Fighting in his hometown of Omaha, Neb., for the first time under the UFC banner, welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger was determined to win impressively Wednesday night against aggressive Diego Sanchez.
The local fans left Omaha Civic Auditorium in a very happy mood as Ellenberger dominated much of the fight en route to a unanimous-decision victory.
All three judges scored the bout 29-28 for Ellenberger, who improved to 27-5. He also extended his win streak to six.
ESPN.com also had Ellenberger winning 29-28.
Ellenberger got the better of Sanchez during the first two rounds by utilizing impressive striking and footwork.
A solid left-right combination dropped Sanchez (23-5) in the first.
In the second round, Ellenberger took Sanchez to the ground and connected with a hard left elbow. The strike opened a cut near Sanchez's right eye.
But Sanchez has proven throughout his career that he is most dangerous when wounded. And in the third round he nearly pulled off the upset.
"Diego is known for that, he's the toughest guy I've ever fought," Ellenberger said. "It's an honor to fight him.
"There are a lot of things I have to work on, but with every fight there are things I take from it."
With a little less than two minutes remaining in the fight, Sanchez was able to get the back of Ellenberger and began delivering punches.
Ellenberger not only survived the assault, but got to his feet with seconds on the clock and landed strikes of his own.
"Jake's incredibly tough," Sanchez said. "I hit him with some hard shots; I thought he was going to go out."
Struve overpowers hard-hitting Herman
At 6-foot-11 with an 84-inch reach, heavyweight Stefan Struve made it clear that he wanted to keep a lot of distance between himself and hard-hitting Dave Herman.
But Struve's lack of a jab allowed Herman to remain close for much of the first round. Struve, however, picked up his attack in the second and landed a right uppercut that sent Herman to the ground.
Herman would not return to his feet as Struve jumped on him and began delivering punches. Referee Josh Rosenthal stepped in and waved the fight off at the the 3:52 mark.
"We've been working hard on my balance and the ground and pound," said Struve, who improved to 23-5. "I can still get 10 times better."
The win was Struve's second in a row. In his previous fight, Struve defeated another hard-hitting heavyweight, Pat Barry, by triangle choke in the second round on Oct. 1.
Herman falls to 21-3.
Markes earns split decision in 185-pound debut
But Simpson is one of the top wrestlers in the UFC 185-pound division and possibly the best fighter Markes has ever faced. Simpson also has a heavy right hand in his arsenal.
Markes tasted a right uppercut from Simpson in the first that sent him to the canvas. But Markes, a former light heavyweight, survived and went on to earn a split decision.
Two judges scored it 29-28 and 29-28 for Markes. The third judge saw Simpson winning the battle 29-28. ESPN.com had Markes coming out on top, 29-28.
After a difficult opening round, Markes used his superior size to control Simpson against the cage for much of the second and third rounds. He also landed several hard kicks to Simpson's left thigh.
Markes improves to 13-1. Simpson (11-3) has his win streak halted at three.
Miocic's right hand comes through again
Stipe Miocic possesses tremendous punching power in his right hand and he relied on it against Philip De Fries in their heavyweight bout.
After getting stunned by a left hand early in the first round, Miocic rebounded by connecting with a straight right that sent De Fries to the canvas. De Fries was unable to recover and the referee waved the assault off at the 43-second mark of Round 1.
"I've got to keep my hands up," a laughing Miocic said before getting serious. "I hit him and saw him wobble a bit. I saw blood and finished him."
Miocic improves to 8-0 as a mixed martial artist. Seven of his wins have been by stoppage.
De Fries, who was fighting for the first time inside the United States, suffered his first professional loss. He is 8-1, which includes one no contest.
Dillashaw overwhelms Walel for first UFC win
After coming up short in his UFC debut on Dec. 3, T.J. Dillashaw entered a bantamweight showdown with Walel Watson badly in need of a win. And he got it.
Dillashaw used his superior speed and wrestling skills to dominate the taller Walel throughout the fight for a lopsided unanimous decision.
The judges scored the fight 30-25, 30-25 and 30-26. ESPN.com also scored the fight 30-25 for Dillashaw, who improved to 5-1.
"I definitely stuck to the fight plan, using my wrestling pedigree," said Dillashaw, who improves to 1-1 in UFC.
Dillashaw was stopped by John Dodson in the first round at "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 14 Finale, but has put that loss in the rearview mirror.
"I put that fight behind me and will continue moving forward," Dillashaw said. "My goal is to win a championship."
Walel gave up his back several times during the fight, but showed solid submission defense to finish the contest. But he could not get his offense untracked and fell to 9-4.
Rear-naked choke lifts Menjivar over Albert
The bantamweight battle between Ivan Menjivar and John Albert did not last long -- just one round -- but it was filled with back-and-forth action.
Each man had his moments: Menjivar landing the harder punches, and Albert applying submission attempts. But it was Menjivar's rear-naked choke that forced Albert to tap at 3:45 of the first round.
The veteran Menjivar (24-8) has now won three fights in a row since dropping his 135-pound debut in December 2010. Albert (7-2) is now 1-1 inside the Octagon.
Franklin McNeil covers MMA and boxing for ESPN.com. He also appears regularly on "MMA Live." Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Franklin_McNeil.