The UFC made its first appearance in Ireland on Jan. 17 at the O2 Arena in Dublin and received a warm welcome. UFC president Dana White noted after the fight it might have been the best crowd he'd seen at one of his events and said he would bring a show back to Ireland.
White discussed the possibility of hosting an annual St. Patrick's Day card in Dublin. The main event was a contest between Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson, with the twist being that the winner would serve as a coach on Season 9 of "The Ultimate Fighter."
Henderson won a split decision over Franklin, neutralizing his opponent's power by circling away from his left hand repeatedly. Despite being 38, Henderson said he didn't think he'd lost much.
"I feel like I'm the same Dan Henderson [despite my age]," he said. "Obviously, those first two [UFC] fights were two [scheduled] five-round fights. I think I almost [over] prepared for those. I was real ready, conditioning-wise. For whatever reason, I got a little tired this fight in that third round.
"I don't know if it was from getting nailed in the ribs or just getting tired. Either way, I'm the same fighter. I had a good day today."
Henderson landed a spot as coach of the U.S. team on Season 9 of TUF. TUF 9 was the introduction of a new format, with a team of U.S. fighters meeting a squad of U.K. fighters, coached by Michael Bisping.
Dublin native Thomas Egan received an enormous amount of local media attention, but he was dominated and submitted in the first round by John Hathaway.
A light heavyweight fight between Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Mark Coleman was somehow awarded Fight of the Night, despite the fact that both men were completely gassed in the third round and could barely move. Rua, returning from knee surgery, finished the 44-year old Coleman late in the third round.
Veteran middleweight Denis Kang was upset in his UFC debut, being submitted by Alan Belcher.
Quoteworthy: "I paid a price for that, but I'm sure that by my next fight, I'll be more prepared and in better shape, with better conditioning, to give my fans a great show." – Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, defending his performance against Mark Coleman. Rua knocked out Chuck Liddell in his next fight. RESULTS
Dennis Siver def. Nate Mohr, TKO, 3:27 R3
Tomasz Drwal def. Ivan Serati, TKO, 2:02 R1
Eric Schafer def. Antonio Mendies, TKO, 3:35 R1
Martin Kampmann def. Alexandre Barros, TKO, 3:07 R2
John Hathaway def. Tom Egan, TKO, 4:36 R1
Marcus Davis def. Chris Lytle, split decision
Alan Belcher def. Denis Kang, submission (guillotine choke), 4:36 R2
Rousimar Palhares def. Jeremy Horn, unanimous decision
Mauricio Rua def. Mark Coleman, TKO, 4:36 R3
Dan Henderson def. Rich Franklin, split decision.