It was not exactly what mixed martial arts or even grappling fans envisioned when UFC 151 was announced, but nonetheless, in a pairing of MMA legends on Sunday in Portland, Oregon, Jon Jones stepped into the cage against Dan Henderson and made him submit in the headliner of Submission Underground 2.
After several minutes of well-received theatrics aimed to entertain the crowd, “Jonny Bones” put Henderson on the mat and passed his guard, eventually mounting his fellow all-time MMA great and cinching up an arm-triangle choke that forced “Hendo” to tap at the 6:39 mark.
The former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight king, Jones, 29, is currently serving a one-year suspension related to his positive test for clomiphene and Letrozol ahead of his slated rematch with Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 in July, while the 46-year-old Henderson gave a nod towards potential retirement after his Oct. 8 loss to Michael Bisping in a middleweight title challenge at UFC 204. The pair was previously scheduled to compete at the infamous, canceled UFC 151 event on Sept. 1, 2012, but when an MCL injury forced Henderson to withdraw a week prior to the event, Jones opted against fighting replacement Chael Sonnen on short notice.
Coincidentally, it is Sonnen -- Jones’ eventual UFC 159 foil and Henderson’s former Team Quest training partner -- who promotes the Submission Underground event.
After Jones started the bout with his characteristic crawl on all fours, he and Henderson decided to jokingly flash their MMA skills. First, Henderson pretended to throw his trademark overhand right at Jones when he attempted to bump fists, followed by Jones grinning and faking a spinning back elbow at Henderson. However, three minutes into the grappling contest, Jones ducked low for a takedown, plopped “Hendo” on the mat and got to work before securing the submission. He then called out the aforementioned Sonnen himself.
“I’m thinking me and you, Chael, should do a little something, something,” Jones said, attempting to set up Submission Underground 3 six weeks from now.
Ever the promoter, Sonnen naturally replied: “In that case, I’ll see you on Jan. 29.”
While Henderson faltered, another recently retired UFC alum had success, as former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate topped fellow Octagon vet Jessica Eye in overtime via a quicker escape time. However, “Cupcake” may have had her chance for a legitimate finish marred by poor officiating.
In the overtime rounds, Tate was able to start in back control and hold the Ohio native secure for over two minutes, while in subsequent OT periods, Eye could not contain Tate for more than mere seconds, even when she transitioned from the back to spider web position, threatening for an armbar.
Perhaps no overtime would have been necessary with sounder refereeing. During regulation, Tate went for a lateral drop from the clinch which put her on the bottom, but the former UFC and Strikeforce champ locked up an armbar and rolled her foe into spider web position. Tate was able to get extension on her armbar and the official stepped in to halt the bout, but Eye, who did not appear to concede, claimed she did not tap out, forcing an awkward restart from neutral position, prolonging the bout.
In other action, former UFC title challenger and well-traveled MMA veteran Jeff Monson earned a submission win in overtime against Gracie Barra’s Warren Brooks. The 45-year-old Monson started on Brooks’ back in the first overtime period and, after some vigorous hand-fighting, needed just 46 seconds to secure a rear-naked choke victory.
Elsewhere, Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships veteran Joseph Baize needed only 30 seconds to force a tap from Shaun Kiatvongharoen via heel hook, and Kyra Batara topped Rita Gribben via superior escape time in the extension period.