INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Dominick Cruz also defended his UFC bantamweight title with a clear unanimous decision over Urijah Faber, settling a nine-year feud in the third bout between the two California fighters.
d have fought my fight instead of messing around with him," Rockhold said.
Cruz (22-1) largely dominated his 13th consecutive victory and his first title defense since reclaiming the 135-pound belt earlier this year after four years of injury setbacks. Although Cruz never appeared to be close to a stoppage, the clear victory was even sweeter coming against Faber (33-9), his longtime rival.
"Nothing surprising," Cruz said about the win. "I'm just glad I'm here. It feels so good to be able to compete again. I thought I lost this at one point."
Faber's beef with Cruz began in 2007 and it never cooled during their two previous bouts and Cruz's years out of the sport with knee woes that forced him to vacate the title. Faber beat Cruz in their first meeting nine years ago, but Cruz evened the series with a rematch victory in 2011.
The bantamweights opened their bout at a breakneck pace, but Cruz landed the majority of the biggest punches, including a shot that dropped Faber early in the second round. Cruz repeatedly tagged Faber with left hands while largely staying out of range for Faber, who grew frustrated with his inability to engage the champion in the final four rounds.
"He caught me in the second," Faber said. "Trust me, he's got a little power. He's a heavy hitter."
Although the 37-year-old Faber is among the most accomplished fighters in MMA history, he has lost seven consecutive championship bouts dating to the defunct WEC promotion in 2008. Afterward, Faber said he will think about retirement.
Dan Henderson also knocked out Hector Lombard with a spectacular back elbow to the head in the second round, giving the beloved 45-year-old veteran his third victory in nine fights.
Henderson (32-14) also indicated he is strongly considering retirement from his 19-year professional career after he knocked the 38-year-old Lombard stiff with an elbow while Lombard (34-6-1) was holding his leg. Henderson, who fought at UFC 17 in 1998, posed for photos in the cage with his wife and four children, who all attended one of his fights together for the first time.
"We'll see what happens, but that could have been the last one of my career," Henderson said.
Featherweight contender Max Holloway also won his ninth consecutive fight, decisively beating Ricardo Lamas.