Joseph Benavidez fought a close scrap with Henry Cejudo, but it was Benavidez who came out on top in the co-main event at The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Benavidez pulled out a split decision over Cejudo, earning judges’ scores of 27-29, 30-26 and 29-27.
Cejudo struck early, hitting Benavidez with a combination topped off with a left hook that rocked his opponent. Benavidez recovered nicely, though, and found his footing soon after absorbing the shots. Each fighter had their moments in the opening round, going back and forth in exchanging flurries of punches.
Punches weren’t the only strikes to land in the first round, however, because Cejudo landed two kicks to the groin in the opening frame. After the second low blow, Cejudo was deducted a point and fought from behind for the rest of the bout.
The second round remained close. Benavidez popped in and out to landed combinations. Cejudo countered nearly every time his opponent threw a strike.
The third round showed Cejudo slightly slowing down. Benavidez took advantage and landed solid combinations, circling out of Cejudo’s range soon after getting his shots in. The final minute of the fight saw both fighter using up their gas tanks to land a fight-ending blow, but time expired and the judges’ decision came after.
With the win, Benavidez wins his sixth in a row and puts himself in a great position to fight next for the flyweight title.