Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011 | 10:20 p.m.
Ben Henderson succeeded in clouding an already murky lightweight title picture at the UFC on Versus 5 card in Milwaukee Sunday night.
Henderson scored an upset in the co-main event against Jim Miller, who the UFC would have scheduled to meet the winner of the upcoming lightweight title fight between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard with a victory.
Henderson (14-2 MMA, 2-0) took the fight via unanimous decision, which counted as the first time Miller (20-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC) has lost in his last eight appearances.
“Waves pound, the ocean goes, I beat people up,” Henderson said on the telecast of the card. “That’s what I do.”
The former WEC champion bloodied Miller’s face with strikes, got him to the ground repeatedly with his wrestling and escaped from an arsenal of submission attempts.
The judges scored the contest 30-27, 29-28 and 30-26.
“My stand-up went a long ways,” Henderson said. “I landed some good, hard punches, but I think I could have finished the fight.”
Henderson’s win presents the UFC with a complicated situation in deciding who is the next challenger for Edgar or Maynard. At least four different fighters can make an argument that they deserve the next shot.
Although UFC President Dana White has vowed to keep Strikeforce’s talent together as long as possible, his company’s purchase of the organization means Gilbert Melendez could slide into the octagon to fight for the belt. Melendez has won five straight, including a vicious first-round knockout of Tatsuya Kawajiri his last time out.
Two more likely options are teammates Melvin Guillard and Clay Guida. Guillard has also won five straight, with three of the last four coming via first-round knockout, while Guida recently beat Anthony Pettis for his fourth in a row.
Henderson could also toss his name into the conversation after dominating Miller, but sounded content either way Sunday.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” Henderson said. “I just want to keep getting my hands raised, keep getting better each time I go to the octagon. I think that was a better performance than my last one, so I’m happy.”
On most other cards, Henderson’s performance would garner the lion’s share of attention. But a unique situation arose in Milwaukee Saturday night when welterweight Chris Lytle announced he would retire after his main event bout against Dan Hardy.
The 36-year-old Lytle (31-18-5 MMA, 10-10 UFC) was able to go out victorious when he defeated Hardy (23-10 MMA, 4-4 UFC) via submission at 4:17 of the third round.
“I love being a fighter, I love being in the UFC,” Lytle said. “I love it probably more than anything in my life except for one thing, and that’s my family. It’s time for me to dedicate more time to them and put them ahead of anything. I’m definitely making the right choice.”
Two of Lytle’s four children joined him inside the cage as he celebrated his final win. The UFC sent Lytle off with $130,000 of bonus money as he took home Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night honors.
Lytle’s legacy is secure as a fighter who always entertained the fans. Despite his .500 record, Lytle earned 10 fight night bonuses in his career — good for a UFC record.
Lytle and Hardy exchanged power punches for first 14 minutes of their fight Saturday. But Hardy jumped on a late opportunity to take Lytle down, which turned out to be his downfall.
Lytle secured a deep guillotine choke in the process of the takedown that forced Hardy to tap out. Hardy has now lost four straight, which usually means immediate termination from the promotion, but UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta hinted otherwise after the show.
“Will not cut (Dan Hardy),” Fertitta tweeted. “I like guys that war.”
Check below for the rest of the results from UFC on Versus 5.
Donald Cerrone beat Charles Oliveira via first round TKO three minutes into their lightweight bout. The slight upset earned Cerrone a Knockout of the Night bonus.
Duane Ludwig upset heavily favored Las Vegas fighter Amir Sadollah in their lightweight contest via unanimous decision. Ludwig tore Sadollah apart with kickboxing in the first two rounds, earning the mark on all three scorecards, before losing the final round.
Jared Hamman defeated C.B. Dollaway via TKO at 3:38 of the second round. Dollaway nearly finished Hamman with a submission in the first round of the middleweight contest, but got pummeled in the second.
Joseph Benavidez won a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) in a bantamweight showdown with Eddie Wineland. Benavidez bloodied Wineland in the first round and possibly broke his nose.
Ed Herman submitted Kyle Noke with a heel hook 4:15 into their middleweight fight. Noke had to be carried out of the octagon after Herman said he heard his opponent’s knee crack during the submission.
Light heavyweight Ronny Markes beat Karlos Vemola via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Jimy Hettes submitted Alex Caceres at 3:12 of the second round in his featherweight debut in the UFC.
Cole Miller submitted lightweight foe T.J. O’Brien 2:28 into the second round.
Jacob Volkmann defeated Danny Castillo via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) in their lightweight contest.
Edwin Figueroa notched a TKO win 50 seconds into the second round over Jason Reinhardt in their bantamweight clash.