In the battle to determine the winner of the featherweight 'The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America', finalists Leonardo Morales and Yair Rodriguez battled for three rounds, but it was the Mexican Rodriguez who'd emerge victorious at UFC 180 on Saturday night.
Morales took center of the cage, but Rodriguez used a lunging punch and push into the cage to trip Morales to the mat where he ended up in full mount. As Morales spun, Rodriguez sunk both hooks to the take the back. Morales was able to escape, but ended up in two armbar attempts, both of which Morales was able to escape.
Rodriguez moved into a heel hook attempt, but referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the action and stood the two up, allegedly for grabbing the fence.
Morales scored a left hand toward the end of the frame and it appeared to hurt Rodriguez, but he fired back with a right hook of his own before the bell.
In the second round after a wild back and forth, Rodriguez secured another double leg to plant Morales on the mat. Morales tried to escape, but was thrown back to the mat almost immediately. After a cartwheel kick attempt, Rodriguez attempted an outside heel hook, but Morales appeared to be too slippery. Rodriguez tried to transition to an oma plata, but Morales again was able to escape. Morales kicked the legs of Rodriguez until the Mexican scored with an upkick, which he used to then attempt another heel hook before the final bell.
By round three, Morales scored with inside kicks and a leaping left hand, but Rodriguez seemed no worse for the wear. After a right hand, Morales scored with it again, only he landed an inadvertent groin kick as well. The bout resumes a few seconds later and Morales goes back to work with kicks, this time scoring to the body.
Rodrigez stormed forward to return fire and he also landed an inadvertent groin strike, temporarily halting the bout. The bout resumed and Rodriguez attempted to return fire. Morales tried his own lateral drop, but couldn't maintain control throughout the throw. The two would finish throwing wild combinations at each other, Morales getting the slightly better of it both being proactive and on the counter.
Ultimately, the judges scored it 29-28, 29-28, 29-28 for Yair Rodriguez, the new featherweight 'The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America'.