Danny Castillo hung on for a tough split decision victory over Anthony Njokuani at UFC 141 on Friday night, using his suprior grappling to win the first and third rounds and withstanding a barrage of strikes from Njokuani in the second.
The crowd in Las Vegas booed the decision, but it was the right one: Castillo deserved to win 29-28, as he did on two cards. One judge gave it to Njokuani 29-28.
"I thought it was close but not controversial," Castillo said. "I thought it was close. He might have won the second."
In the first round we saw exactly what we expected: The classic striker vs. grappler fight, with Njokuani landing a couple of good punches in the first minute of the first round but Castillo then grabbing hold of Njokuani, clinching him against the fence and eventually taking him down. Castillo spent most of the rest of the round in a dominant position, and although Njokuani did briefly turn the tables and attempt a guillotine choke, Castillo simply picked Njokuani up and slammed him down to escape. It was a good first round for Castillo.
In the second round Njokuani was more patient and waited to pick the right shots, and that paid off: Njokuani landed a hard punch that wobbled Castillo and then controlled Castillo in a Thai clinch and landed knees. Eventually Castillo managed to grab a leg and take Njokuani down, but the second round was a good one for Njokuani.
The third round demonstrated Njokuani's fatal flaw: He's simply too one-dimensional a fighter. Castillo grabbed hold of Njokuani early in the third round, took him down, and largely controlled the final five minutes with his grappling, which Njokuani had no answer for. Castillo deserved the decision, and he got it.