Caceres landed his first kick early in the first round at Mandalay Bay, which sent Figueroa rolling across the mat in agony. Referee Herb Dean issued Caceres a "strong warning" after Figueroa signaled he was able to continue.
The rest of the first round was wild, as Figueroa connected with a head kick and nearly finished the fight, but Caceres rallied and went for several submission attempts late in the round.
Midway through the second, Caceres struck again. This time, Dean took the highly unusual step of docking the fighter two points for the infraction as the fight continued.
Figueroa won round three on all three cards. The scores were 28-27 across the board, two for Figueroa and one for Caceres. If there had been a standard one-point deduction, the bout would have been a majority draw, with two 28-28 cards and a 29-27 for Caceres.
"I felt like it was a hard earned paycheck," said Figueroa. "He was a good fighter. I had to dig deep for this one. He came out and landed a few shots early. It was a tough fight but I came out the winner."
The loss was the third in four fights for Caceres, the former "TUF" standout. Figueroa was won two straight.
"Immortal" Brown back on track.
Matt Brown may or may not be "Immortal," as his nickname suggests, but he sure has managed to hang around in the UFC's welterweight division.
Brown has grinded his way through 11 UFC fights since 2008, showing promise, but never quite building enough momentum to break through. But he's hoping to turn the page in 2012 after scoring a knockout victory over Chris Cope at UFC 143 Saturday.
"That's exactly what I need to be doing," said Brown (13-11) "I got away from who I am."
Brown controlled the action in round one against a tentative Cope (5-4), but never got an opening to do serious damage. That changed early in round two, when he feigned a left, followed with a big right hand that connected, then floored Cope with a left hook. He landed a few more shots on the ground before referee Kim Winslow stopped it at 1:19.
The win came as a relief to Brown, who had lost four of his previous five fights. "I've got a right hand to knock out anybody, I hope to see more of that."
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