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SUNRISE, FL, June 8 – St. Louis welterweight prospect Lance Benoist engaged in another bloody three round scrap in his second UFC bout Friday night at the Bank Atlantic Center, but unlike the first time, this one resulted in the first loss of his pro career, as Seth Baczynski outlasted him via split decision in UFC on FX preliminary card action.
Scores were 29-28 twice and 27-30 for Baczynski, 16-6 and winner of five in a row. Benoist, who defeated Matt Riddle in his Octagon debut in September of 2011, falls to 6-1.
“I definitely feel like I won the fight tonight," said Baczynski. "I inflicted more damage and ended every round on top. I also don’t think he inflicted near enough damage to claim the win. He did much better on his feet and was much more well-rounded than I thought, but I earned this one.”
There were plenty of memorable moments in the first round, from Benoist getting a warning for an illegal knee to a downed opponent, to his flying submission attempt later in the round. A late takedown attempt went bad for the Missouri native though, as Baczynski got out of trouble immediately and ended up in the top position, where he worked his ground and pound for the final minute.
Baczynski was the busier of the two fighters, both in the top position and from his back, showing off his veteran experience. Another infraction by Benoist early in the round didn’t help either, but he avoided a point deduction from referee Chris Adams.
Benoist and Baczynski locked up and battled it out in round three, with both fighters getting their shots in against the fence and on the mat. Benoist got the worst of it, at least facially, as his face was bloodied, primarily from a cut under his left eye, and after throwing his foe to the mat late in the round, Baczynski finished strong with ground strikes.
“It’s my fault for not finishing," said Benoist. "I’ve had some personal things going in the past few weeks that have been difficult to deal with, but I can’t make excuses. I didn’t perform to my best ability tonight, but I did give everything I had. Seth was the better man tonight, what else can I say?”
PIERCE vs. ROCHA
Scores were 30-27 twice for Pierce, with a bizarre 30-27 also turned in for Rocha by judge Ric Bays. Update: After the bout, it was announced that Bays had accidentally scored the fight for the wrong corner, and Pierce had actually earned the unanimous decision victory, as expected.
“I’m not sure how that one judge was able to score 100% in Rocha’s favor, but it is what it is," said Pierce. "I was able to take away his best attack and it was his ground game. My wrestling neutralized it, he was a fish out of water and I was able to dominate.”
The first round was primarily a grappling match, but not a particularly entertaining one, with Pierce and Rocha locked up and stationary until a slam in the final minute by Pierce that sealed the round for him.
Pierce got his takedown earlier in the second round, but almost got caught in a submission before pulling loose. The two proceeded to scrap on the mat, trading shots at close range but the round proceeded to see them locking up against the fence while standing, with little else of note happening.
There was more of the same for much of round three, but Pierce finally broke loose with some flush ground strikes in the final minute that sealed the deal for his victory.
With the win, Pierce ups his record to 14-5; Rocha falls to 9-2. Watch Pierce's post-fight interview
GRICE vs. GARCIA
A more disciplined Leonard Garcia wasn’t necessarily a better Leonard Garcia, as the longtime featherweight standout was handed his third consecutive loss by Matt Grice, who earned his first UFC win since 2007 via unanimous decision.
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Grice, who believed he broke his left foot with the first kick he threw in the first round.
After some tentative standup from both fighters to open the fight, Grice (15-4) drew first blood with a takedown, and he dominated the rest of the round from there, whether it was with his ground and pound attack or a north-south choke attempt that came up short but scored points for the Oklahoman.
Garcia (19-9-1) avoided Grice’s first takedown attempt of the second round, but he wasn’t so lucky the next time, as “The Real One” put him down hard on the mat. From there, it was a carbon copy of the previous round, with Grice staying busy as he kept Garcia pinned to the canvas.
Down 2-0 on the scorecards, Garcia got his wish of keeping it standing in the third round, at least for the first half of the frame, but he was still unable to do anything to Grice, who fought well throughout, punctuating his shutout win with more solid groundwork before the final bell. Hear what Grice had to say in his post-fight interview
PAGUE vs. PAPAZIAN
Using effective movement to avoid a slugfest with the Californian, Pague struck immediately when the two got close, tripping his foe to the mat as they clinched. The Virginian immediately got into the mount position and then took Papazian’s back, eventually working his way into a rear naked choke that produced a tap out at the 3:21 mark.
“This fight went perfectly for me tonight,” said Pague. “The plan was to work the distance and range because we knew he’d come forward. Once we were in the clinch and I started landing some knees, I knew I could go for the sweep and have the upper hand. I threw a few more strikes and locked in that submission and I knew I could sink in the submission. We call that the Captain America.”
With the win, Pague improves to 11-6; Papazian falls to 14-8 with 1 NC.
“All the respect in the world to Dustin,” said Papazian. “He came in and did what he needed to do. He had a game plan and he executed. What I’m really upset about is that the ref (Frank Gentile) kept pulling my feet off the cage and I couldn’t defend him from that position. When you fight in a cage, you train to be able to push off the cage and the ref wouldn’t let me do it. It completely took away the defensive strategy that we had worked for this fight.” Watch Pague's post-fight interview
MEANS vs. SALAS
Salas was in trouble from the opening bell, catching a left hand from Means that started a string of knockdowns and near knockdowns. Yet each time it looked like Denver’s Salas was finished, he kept showing signs of recovery. Eventually though, with Albuquerque’s Means keeping the pressure on, a final barrage of blows while Salas hit the deck brought in referee Chris Adams to halt the bout at 1:06 of the first round.
With the win, Means improved to 18-3-1. Salas falls to 10-4. Watch "The Dirty Bird's" post-fight interview
ROBERTS vs. MAGALHAES
The unanimous decision for Roberts, now 12-2, read 30-27 twice and 29-28.
Roberts, whose first UFC bout with Sean Loeffler got canceled before the opening bell when Loeffler was injured backstage, made it to the Octagon this time, and it was clear that he couldn’t wait to scrap, as he tore after Magalhaes (5-1) at the bell. The rest of the round was more measured, but there was still plenty of compelling work from the Albuquerque product, who landed some hard shots both up close and from long range, and he continued on the same path in the second and third rounds, keeping the Brazilian at bay with hard leg kicks, quick shots to the head, and solid takedown defense, capping off an impressive debut performance.
“I’ve worked hard for this with the guys at Greg Jackson’s and I’m going to enjoy this victory,” said Roberts. “That guy is tough as nails and has a great chin. He came right at me the entire fight and we went at it the entire time. My wrestling and jiu-jitsu have been much improved since you saw me last and I think it went a long way in helping me win here tonight.” Hear what Roberts had to say about his performance
MARTINEZ vs. MAGALHAES
“It feels great to get my first win in the UFC,” said Martinez. “I had an easy weight cut and I was ready to fight. I felt like I was able to do what I wanted to do and control the fight wherever it ended up. Even when he took me down, I was able to get right back up. I’m ready for my next challenge inside the Octagon.”
The southpaw Martinez was the aggressor throughout the opening frame, but there was a price to pay, as Magalhaes got off some effective counters in response. Even when Magalhaes was turned back on a takedown, the Australia-based Brazilian nearly locked up Martinez’ leg on the mat, but the round ultimately belonged to Albuquerque’s Martinez.
Martinez tightened up his defense in the second, with good movement keeping Magalhaes from getting his shots off with any consistency, but surprisingly there was little sense of urgency from either fighter in the final frame, as they delivered action in brief spurts, with Martinez ending up on top via split decision by scores of 30-27 and 29-28 twice. The bout was originally announced as a unanimous decision.
With the win, Martinez improves to 9-2; Magalhaes drops to 11-3. Hear what Martinez had to say in his post-fight interview
PIERSON vs. HECHT
Scores were 29-28 across the board for Pierson, who ups his record to 12-6; Hecht falls to 11-4.
“I really wanted to push the pace with him to test him there," said Pierson. "He was definitely a better wrestler than I thought, but I felt like I countered it well with my jiu-jitsu. This was a great win for me and getting back in the win column couldn’t have come at a better time.”
A competitive first round saw both welterweights having their moments, Hecht with an immediate takedown as the bout began and a slam later on that came in between some effective ground and clinch work from Pierson.
The majority of the next two rounds remained standing, and with Hecht’s face showing the wear of the bout on his face, Pierson picked and pecked at his foe, doing the majority of the scoring in a workmanlike performance that gave the 36-year old’s career new life in the Octagon. Watch Pierson's post-fight interview