UFC 180 takes place Saturday night in Mexico City, the UFC's first foray into the fight friendly country that the UFC hopes will develop into one of its strongest markets. The main event is a UFC interim heavyweight title fight between Fabricio Werdum and Mark Hunt. Werdum was originally scheduled to challenge Mexican-American champion Cain Velasquez for his UFC heavyweight title but Velasquez was forced to withdraw from the card due to injury. Hunt stepped in on short notice and the popular striker will have the opportunity to score the biggest win of his MMA career. In the co-main event, undefeated rising welterweight prospect Kelvin Gastelum will face the biggest challenge of his career in dangerous contender Jake Ellenberger.
UFC interim heavyweight title: Fabricio Werdum vs. Mark Hunt
Werdum got into MMA after thriving as one of the world's best heavyweight jiu jitsu artists. Early on, he relied heavily on that jiu jitsu background but he has improved his striking greatly in recent years to become a tremendous all around threat. He is coming off a dominant victory over the very game Travis Browne and is the best he has ever been. Hunt also entered into MMA after thriving in a specific discipline, as he was a world class K1 kickboxer. Initially, he struggled greatly on the ground but he has improved his submissions over time while maintaining heavy strikes and an iron chin. He took this fight on short notice and may have trouble dealing with the altitude in Mexico City.
Round 1. Werdum lands a hard leg kick to start the fight. Hunt knocks Werdum down with a huge overhand right. Werdum gets up and Hunt swings wildly with a couple more home run shots. He isn't able to land. Werdum shoots for a takedown but doesn't come close. Werdum lands a spinning back kick to the head. Hunt moves in and they fall to the ground with Hunt on top. Werdum closes his guard to keep Hunt from getting back up. Hunt lands some punches from the top and Werdum isn't able to set up any submissions from the bottom. Hunt eventually pulls out and returns to his feet. Hunt lands a big right hand and a heavy uppercut but Werdum is able to survive. Hunt lands another hard shot and Werdum lands a kick to close the round. Big first round for Hunt. 10-9 Hunt.
Round 2. Hunt drops Werdum again with a straight punch. He lets Werdum get right back up. Werdum throws a head kick that just barely misses. Hunt moves in with a couple heavy punches but misses. Hunt looks tired but saves up his energy for these big shots that do tremendous damage. Werdum shoots for a takedown but it is blocked. Werdum drops Hunt with a flying knee and follows with a flow of shots on the ground until the referee stops it. That was quite the remarkable turnaround for Werdum.
Winner: Fabricio Werdum, TKO, round 2.
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Jake Ellenberger
Gastelum has quickly developed into one of the top prospects in the sport. Only 23, he has excellent wrestling and submissions and has carved out an undefeated record. Ellenberger was a top welterweight contender before consecutive losses to Rory MacDonald and Robbie Lawler cut off his momentum. This is a crucial fight for both men, while Gastelum looking to establish he belongs with the elite of the division and Ellenberger looking to reestablish his presence as one of the division's best.
Round 1. Gastelum begins to establish his jab early. Ellenberger moves in with a nice inside punch. Gastelum answers back with a few punches including a solid left. Gastelum is the more active fighter early. Ellenberger lands a hard right. Ellenberger lands a big punch but Gastelum responds by taking Ellenberger down. Gastelum lands a few punches from the top. He follows with elbows. Ellenberger finally stands back up. Gastelum lands a couple hard punches upon returning to the feet. Ellenberger slams Gastelum down but Gastelum slickly reverses, takes Ellenberger's back, and gets a rear naked choke for the submission in the final seconds of the round. Terrific performance by Gastelum and another awful performance from Ellenberger.
Winner: Kelvin Gastelum, submission, round 1.
Dennis Bermudez vs. Ricardo Lamas
This is an important fight in a deep and talented 145 pound division. Bermudez has won seven fights in a row in the UFC and is on the verge of a title shot. Lamas challenged champion Jose Aldo for the title earlier this year and is looking to work his way back into position to challenge again. Both men share an impressive 14-3 record with plenty of wins over high quality opposition.
Round 1. Bermudez lands a superman punch and clinches with Lamas. He can't get anything and they separate. Bermudez lands a nice leg kick. Lamas catches Bermudez as Bermudez looks for a kick and Lamas tries for a choke. Bermudez avoids that and attempts to take Lamas down. Lamas defends well. Lamas lands a couple knees to the body. Bermudez lands a couple punches by the cage and they move into distance. Lamas drops Bermudez with a hard jab, grabs a guillotine and gets the submission.
Winner: Ricardo Lamas, submission, round 1.
Augusto Montano vs. Chris Heatherly
Montano is a Mexican fighter with a 13-1 record who is being groomed for big things by the UFC, sending him to train at the highly regarded Jackson-Winkeljohn camp in New Mexico. Heatherly is a lightly regarded Illinois fighter who attained the ignominious distinction in his last fight of being the first fighter in UFC history to submit to an omoplata shoulder lock.
Round 1. Heatherly secures a quick takedown. Montano controls Heatherly with his full guard. Heatherly passes into side control but Montano then stands back up. Montano lands a few punches and clinches. Montano throws some heavy knees to the body and head in the clinch and looks to finish the fight but Heatherly is able to survive. They separate and Heatherly connects with a huge uppercut that staggers Montano. Montano recovers and Heatherly pulls guard on him. Heatherly stands up and tries for a takedown of his own but Montano blocks it and lands some punches. He follows with a series of knees to the head and Heatherly is just covering up. The referee eventually stops the fight.
Winner: Augusto Montano, TKO, round 1.
Humberto Brown vs. Gabriel Benitez
Benitez is a Mexican prospect with a 16-4 record taking a big step up in competition as he moves into the UFC. Brown is a 4-4 fighter from Panama who really has no business in the UFC except that the UFC put on an Ultimate Fighter Latin America show where they needed to find fighters from other Latin American nations to compete with the Mexican contingent.
Round 1. Brown moves in with wild punches and looks for a takedown. Benitez grab a guillotine choke and pulls guard. He looks close to securing the submission but Brown is able to hang on and Benitez eventually lets it go. Moments later, Benitez grabs another guillotine attempt but Brown once more pops his head out. Brown lands a few punches from the top. Benitez looks for an arm bar submission but cannot secure it. Benitez then looks for a triangle choke. He gives that up but gets back up to his feet. Benitez throws a few knees from the standing position. He throws a flying knee and then grabs a guillotine choke attempt one more time. Brown again avoids it. 10-9 Benitez.
Round 2. Benitez lands a few knees to the body early. Brown looks to answer with punches. Brown lands an unintentional low blow, the second of the fight, and referee Mario Yamasaki inexplicably decides to deduct a point from Brown. Terrible officiating. Brown looks for a takedown but Benitez defends it well and lands a few elbows. 10-8 Benitez.
Round 3. Brown moves in for a takedown and Benitez again looks for the guillotine choke. This time, he gets it tight and chokes Brown unconscious.
Winner: Gabriel Benitez, submission, round 3.
Jessica Eye vs. Leslie Smith
Eye is a top women's bantamweight contender who might have received a title shot at Ronda Rousey if a very close decision against Alexis Davis didn't go her way. Smith is a solid veteran who tends to have exciting fights.
Round 1. Eye goes to town early, landing a series of punches right to the jaw of Smith. Eye is connecting at a very high percentage and has much faster hands than Smith. Smith is able to counter with a few punches but Eye is landing much more. They clinch and Eye lands some uppercuts. She mixes in some kicks and a hard straight right punch. Eye opens up a cut on Smith's ear that is bleeding terribly. 10-8 Eye.
Round 2. Eye goes back to work with her active punches and lands a number to the badly damaged ear of Smith. She mixes in leg kicks to keep Smith off balance. Smith's ear is separated and they're going to have to stop the fight. Smith's ear is just in terrible shape. It's a gruesome injury.
Winner: Jessica Eye, doctor's stoppage, round 2.
Alejandro Perez vs. Jose Quinonez
This fight is the final of the bantamweight tournament on Ultimate Fighter Latin America. It's an all Mexican final with Perez coming into the fight with a 14-5 record and Quinonez showing great charisma on the show and holding a previous win over Perez.
Round 1. After a feeling out process, Perez goes for a takedown. Quinonez reverses and takes top position, but Perez returns to his feet. Quinonez catches a kick and gets a takedown. He lands a few punches but Perez then stands back up. Perez lands a knee on the feet that forces Quinonez to back off. Perez lands some nice leg kicks while Quinonez uses some crisp jabs to keep Perez at bay. Perez lands a few hard punches to the chin of Quinonez. Close round. 10-9 Perez.
Round 2. The fighters return to a competitive standup affair. Perez is throwing more in the way of kicks while Quinonez is moving quickly and coming in with punches. Quinonez backs up Perez with a punch. Quinonez goes for a takedown but Perez stuffs it with ease. Quinonez lands a few big punches and charges after Perez looking to land more. He drops an off balance Perez with a punch but Perez quickly returns to his feet. 10-9 Quinonez.
Round 3. Perez connects early with a nice hook. Quinonez answers with a punch of his own but Perez gets a takedown. Perez looks for a choke but cannot get it and then an arm bar but cannot get that either. Quinonez takes side control and lands some hard punches and knees to the body. Quinonez looks to set up an arm triangle choke from the top and Perez is only defending. Quinonez throws an illegal head butt from the top that cuts Perez. Referee John McCarthy decides to deduct two points for that, handing the fight to Perez. Nothing else matters. 10-9 Quinonez, 29-28 Quinonez. But thanks to a whopping two point deduction for a single head butt, 28-27 Perez.
Winner: Alejandro Perez, unanimous decision (29-26, 29-26, 28-27).
Yair Rodriguez vs. Leonardo Morales
This is the other final from the Ultimate Fighter Latin America, featuring the featherweights. Morales sports a 4-0 record and is the only non-Mexican to have made the finals while Rodriguez represents Mexico at 3-1.
Round 1. Rodriguez is the aggressor early, pushing forward with punches and kicks but nothing lands well. The crowd loudly chants for Mexico. Rodriguez clinches and takes Morales down. He lands in dominant full mount position. Morales rolls over and Rodriguez looks for a rear naked choke submission. Morales gets out of trouble but Rodriguez then looks for an arm bar submission. Morales is able to avoid the submission and ends up on top. Morales throws down some punches while Rodriguez looks for a heel hook. They return to the feet and Morales lands a couple big punches. Morales got the best of the standup but Rodriguez the best of the groundwork. 10-9 Rodriguez.
Round 2. Rodriguez looks for a takedown but Morales is able to stuff it. Rodriguez goes for another and this time he gets it. Rodriguez works from the half guard position, landing a few punches. He goes for a cartwheel kick and then grabs a heel hook. He can't secure it. He does land a nice upkick in the midst of the attempt. 10-9 Rodriguez.
Round 3. Morales connects with a hard punch early. He lands a couple solid kicks to follow. Morales definitely looks to have an advantage on the feet but Rodriguez has been able to keep Morales grounded for most of the fight. Morales lands an additional hard kick to the body. They clinch and Morales uses a nice throw on Rodriguez. Rodriguez gets right back up. The pace slows, with Morales not showing much urgency given he's likely down two rounds. He is landing the best blows but time runs out. 10-9 Morales, 29-28 Rodriguez.
Winner: Yair Rodriguez, unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Edgar Garcia vs. Hector Urbina
Garcia is a Mexican fighter with a 14-3 career record but 0-2 in the UFC. Urbina is a 16-8-1 journeyman fighter with few wins of consequence.
Round 1. Both men are active with kicks early, although neither lands solidly. Garcia does land a nice straight punch. Garcia gets Urbina to the ground and nicely gets his hooks in to secure Urbina's body. Garcia lands some hard punches to the side of the head and looks for a rear naked choke. Urbina is able to roll out of Garcia's control and takes top position. Garcia tries to stand up but Urbina grabs his neck in the process and looks for a guillotine choke. Urbina then transitions to an anaconda choke attempt but he can't get that either and they return to the feet. Urbina grabs the neck again, cranks a guillotine choke, and gets the tap.
Winner: Hector Urbina, submission, round 1.
In preliminary action, Mexico's Marco Beltran won a unanimous decision victory in an excellent fight over Ecuador's Marlon Vera and fellow Mexican Enrique Briones weathered early trouble to stun Argentine Guido Cannetti with a punch and secure a second round submission.