(Mike Brown — toughest ginger alive. Photo courtesy of MMA Weekly.)
I know we say this almost every time there’s a WEC show — but how insane was that card last night? The main event rematch between featherweight champ Mike Brown and Urijah Faber became the latest Legendary WEC Title Fight, with the two best 145-pounders in the world slugging it out for all 25 minutes. Though every round was close, Brown got the edge from the judges thanks to his consistent takedowns and submission attempts. But who knows what would have happened if Faber didn’t break his right hand in the first round? The California Kid showed a tremendous display of guts in pushing through the pain; instead of punching with the busted paw, Faber switched to standing elbows, which turned out to be surprisingly effective. Still, the champ took everything Faber dished out, and aside from a couple of close guillotine attempts from the hometown hero, Brown steadily pushed the pace, ground down the challenger, and stayed out of trouble.
Faber’s loss may not be enough to drop him from the #2-spot in the featherweight rankings, especially when you take his injury into account. Brown and Faber have become the Federer and Nadal of the WEC — they should just keep fighting every year, no matter what the score is.
Brown’s gritty performance kept the WEC featherweight belt in Coconut Creek, and set him up for a future title defense against Jose Aldo, who earned his title shot last night with an eight-second demolition of Cub Swanson. Aldo did his best Kid Yamamoto impression, throwing a flying knee off the bell that crushed Cub’s left eye into paste. Aldo got in a couple more punches to the downed Swanson before the referee made it over to stop the fight. That makes it five-straight highlight-reel victories for Aldo during his WEC stint. Watch your back, Brown.
The first fight on the televised card turned into an emotional farewell, as Jens Pulver tapped to a guillotine choke against Josh Grispi in just 33 seconds after leaving his neck out in a takedown attempt. Pulver looked devastated following the stoppage, and Grispi didn’t seem to enjoy it much either. In his post-fight interview, Pulver said, "I’m not gonna be that guy to keep saying I’m retiring, but I think I just ended in the same place I started…this has been an incredible run…thank you for making an old man feel good." We’ll see how he feels after the adrenaline wears off, but last night could have been Lil’ Evil’s last stand.
In other action, Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone carved through the outmatched James Krause, sinking on a rear-naked choke at the end of the first round after dropping him with punches. Cerrone will likely have a rematch with lightweight champ Jamie Varner sometime this fall.
$10,000 end-of-night bonuses went to Brown and Faber for their memorable Fight of the Night, Jose Aldo for the KO that Cub Swanson is probably still feeling the day after, and Seth Dikun for his flying triangle victory over Rolando Perez that kicked off the undercard. The show brought 13,027 fans to Sacramento’s Arco Arena for a live gate of $818,415 — both records for the WEC. And I hope you followed my betting advice, because the shit was flawless. Full results from the event are below.
- Mike Brown def. Urijah Faber via unanimous decision (49-46 x 2, 48-47)
- Jose Aldo def. Cub Swanson via TKO (strikes), 0:08 of round 1
- Donald Cerrone def. James Krause via submission (rear-naked choke), 4:38 of round 1
- Josh Grispi def. Jens Pulver via submission (guillotine choke), 0:33 of round 1
- Manny Gamburyan def. John Franchi via unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)
- Rafael Rebello def. Kyle Dietz via submission (rear-naked choke), 2:55 of round 1
- Anthony Pettis def. Mike Campbell via submission (triangle choke), 1:49 of round 1
- Antonio Banuelos def. Scott Jorgensen via split decision (29-28 x 2, 28-29)
- Frank Gomez def. Noah Thomas via submission (arm-triangle choke), 3:12 of round 2
- Seth Dikun def. Rolando Perez via submission (triangle choke), 2:30 of round 1