UFC Denver Results: After Thrilling War, Yair Rodriguez Unleashes Elbow For Last Second Finish of Korean Zombie

Korean Zombie and Yair Rodriguez, UFC Denver
Korean Zombie vs. Yair Rodriguez Credit: Mike Straus/Cageside Press

Saturday night’s main event at UFC Denver turned out to be an all-time classic, Fight of the Year contender, as The Korean Zombie and Yair Rodriguez battled in a bloody war, with Rodriguez earning a last-second finish in the five round war.

The main event at UFC Denver had lost Frankie Edgar, but it added some flair in the form for Yair Rodriguez. That created a very different fight for The Korean Zombie on Saturday night, at the UFC’s 25th anniversary show. It had already been a historic evening, with Cowboy Cerrone setting the record for most wins in the UFC during the co-main event.

Rodriguez opened the action with a low kick, that saw Zombie stumble, his leg seeming to buckle slightly. Yair would go back to his kicks, until Zombie pressed forward, throwing hooks and forcing Yair Rodriguez to retreat. Rodriguez then landed , only for Zombie to come back, unloading a combo, then blow after blow as Rodriguez covered up. He’d weather the storm, but not before a string of uppercuts for The Korean Zombie. Still, after that barrage, Rodriguez again attacked the legs of his opponent. Rodriguez was also able to land jabs off the kicking attacks of Zombie, who was taking something of an unorthodox approach to leg strikes. Zombie then clipped Rodriguez, and charged in, but Rodriguez escaped. ‘Zombie chants,’ at that point, had broken out.

Round two saw the action continue, until a low blow in the form of a knee landed on The Korean Zombie. He took just a few moment,s then the action resumed, with Zombie launching a kick to the body. Rodriguez answered with a head kick that was blocked, but still hard. Zombie’s jab hit home. Then, charging forward, Rodriguez spun and landed a spinning back elbow with a crash. Zombie, however, ate it, and continued to move forward. Later in the frame, Rodriguez would launch a flying knee that missed. Both men would connect with heavy blows. Zombie would not stop moving forward, but he was cut. They went to a third.

In round three Rodriguez flashing a cartwheel kick early, but was off the mark. Zombie landed a leg kick, fired a jab. He was able to split Rodriguez’s defenses, then briefly caught a kick, only to but hit hard by a body kick. Still Zombie pressed forward. Both men had taken significant punishment. Zombie landed, rocking Rodriguez just a little. He chased after him, but Rodriguez escaped. Another flurry followed, Zombie catching a kick, leading to a scramble, an exchange, and Rodriguez landing. Towards the end of the round, Rodriguez tried a rolling heel kick. Three rounds in the books, and the UFC Denver main event had delivered.

The fourth saw a combo from Zombie, and a spinning back fist from Yair Rodriguez in the first ninety seconds. Rodriguez then attacked and caught Zombie off balance, who slipped as he retreated. He escaped. Both men were bloodied. Zombie, for the first time in teh fight, was backing up. Yet he was still throwing, still landed, and pushed forward again. Zombie then clipped Yair with a right, and the Korean rushed in! Rodriguez answered with a knee, however, and Zombie clung to him. The ref then apparently missed a low blow on Rodriguez, but Zombie backed off momentarily in a show of sportsmanship. Zombie landed again. Rodriguez tried for a rolling leg attack, but Zombie pulled free. The Korean Zombie landed a jab to end the round, and they’d head to a fifth.

Zombie opened the fifth and final round with a right hand. He’d counter Rodriguez’s jab moments later. Rodriguez shot for a takedown at the midway mark, but Zombie shook it off. Rodriguez landed clean, and the pair actually took a moment with two minutes left to celebrate a great fight. Then went back to work. Rodriguez fired a high kick. Zombie landed a blow that buckled his opponent’s knees. Rodriguez still had a spinning back fist in him. They celebrated again with just over ten seconds remaining. Moved in for one final exchange. And then, the unthinkable: throwing an elbow out of desperation while ducking a punch, Rodriguez caught Zombie, and sent him crashing to the mat!

It was a Fight of the Year candidate, an all-time classic, and the perfect finish to the UFC’s 25th anniversary show. With the late comeback, Rodrigeuz tied the record for latest UFC finish (with Mighty Mouse). Despite the scary finish, Zombie was able to walk to the back, though both men will be healing up for a while. In the end, however, the main event at UFC Denver was a reminder to fans of why MMA is such an exciting sport.

Yair Rodriguez def. Chan Sung Jung by knockout, Round 5, 4:59