They say the last thing to go for a fighter is his power. At age 44, Dan Henderson has still got it.
Henderson rocked Tim Boetsch in the opening minute with his patented "H-bomb" right hand on Saturday and finished him off moments later for a first-round TKO in just 28 seconds.
The middleweight bout headlined a UFC Fight Night card at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, as Henderson (31-13) snapped a two-fight losing skid and recorded just his second victory since 2011.
"Obviously, I can't feel bad about that one," Henderson said. "It's nice when I say I'm not done, and nobody believes me to prove that I'm not done."
Henderson moved into second place for most career wins under the banners of UFC, Pride, Strikeforce and WEC with 24, trailing Wanderlei Silva by just three.
Boetsch (18-9) landed the first significant strike with a kick to the body, but Henderson countered his followup combination with a perfect right hand to the mouth that buckled his knees. A knee to the head from Henderson inflicted more damage before he dropped Boetsch with a right uppercut.
Henderson swarmed Boetsch against the cage with a flurry of unanswered right hands, which forced referee John McCarthy to rescue him.
"I felt I got him hurt with that right hand, but he didn't quite drop," Henderson said. "I caught him a little bit with the knee, but I think it was the uppercut that got him. I wasn't going to let him off the hook. The fight was almost over, and I wanted to make sure he was done."
Boetsch, 34, fell to just 2-5 in his past seven bouts. Henderson recorded his first win since stopped Mauricio Rua in their March 2014 rematch.
"It feels great, and I really appreciate all the support from all of the fans," Henderson said. "It's why I'm here and what I love about the sport.
"If I stick at it long enough, everybody will love me eventually. It always feels great to have that respect. I respect everybody in the sport and what the fans have helped build out there in the sport of MMA. What it is now compared to what it was when I started is unbelievable."
Rothwell forces Mitrione to submit
Ben Rothwell's surprising run into heavyweight contention continued Saturday with a first-round submission of Matt Mitrione.
After Mitrione (9-4) was successful on his first takedown attempt, Rothwell quickly rose to his feet and seamlessly transitioned into a front choke. A stunned Mitrione tapped out within seconds after the two fighters fell to the ground at 1:54 of the opening round.
"I came in here expecting anything," Rothwell said. "As you can see, there is more to me than just knockouts. [The choke] was pretty deep, so I knew that [Mitrione tapping out] would come soon."
Rothwell (35-9), 33, started slowly, eating a steady stream of punches from the southpaw Mitrione, who boxed well from the outside. But just like his upset TKO of Alistair Overeem in September, the end came just as quickly as it did surprisingly.
After securing his third straight win, a bold Rothwell let loose on the microphone.
"That's actions that speak louder than words. And mixed martial artist as you once knew me, I am no more," Rothwell said. "I am something completely different.
"The only fight that matters to me now is the No. 1 contender spot. I will have the UFC title. I know right now there is not a man on this planet that can stop me in this Octagon, and only politics can slow me. I don't have much left to say, other than you haven't seen nothing yet."
The loss snapped a three-fight win streak for Mitrione, 36, a former NFL defensive lineman.
Poirier stops Medeiros in Round 1
Poirier (18-4) put on a striking display to put away Medeiros by TKO at 2:38 of Round 1 in a bout contested at a catchweight of 159.5 pounds after Medeiros missed weight Friday.
"I've said it before, but I feel really good at this weight," Poirier said. "I can punch, I can crack, and I can move. And it feels good to be home in Louisiana."
Poirier, 26, a native of Lafayette, Louisiana, continued to put his loss to red-hot featherweight contender Conor McGregor the past September in the rearview mirror with his second straight first-round stoppage at lightweight.
Medeiros (11-3), a native of Hawaii, was game throughout, despite eating a ton of flush strikes. Poirier, though, simply would not be denied.
"If you are a fight fan, you know how Hawaii boys come. They never say die," Poirier said. "[Medeiros] came here to fight, and I knew it. He stood there and stayed in the pocket -- didn't try to hunt me or hold me. He was a very honorable guy."
Poirier ate a left hook to the chin early but followed with an overhand right that floored Medeiros and badly hurt him. Poirier followed up with a left cross that dropped him a second time. He would get the stoppage moments later on the feet, with a series of flush hooks that forced referee John McCarthy to call a halt.
"I love what I do. This is me. Fighting is me," Poirier said. "I was draining myself at 145. I sound like a broken record, but my body is bigger, and I feel like myself at 155."
Ortega shows heart, power to finish Tavares
Featherweight Brian Ortega's relentlessness was enough to keep him in the fight during a rough second round. It was also enough to finally break Thiago Tavares in Round 3.
Ortega, 24, kept his unbeaten mark alive by altering his strategy in the final round and finishing Tavares on the ground with strikes during an exciting TKO win. Looking to fight off his back in hopes of catching Tavares with a submission, Ortega spent most of the first two rounds absorbing strikes from his back. He was also covered in his opponent's blood after opening a bad cut above Tavares' eye with a pair of elbows in Round 1.
"He was on top of me, and his blood went right in my mouth," Ortega said. "I was like 'ewwww.' It was so warm."
But Ortega (9-0) decided to fight off his feet in Round 3 and took advantage of a fatiguing Tavares (23-6-1) by landing a series of punches upstairs.
"I felt like I wanted this fight to go on the ground, but he did exactly what he wanted to and took me down," Ortega said. "He was very good, and he stopped all my submissions. We had to change up the plan and go to the standup."
Tavares, who has taken down 15 of his 16 UFC opponents and recorded five against Ortega, was floored by a big right hand late in Round 3. Ortega quickly mounted him and poured down hammer fists until referee Dan Miragliotta ended matters at 4:10.
The victory is Ortega's first in the UFC after his debut in July 2014 was ruled a no contest, after he tested positive for a banned substance.
Birchak walks right through Soto
After flooring Soto early with a right hand to the face, Birchak finished the job along the cage less than a minute later. A right uppercut caught Soto flush and sent him face-first to the ground as referee John McCarthy called a halt to the bout at 1:37 of the opening round.
"Did I get knocked out? Am I dreaming?" Birchak said. "This is literally a dream come true. Daddy is coming home with a big, big win."
Birchak (12-2) was the aggressor throughout and landed a series of accurate strikes by varying his attack. With Soto hurt and his back against the cage, Birchak, 29, unloaded with a relentless mixture of hooks, uppercuts and short elbows leading to the stoppage.
"[The fight] pretty much lived up to my expectations," said Birchak, who lost his UFC debut in December by submission against Ian Entwistle. "I wanted to come in and really lay hands on him. They call me 'The Bull,' and if you mess with the bull, you get the horns."
Soto (15-4), a former Bellator featherweight champion, made his UFC debut in August and lost to bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw by fifth-round knockout as a late replacement for former champion Renan Barao.
Rivera makes quick work of Caceres
Rivera (11-4) floored Caceres with a looping left hook to the jaw and quickly followed with punches on the ground before referee Dan Miragliotta jumped in to wave it off. An emotional Rivera, 33, was brought to tears during his celebration. "Being away from my kids during training camp, I wasn't able to spend time with them," Rivera said. "I was actually hurt during training camp. I kept fighting and training hard. To come out of this with a win like this is huge for me."
Caceres (10-8), 26, never had a chance to get going and was stunned early by a counter right hand moments before the stoppage. The loss was his third straight in the Octagon.
"[Caceres] is a crafty guy -- tall and lanky. But I feel like I'm one of the top bantamweights in the world," Rivera said. "I have to prove, and I have to keep going.
"My coaches know I have heavy hands, and I just have to make sure my technique is on point, and I can knock anyone out."