe frees a leg, takes his opponent's back, but loses the position and eats punches and must defend a rear-naked choke before the round ends. It's a close round, but MMAjunkie.com gives it to Joe, 10-9, based on overall control.
As expected, the judges declare the fight a draw, and we head to a third and deciding "sudden-victory" round.
Both fighters labor for breath between rounds and get pep talks from their respective coaches. Dana yells and asks who really wants the fight.
The third round starts, and Seth comes out with guns blazing. He catches Joe with punches and then dips, shoots and scores the takedown. Joe rolls to his side and looks to grab an arm, but Seth uses the opportunity to free a leg. Seth works from the top position and looks for a choke. He gives it up but tries again shortly after. Seth looks for better position and then rains down a quick burst of punches. Joe reclaims full guard but eats more punches and elbows. The blows are sporadic but effective. Joe tries to defend, but the elbows continue to the head and body for the next minute. Joe rolls to his side, and Seth passes guard and then delivers more punches from half guard. Joe simply tries to pull Seth close, but Seth closes out the round with more ground and pound. The finale frame is all Seth, who takes the round 10-9 and 29-28 overall on the MMAjunkie.com scorecard.
It appears it'll be a decision loss for Joe, but in many ways, it was a moral victory.
The judges' decision is read, and it's confirmed: Seth wins the fight with a 10-9 final round.
"He's definitely tougher than I thought," Seth said. "He has a lot of potential for the amount of experience he has, and I'm lucky to get out with the win."
Joe admits the loss is hard but says his heart remains in it and that he wants a wild-card spot.