MEXICO CITY -- All night long, the fans at Arena Ciudad de Mexico were looking for a pair of competitors to engage in an all-out war.
Featherweights Yair Rodriguez and Charles Rosa gave them what they came to see.
The duo engaged in a thrilling battle on the UFC 188 main card, a blood-and-guts war that went all over the Octagon and from the standup to the mat and back.
In the end, Rodriguez, the TUF: Latin America winner, got the nod, taking two out of three 29-28 cards to get the split-decision victory.
Rodriguez, a Chihuahua, Mexico native who now trains in Chicago, set the tone in one of the fight’s earliest exchanges, going for a low kick with one leg and switching to a high kick with the other, which clipped Rosa in the head. When the fight hit the ground, Rodriguez got Rosa into a triangle from the bottom. Rosa escaped, waded through upkick attempts, and got back into top position. Later, in a wild scramble, Rosa nearly cinched a leglock, but Rodriguez escaped.
In he second, a Rodriguez elbow opened a nasty cut on the scalp of Rosa, an American Top Team fighter by way of Boston. At one point, referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bout to check the cut, but Rosa was cleared to continued, as the action again raged all over the cage.
The third was more of the same. Rosa scored top position, but Rodriguez landed elbows from the bottom. Rodriguez got a tight triangle, but Rosa escaped. The two kept up their spirited effort until the final horn.
The 22-year-old Rodriguez improved to 5-1; Rosa, who was visibly upset with the judges’ decision, dropped to 10-2.