Jeremy Stephens edged out Renan Barao by unanimous decision tonight at UFC Fight Night 88 after hurting the former bantamweight champion with punches in a hard fought battle.

Round One:

Barao with a leg kick. One in return from Stephens. Kick upstairs from Barao. Two leg kicks from Stephens.

Spinning kick for Barao doesn’t find a home. Nice one-two from Barao to the head. Good punches again from Barao in close.

One-two from Stephens now. High kick from Stephens that’s blocked. Leg kick for Barao. Short flurry from Barao and Stpehens wings a counter that misses.

Barao pounces in on a takedown attempt and rushes Stephens to the cage. Knee for Barao as he continues to work for a potential takedown. Exchange of knees. Stephens able to move away.

left hand for Barao. Body kick now. Stephens clinches to the cage. Knees from Barao in close. Stephens trying for a takedown, but nothing doing and they break free.

Exchange in close and both men survive intact. Right hand for Barao as Stephens misses with punches. Barao tries for the takedown again, but Stephens stuffs it against the cage.

Barao continues to work though and spins Stephens around, but he’s able to just about keep his balance. Still standing, Barao moves to his back, but that’s where the round ends.

Round Two:

Leg kick for Barao. He gets the better of a brief exchange. Solid straight right from Stephens. Takedown attempt from Barao is stuffed.

Barao again in on the takedown, but nothing doing. Right hand for Barao. Stephens steps into a hard kick. Good uppercut for Stephens.

Stpehens having some success with strikes here. That uppercut again and that big connection wobbled Barao who staggers backwards.

Stephens continues to press forward. Another uppercut. A hook lands. Good chin shown by Barao, but he can’t keep taking these.

Barao tries to change the momentum with a takedown attempt, but Stephens continues to stuff that and then reverses the clinch against the cage.

They break apart with two minutes to go in the round. Spinning back kick from Barao, but it’s blocked. Kick from Stephens is also blocked.

Leg kick for Stephens. Left hand lands for Barao. Straight right for Stephens sends Barao backwards. Left hook connects, but Barao takes it.

Leg kick attempt for Stephens, but Barao times it very well and finally lands the takedown. Stephens doesn’t take long to get back to his feet though, and that’s the last action of the round.

Round Three:

Leg kick for Barao. Lands a jab. Another kick. Jab for Stephens then targets the body. Stephens just misse with a left hook.

Leg kick for Barao. Combination from Barao. Punch to the body from Stephens. Couple of left hands for Barao to set up a takedown attempt, but it fails and Stephens reverses him against the cage.

Knee strikes for Stephens. Barao breaks away. Left hand for Barao, punch in return from Stephens and then another left for Barao.

Right hand for Barao, uppercut from Stephens. Solid leg kic kfor Stephens. Left hand for Barao. Punch and then a takedown attempt for Barao and this time he is able to suck Stephens legs out from under him and works hard to put him to the mat. Stephens looking to stand, but Barao trying to work around to his back.

Stephens able to get back to the clinch though, pushing Barao against the cage. Barao moves away.

Uppercut for Stephens. Spinning kick attempt for Barao. Left hand for Stephens. Right hand connects for Barao. Barao clocked with a hard right hook.

Right hand for Barao. Left hook for him. Stephens clinches. They move away. Stephens with a spinning backfist attempt that just wings over his opponents head.

Both men looking for more, but the round and indeed the fight comes to a close shortly afterwards.

Decision:

Good fight, but Stephens had the edge overall with powerful punches and excellent takedown defense, which gives him the unanimous decision victory (29-28 x3).

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