On Saturday, April 20, the UFC held UFC on Fox 7 from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.

In the night’s main event, UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson put his belt on the line against former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez. Henderson entered the contest having gone 6-0 inside the Octagon, capturing the 155-pound title in February of last year. Meanwhile, Melendez rode a seven-fight winning streak of his own into the bout, dating back to 2009. The Californian made his long-awaited Octagon debut with a chance at UFC gold.

Also on the main card, Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix winner Daniel Cormier made his UFC debut against former UFC champion Frank Mir, Ultimate Fighter winner Nate Diaz clashed with former Strikeforce champion Josh Thomson, and Matt Brown looked for his fifth straight win as he battled Strikeforce import Jordan Mein.

The 12-fight event kicked off at 4 p.m. ET with two bouts streaming on the promotion’s YouTube and Facebook pages. Six additional bouts followed on FX at 5 p.m. ET, with the Fox-broadcast main card began at 8 p.m. ET.

Henderson edges out Melendez to retain lightweight title

In the main event of the evening, it was UFC champion Benson Henderson versus former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez to determine the identity of best lightweight on the planet.

After a feeling out process to begin the fight, both men battled for position to score points. Neither could leave a mark to control the momentum, but both had their moments when they connected with strikes, especially Melendez. It was a very close first of five rounds.

Melendez continued to use his hands more effectively than Henderson, coming forward and bringing the fight to the champion. Henderson turned it on in the final minute of round two, trying to score with strikes, but it may not have been enough to earn him the round.

Henderson looked to steal the momentum to begin round three, landing effectively, but Melendez answered back with punches of his own. “Smooth” took Melendez down for a few seconds, but Melendez returned to his feet easily after Henderson couldn’t control him. The two returned to their feet, brawling and battling for much-needed points. In the final seconds, Henderson took the legs out from under Melendez and landed shots on top until the horn sounded.

The champion worked his kicks as the fight reached the championship rounds, and he attempted a takedown that was stopped by Melendez. As the round wore on, it appeared Henderson was much fresher than Melendez. Melendez landed solid right hands in the final seconds to send it to the fifth.

The final round became very important, as the fight was very evenly contested. Henderson stayed smart by coming in, then transitioned out once Melendez looked to close the distance. Just when Henderson would have a nice exchange, Melendez answered back to combinations of his own.

In a split decision verdict, Henderson earned the nod to retain his title.

Cormier outworks Mir to earn decision

Heavyweights took over the cage in the co-main event, where former champion Frank Mir welcomed Daniel Cormier to the UFC.

Mir started the fight with many kicks and knees, keeping the wrestler at bay. But Cormier was able to come forward, press his opponent against the cage and pick his shots for punches and knees to the body. Mir appeared much lighter on his feet, but unable to take the fight to Cormier to do damage.

In the second round, Cormier continued to wear down Mir by clinching against the cage, breaking away and attacking when he had opportunities. Cormier dictated where the fight went and scored points with his hands, with Mir not showing much offensively.

Once again, in the third stanza, Cormier wanted the fight against the cage, and he put Mir there to open the round. But Mir had his best showing of the fight after separating and moving away from the cage, landing with his hands and a kick to the midsection. Cormier pressed Mir back against the fence to slow the pace down again until referee Herb Dean broke the two up.

All three judges scored the fight the same, with Cormier earning his first win inside the Octagon.

Thomson becomes first to knock out Diaz

In a lightweight battle, Nate Diaz returned to the Octagon after losing to Benson Henderson for the title to welcome Josh “The Punk” Thomson back to the UFC.

Diaz opened up by looking to establish his jab, while Thomson decided to throw leg kicks to mix things up. Thomson threw two high kicks that landed, but Diaz ate them and continued to connect with his hands. Thomson landed a takedown late in the round, then landed shots while on top.

In the second frame, the two continued to trade on the feet, with Diaz trying to keep the pace up. Diaz worked to press Thomson against the cage to dirty box, but Thomson broke away. Thomson then landed a huge head kick to stun Diaz, then used his ground-and-pound until Diaz’s corner threw in the towel to stop the fight.

Brown stops Mein in second round

In the opening fight on Fox, 23-year-old Jordan Mein stepped up to fight on Fox just a month after winning his UFC debut, but he ran into a tough veteran in Matt Brown.

Both men came out looking to brawl from the start of the fight, with Brown chasing Mein around the cage. Brown threw punches in bunches, while Mein was much more technical with accurate strikes. Mein landed a huge body shot that dropped Brown, but while on his back, Brown locked up a triangle that was very tight. Mein escaped, however, and both went back to trading. In the final seconds, Brown took over by taking the fight to Mein.

Brown came out looking to push the pace again in the second round. He hurt Mein with numerous strikes thrown. Mein dropped to the canvas and covered up as Brown landed elbows until the referee called an end to the bout.

“The Immortal” improves his win streak to five, making a statement in the UFC’s welterweight division.

Preliminary Card Summary

Former title challenger Chad Mendes continued to make a case for another shot at the featherweight belt with a first-round stoppage of Darren Elkins. Mendes was aggressive from the start, delivering multiple right hands that sent Elkins to the ground and forced the referee to halt the contest.

Middleweight Francis Carmont picked up another controversial decision win inside the Octagon, handing former Strikeforce fighter Lorenz Larkin his first official professional defeat. Larkin was the more active fighter on the feet, but Carmont netted the fight’s only takedowns, which was enough on the scorecards.

In a battle of Ultimate Fighter veterans, Myles Jury bested Ramsey Nijem with a violent one-punch knockout. The first round was a technical battle, with each fighter having strong moments. But in round two, Jury connected with a massive right hand that turned the lights out on Nijem.

Joseph Benavidez reinforced the notion that he’s one of the flyweight division’s elite with a dominant performance against submission ace Darren Uyenoyama. Benavidez battered Uyenoyama from the opening bell, ultimately scoring a second-round TKO.

Former Strikeforce lightweight title challenger Jorge Masvidal proved he belonged in the Octagon, taking a unanimous decision and handing Tim Means his first UFC defeat. Masvidal’s wrestling proved to be too much for the towering Means over the course of three rounds.

Bantamweight T.J. Dillashaw scored an impressive first-round TKO win over TUF Brazil veteran Hugo Viana. The pair traded shots early, but it was Dillashaw who delivered the more damaging punches, forcing the referee to intervene.

After a back-and-forth opening stanza, lightweight Anthony Njokuani scored a violent knockout of Roger Bowling in the second round. Njokuani delivered a left hook flush to Bowling’s jaw and sent him crashing to the canvas.

Strikeforce veteran and Olympic silver medalist wrestler Yoel Romero put the middleweight division on notice with a vicious first-round flying knee knockout of Clifford Starks.

FULL RESULTS

Benson Henderson def. Gilbert Melendez by split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47) – for lightweight title
Daniel Cormier def. Frank Mir by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Josh Thomson def. Nate Diaz by TKO (head kick and punches). Round 2, 3:44
Matt Brown def. Jordan Mein by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 1:00
Chad Mendes def. Darren Elkins by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 1:08
Francis Carmont def. Lorenz Larkin by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Myles Jury def. Ramsey Nijem by knockout (punch). Round 2, 1:02
Joseph Benavidez def. Darren Uyenoyama by TKO (strikes). Round 2, 4:50
Jorge Masvidal def. Tim Means by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
T.J. Dillashaw def. Hugo Viana by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 4:22
Anthony Njokuani def. Roger Bowling by knockout (left hook). Round 2, 2:52
Yoel Romero def. Clifford Starks by knockout (flying knee and punches). Round 1, 1:32

Photo: Benson Henderson (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.