Joseph Benavidez (file photo) outpointed Eddie Wineland at UFC Live 5. | Photo:

Team Alpha Male’s Joseph Benavidez leaned on his blinding speed, superior clinch work and beautiful punching combinations, as he defeated former WEC bantamweight champion Eddie Wineland by unanimous decision at UFC Live 5 “Hardy vs. Lytle” on Sunday at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.

All three judges scored it 30-27 for Benavidez, who beefed up an already stellar resume with a key victory over another respected veteran. No doubt positioning himself for a third crack at the only man to beat him, UFC bantamweight titleholder Dominick Cruz, the 27-year-old San Antonio native has pieced together a string of three consecutive wins.

Benavidez (15-2, 2-0 UFC) set the tone from the start, as he bloodied Wineland’s nose and opened a cut near his hairline with quick, accurate strikes. Leg kicks and front kicks kept Wineland at distance and allowed Benavidez to use his speed and superior skill to a greater affect. However, he had to survive a significant scare in round two after an encounter with Wineland’s right cross left him covering up against the cage. Benavidez fought his way out of trouble, delivering hearty knees from the clinch and securing a late takedown.

Wineland (18-8-1, 0-2 UFC) had little left to offer in the third round, as Benavidez backed up his opponent with a pair of right hooks and an overhand right. Perhaps sensing his time was short, Wineland cut loose with a late flurry but could not find the mark with his hands. He has suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time since 2004.

Jared Hamman stopped “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 7 finalist C.B. Dollaway with second-round ground-and-pound in a preliminary middleweight tilt. Their encounter came to a decisive conclusion 3:38 into round two, as Hamman (13-3, 2-2 UFC), a former light heavyweight, made a successful transition to the 185-pound division.

An NCAA All-American wrestler at Arizona State University, Dollaway (11-4, 5-4 UFC) controlled much of the opening frame with his base skill, as he took it to the mat, briefly cinched an arm-triangle choke and eventually mounted the EliteXC veteran. Hamman later returned the favor, as he secured a takedown of his own and moved to the mounted position. Dollaway escaped and blasted the 29-year-old Atascadero, Calif., native with a pair of right hands that appeared to seal the first round in his favor.

Hamman roared out of his corner a man possessed in round two, as he blitzed Dollaway with frenzied punches and planted him on his backside against the cage with a mean right uppercut. More blows softened up Dollaway and allowed Hamman to catch a topside crucifix. He ultimately shifted to mount, the tide of the fight irrevocably turned. A barrage of unanswered punches polished off Dollaway, as referee Herb Dean stepped in on his behalf.

Ed Herman File Photo

Herman tapped Noke out in round one.

“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 finalist Ed Herman recorded his second stoppage in as many outings, as he submitted EliteXC veteran Kyle Noke with a first-round heel hook in a preliminary middleweight matchup. His leg contorted at a gruesome angle, Noke asked out of the fight 4:15 into round one. With that, the Aussie’s five-fight winning streak became a thing of the past.

Noke struck for a quick takedown, attacked Herman (22-9, 6-5 UFC) with elbows from inside his guard and avoided a number of attempted submissions. However, the experienced Herman made his getaway as Noke (19-5-1, 3-1 UFC) tried to mount, trapped his left foot and wrenched the deal-sealing heel hook with less than a minute left in the first frame.

Herman, 30, has posted back-to-back wins since returning from two reconstructive knee surgeries. A former bodyguard for the late Steve “The Crocodile Hunter” Irwin, Noke had not been submitted in nearly
eight years.

Promising Brazilian prospect Ronny Markes made the most of his opportunity to replace the injured Stephan Bonnar, as he dominated fellow light heavyweight Karlos Vemola for three rounds en route to a one-sided unanimous verdict in his promotional debut. Markes (12-1, 1-0 UFC) swept the scorecards by matching 30-27 counts and will carry a five-fight winning streak into his next appearance.

Takedowns, positional control and effective ground-and-pound paved the way to victory for the 23-year-old Markes. He planted Vemola (8-2, 1-2 UFC) on the canvas in all three rounds, sapping the Czech’s gas tank. Frames two and three were particularly lopsided in Markes’ favor, as he threatened his fading foe with an arm-triangle choke and pummeled him with knees to the body and punches and elbows to the head.

Undefeated featherweight prospect Jim Hettes submitted “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 quarterfinalist Alex Caceres with a second-round rear-naked choke in a 145-pound dark match. Hettes (9-0, 1-0 UFC) finished a frenetic back-and-forth encounter 3:12 into round two.

Caceres (5-5, 0-2 UFC) gained a quick upper hand on his short-notice opponent, as the two featherweights went at it, trading strikes and submission attempts throughout the first five minutes. Hettes found his niche in the second round, as he scored with a pair of judo throws and attacked with a variety of submissions: an arm-triangle choke, a guillotine choke and a triangle armbar among them. He later snatched a standing rear-naked choke, drove Caceres to the floor and finished it there.

Hettes, 24, a late injury replacement for former WEC featherweight title contender Leonard Garcia, has submitted all nine of his professional opponents.

Cole Miller File Photo

Miller was too much for O'Brien.

American Top Team’s Cole Miller submitted former two-division Midwest Cage Championships titleholder T.J. O'Brien with a second-round guillotine choke in a preliminary lightweight duel. O’Brien raised the white flag of surrender 2:38 into round two.

The two men spent an even first round engaged entirely on the feet. Miller (18-5, 7-3 UFC) upped his aggression in the second, as he floored O’Brien with a straight left hand and attacked the legs of his downed opponent with kicks. As O’Brien (16-5, 0-2 UFC) attempted to return to his feet, Miller cinched the guillotine, trapped him in full guard and rolled into top position, where he finished the submission with one arm.

Miller, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, has posted three wins in his past four outings.

A steady diet of takedowns, choke attempts and occasional ground-and-pound carried Jacob Volkmann to a unanimous decision victory over Team Alpha Male representative Danny Castillo in a lightweight dark match. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28 for Volkmann (13-2, 4-2 UFC), who has quietly rattled off four consecutive victories.

Volkmann, a three-time NCAA All-American at the University of Minnesota, was the aggressor throughout the 15-minute encounter. He scored with takedowns in all three rounds, neutralized Castillo’s advantage on the feet and threatened the WEC import with a series of attempted brabo chokes. Though none were successful, they kept Castillo (11-4, 1-1 UFC) on his heels and away from meaningful offense.

The once-beaten Edwin Figueroa had no trouble with Jason Reinhardt, as he stopped the 41-year-old journeyman on second-round punches in a preliminary bantamweight bout. Reinhardt (20-3, 0-3 UFC) met his end 50 seconds into round two.

Figueroa (8-1, 1-1 UFC) made up for an uneventful start between the two, as he planted Reinhardt on his behind with a two-punch combination and eventually threatened with a standing guillotine choke in the first round. The 27-year-old former King of Kombat bantamweight champion only tightened his grip on the match from there. Reinhardt later pulled guard, only to be met with a barrage of punches from overhead. A dozen or more of them pelted his body and head, and the Wand Fight Team representative was slow to his feet when the round ended.

With figurative blood in the water, Figueroa picked up where he left off in the second period. He mounted the fading Reinhardt, dropped elbows, forced his opponent to his stomach and brought forth the stoppage with another volley of unanswered blows.

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