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UFC 143: Rafael Natal Vs. Michael Kuiper

The following is from our live coverage of UFC 143: Diaz vs. Condit. To access our full coverage, click here.

Round 1: Kuiper takes the center of the cage, working leg kicks. Natal quickly hits a trip and briefly takes mount, but Kuiper gets to his feet immediately and avoids a takedown, pressing Natal into the cage and working knees to the thigh. Natal separates, runs away and resets. Kuiper defends a takedown. Natal hits a power double that disrupts the video monitor when they hit the cage. Kuiper active from his back, looking to attack rather than get to his feet this time. Kuiper wall-walks to his feet, but Natal keeps the body lock and threatens to take him back down. Kuiper defends; Natal is relentless and continues to drive for it, eventually getting him down against the cage. Kuiper gets to his feet before too long, turning Natal into the fence. Natal quickly takes him back down, but Kuiper eventually reverses him and works from guard. Natal looks to work a triangle, then an armbar, but Kuiper defends and drops a hammer fist on him. They end the round on their feet.

FightLine scores the round 10-9 for Natal

Round 2: Natal tries a high kick to start. Natal’s relentlessness won him the last round, but Kuiper showed great defense and great all-around skills. Kuiper slipping Natal’s heavier, telegraphed punches and returning with solid counters. Natal fails on a takedown. Kuiper defends another takedown and tags Natal up against the fence. Kuiper is repeatedly stuffing Natal’s increasingly weaker takedown attempts to fire back with hard punches. Natal is digging in and throwing hard shots back though, cracking Kuiper more than once with hard rights that somehow seem to have no affect. Natal is denied on another takedown; he presses Kuiper into the fence and tries again, but Kuiper defends and backs him off. Natal looking tired, telegraphing an overhand right. Kuiper sends a nice right hand down the pipe. Kuiper walking forward, but Natal is starting to score more on the feet now; he’s pushing most of his punches and they don’t seem to be hurting Kuiper, but they are keeping him from putting together his own offense. Natal with a takedown with twenty seconds left.

FightLine scores the round 10-9 for Natal

Round 3: Kuiper drops Natal with a right hand shovel punch right off the bat. Natal goes for a desperation takedown, but Kuiper defends and takes top position. Kuiper is wailing on Natal against the fence while the Brazilian tries to sweep from half guard. Natal hanging in there, but Kuiper is beating him down here. Natal absorbs a cracking right hand. Impressive showing of fortitude by Natal. Natal breaking down his posture now and looking to work a high guard, but Kuiper defends. Natal rolls out and goes in for the takedown with 2:30 left. Natal gets Kuiper down; Kuiper gets up, but Natal picks him up and takes him for a ride, dumping him in the center of the cage and taking side control. Natal looks to have recovered and is now taking the fight to a tiring Kuiper. Natal passes to full mount. Natal sets up the arm triangle and passes to the opposite side. It looks tight, but Kuiper is defending well. Twenty seconds to go. Ten to go and it looks Kuiper will ride it out. He does.

FightLine scores the round 10-9 for Kuiper

Big display of heart by Natal in the last round and Kuiper had a nice showing as well.

Rafael Natal defeated Michael Kuiper via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)