Don’t know about y’all, but I’m still reeling from the collective awesomeness of last night’s WEC event. All six televised fights ended by stoppage within the first two rounds, all three defending champions retained their titles, and Jens Pulver choked out poor Cub Swanson in 35 seconds. If you decided instead to watch the three-hour UFC Unleashed special that was running on Spike opposite WEC 31, you are a dumb jackass.
Aside from a few opening stutters by co-commentator Frank Mir, the night was rocket-powered from the jump. Up first was light-heavyweight champion Doug Marshall facing off against Ariel Gandulla. Marshall tried to strike first with a flying knee, but Gandulla caught him in mid-air and slammed him to the mat. Gandulla then tried to work some ground-and-pound from Marshall’s guard, but was caught in an armbar by the more-experienced champ and was forced to tap at the 55 second mark. Ecstatic, Marshall jumped out of the cage, let out a battle roar on the judges’ table, and made his way into the crowd, visibly freaking out a portly audience member. Like I said: Awesome.
Next up were bantamweights Charlie Valencia and Ian McCall. There are few joys in life a pure as watching two 135-pound men beat the crap out of each other. Valencia exploited McCall’s weak defense from the beginning, landing a couple of strong right hands before a third power-punch sent McCall to the floor. Valencia took his back and suplexed him, but McCall was able to get back on his feet. He wouldn’t stay upright for long — Valencia battered him with more punches until McCall dropped again, after which Valencia set up a guillotine choke on the mat that made McCall tap at 3:19 into the first round.
The middleweight title match between Paulo Filho and Chael Sonnen could have easily been the biggest upset since St. Pierre/Serra if it hadn’t ended in a very controversial stoppage. Everyone assumed that Filho — thought by many to be the best middleweight in the world — would crush Sonnen, a full-time real estate agent who trains in his free time. But it was Sonnen who fought like a champion, dominating Filho for nearly two full rounds, out-boxing the undefeated Brazilian and dominating him on the ground. After one huge punch and takedown, Sonnen shouted “He’s out!” to the referee, but the fight was allowed to continue. Filho had no answer for Sonnen’s attacks, and his submission attempts were all stuffed. Then, while on his back late in the second round, Filho locked onto Sonnen’s left arm and pulled down into an armbar. It certainly looked painful, and the referee must have thought so too because he stopped the fight with only five seconds left in the round, and before Sonnen tapped out. Sonnen was furious, and shouted “No, no, no!” at the ref, but the decision had been made, and Filho picked up a very undeserved win. To add even more insult to Sonnen, his loss was recorded as a “verbal submission.” Oh man, that’s exactly the opposite of what happened!