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Donald Cerrone earns close decision

BOSTON -- Two fights in 15 days. Two wins in 15 days for Donald Cerrone.

Cerrone (27-6) defeated Ben Henderson via unanimous decision in the co-main event of a UFC Fight Night on Sunday. The event took place inside TD Garden.

All three judges scored the 155-pound contest 29-28 for Cerrone, who fought just 15 days prior at UFC 182 in Las Vegas. ESPN.com scored the very close lightweight bout 29-28 for Henderson.

It marked the third meeting between the two. They fought in October 2009 and again in April 2010 under the WEC banner. Henderson (21-5) won both bouts, via unanimous decision and first-round submission, respectively.

This is a hard victory for me to celebrate; this is tough." Cerrone said. "I thought he was going to wrestle me a lot. I had one good kick in me, because I was banged up from the Jury fight, so I only had one good kick and I was saving it.

"He beat me twice and that was weighing in the back of my mind going into this fight. The first round was close; second round, I took him down, but I don't know, I'm not a judge. They say don't leave it to the judges because you don't know what fight they're watching. I went in there wild and crazy like I am.

"Five rounds with Ben is what we always need. We'll do it again."

Henderson, who looked incredulous as the decision was read, was originally supposed to fight Eddie Alvarez, but Alvarez was forced to withdraw late. Cerrone agreed to step in on short notice. It marked the fourth quickest turnaround by any fighter in UFC history.

The lightweight bout was closely contested throughout. Henderson got off to a solid start, keeping Cerrone off-rhythm with a long side kick to the thigh. Cerrone struggled to find his way past the kick and left the opening round with a welt under his left eye.

Cerrone occasionally responded with his own offense, however, and appeared to land harder strikes than Henderson, albeit less of them. He targeted Henderson with outside leg kicks and landed a nice straight right hand after stuffing a Henderson takedown late in the first round.

Somewhat surprisingly, Henderson did not attempt many takedowns and quickly abandoned the few he did. He went back to work with leg kicks and a few body punches in the middle frame. Cerrone, though, scored a crushing left hook during one exchange and scored one takedown late -- although Henderson managed to pop back up seconds later.

The third round was back and forth, as Henderson continued to generate more volume while Cerrone scored with counter shots. Henderson leapt into a beautiful flying knee midway through the round, but ate a right head kick as he reset. The Boston crowd sensed the close was fight in the final minute, rising to its feet and cheering both lightweights on.

Ultimately, it goes down as Cerrone's seventh consecutive win. Fighting out of Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Cerrone was ranked the No. 4 lightweight in the world by ESPN.com heading into the fight. The win could set Cerrone up with a meeting against highly-ranked Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Henderson suffers back-to-back losses for the first time in his career. He suffered a first-round knockout loss to Rafael dos Anjos in August.

Hall cuts Stallings' night short

A short right hand from Uriah Hall did not knock Ron Stallings out -- but it did end his night.

Hall (10-4) scored a TKO over Stallings at 3:37 of the first round, when a cageside doctor ruled Stallings could not continue due to a cut near his left eye. It is the sixth knockout of Hall's career.

Stallings (12-7) accepted the fight on six days' notice, after two previous Hall opponents were forced to withdraw due to injury. Stallings made weight and appeared loose in the 185-pound contest, but could not match Hall's speed in the first round.

"I don't think it was necessarily fair because he didn't have time to train," Hall said. "I give him props for coming out there; I have a lot of respect for him.

After absorbing a few kicks to the leg and body from Stallings, Hall scored a nice front kick to the body and attempted two spinning wheel kicks -- neither of which landed clean. As he backed up slightly to the fence midway through the round, Hall landed a hard, short right to Stallings' left eye that immediately opened a cut.

Stallings staggered backwards from the shot and fell to his back. Hall followed him to the floor, where he landed a series of elbows -- one of which, opened another cut on Stallings' cheek. The 31-year-old Stallings was able to create space between he and Hall, however, and Hall motioned for him to get back to his feet.

Before restarting action, referee Herb Dean paused the fight to have the cageside physician examine Stallings. It was determined at that time he could no longer continue. It is the third time Stallings has been knocked out in his career.

Hall, runner-up of "The Ultimate Fighter" 27 reality series, is now 3-2 in the UFC and has won three in a row. He lost his first two fights in the Octagon via split decision to Kelvin Gastelum and John Howard, but has rebounded with three dominant performances since.

Tibau earns win, unique distinction

Gleison Tibau is officially the winningest fighter in UFC history to have never fought for a title.

The Brazilian veteran earned his 16th UFC win in the form of a split decision over Norman Parke. Judges Sal D'Amato and Chris Lee scored the lightweight contest for Tibau, 29-28. Judge Steve Rita had it for Parke, 29-28.

The win moves Tibau (33-10) ahead of middleweight Michael Bisping for the distinction of most wins in the Octagon, without ever earning a title shot. Tibau has fought for the promotion since 2007. His longest win streak during that time has been three.

"It was a tough fight," Tibau said. "Parke is a good, strong fighter. Taking him down was tough."

I had five weeks to get ready for this fight, and started at 195 pounds; I'm going to try to keep my weight lower and fight four more times this year and set the record for the most wins of all time in the UFC.

The difference in the fight was arguably Tibau's takedown defense, as he stifled one single leg shot after another from Parke (20-3-1). Both lightweights struggled to find their range on the feet, but it was Tibau who ultimately landed the cleaner shots to squeak out the 16th decision of his career.

Fighting out of a southpaw stance, Tibau looked to locate the straight left throughout the fight. He came up short the majority of the time, but Parke was unable to make him pay with counter punches. Each fighter, in fact, typically came up short in exchanges, as both seemed unwilling to really mix it up in the pocket.

Despite numerous takedown attempts from Parke, it was Tibau who scored a takedown in the second round -- although he did little with it. In the third round, Tibau briefly caught Parke in a standing guillotine attempt, but never came close to finishing the fight.

Tibau ties his personal longest UFC winning streak at three. He out-pointed Pat Healy and Piotr Hallmann in his previous two meetings.

Parke, 28, suffers his first setback in the UFC and first professional loss since March 2010.

Pendred survives to outpoint Spencer

Despite a nightmarish first round, Cathal Pendred rallied to collect his third UFC win (and even won every round, according to two judges).

Pendred (16-2-1) was badly hurt on his feet early, but managed to survive and fight Spencer much closer in the second and third. Judges Doug Crosby and Eric Colon somehow gave Pendred all three rounds, for a final score of 30-27. David Ginsberg had it for Pendred, 29-28.

"This win feels awesome," Pendred said. "I think I controlled the fight and controlled the standup and the feet and the clinch. I knew he was a standup fighter so I've been working on [striking] and wanted to show everyone.

"Next, I'd like to move up toward a guy ranked in the top 15. If I could get one of those, that would be great. I just want a number of solid names."

In the first round, Spencer (12-4) connected two right crosses to Pendred's chin and then dropped him with a left hook. Pendred bounced to his feet, only to eat another haymaker of a right hand by Spencer. Nevertheless, Pendred managed to tie him up in a clinch and slow the pace.

Pendred even scored a takedown with less than a minute in the first, but Spencer rose back to his feet immediately.

After enjoying success with the right hand in the opening frame, Spencer forced it a bit in the next round. He walked Pendred backwards with the jab, but repeatedly followed it with the same winging right hand, which Pendred started to pick off and counter.

Midway through the round, however, Spencer settled down and started to dictate the striking again. Pendred scored a takedown late and briefly threatened Spencer with a leg scissors on the floor, but Spencer escaped before the end of the round.

Both fighters appeared slightly fatigued in the third. Spencer defended the majority of Pendred's takedown attempts, but his striking grew sluggish and he again became predictable with the right hand. Pendred scored a late single leg takedown that might have sealed him the round in judges' eyes.

Pendred, who fights out of Dublin, extends his current winning streak to seven. Spencer drops to 3-3 in the UFC.

Spencer expressed his disappointment with the decision but also gave credit to Pendred.

"I tried to put him away and put on a good fight, show heart and determination and put on a good show," Spencer said." I learned a lot of lessons.

"It's hard to say what the judges saw. I hate letting it go to the judges scorecard. I thought I won some of those exchanges, but that's not what they saw. I'll have to go back and look at the tape."

Larkin handles Howard in welterweight debut

It was only one fight, but Lorenz Larkin sure looked like a natural welterweight against John Howard.

Larkin (15-4) dropped Howard with a straight right hand early in the first round before finishing him with strikes on the ground. Referee Herb Dean stopped the fight at the 2:17 mark.

The 28-year-old Larkin entered the bout on a three-fight losing streak. Larkin has long flashed potential, but struggled to put it all together as a light heavyweight and middleweight.

Larkin looked outstanding in his 170-pound debut, however, quickly establishing his lightning quick jab and looking to build off it. Howard (22-11) pushed him to the fence at one point after catching a kick, but Larkin, used to dealing with aggressive, bigger opponents, calmly defended the takedown and eventually circled off.

He ate a few outside leg kicks from Howard, but his hand speed visibly had the veteran uncomfortable. The right hand down the middle didn't drop Howard initially, but it staggered him and he eventually fell to his rear as Larkin came rushing forward. A dazed Howard attempted to trap a single leg, but Larkin dropped follow-up left hands to finish the fight.

"Considering the streak I had been on, I was nothing but nervous coming into this fight," Larkin said. "My coaches got me extremely prepared for this fight, and they said in the beginning to just be calm and feel him out and go from there. I did exactly that and it worked out perfectly.

"To tell you the truth, I'm excited about the win, but I'm not going to be really excited or feel how I should feel until I get rid of this past record. It doesn't really matter who I face next -- I just want to get to where I need to be."

Larkin moves to 2-4 overall in the UFC. It marked his first knockout win since April 2011.

Howard, who was fighting in front of his hometown, drops to 0-3 in his last three bouts.

"I let myself down, I let my city down," Howard said. "I never got finished like that -- not in the UFC. He was the better fighter tonight. He had a straight right cross that landed and I have to give him a lot of credit.

"I'll go back and look at the fight and make adjustments. I'm just disappointed that I let Boston down.