(Photo courtesy of MMA Weekly.)
Three months after Benson Henderson squeaked past Donald Cerrone in a grueling (and controversial) five-rounder at WEC 43, and a year after Jamie Varner defended his lightweight title in his own contentious battle against Cowboy, the WEC’s top two lightweights met last night at the ARCO Arena in Sacramento to determine an undisputed 155-pound ruler — and this time, the scorecards would not be necessary.
Henderson’s inhuman ability to resist submission holds served him well in WEC 46′s main event. The first round saw Varner latch on a tight guillotine against the fence after slamming Henderson to the mat, but "Smooth" stayed calm and escaped. Except for one strange moment when Varner wandered away with his back turned after taking a body kick — apparently looking for a pause in the action, which he didn’t receive — Varner seemed to have the edge early on. The second round was an evenly-pitched striking battle, with both fighters testing out their kicks; Henderson looked comfortable against the champ, but wasn’t pushing the pace.
In the end, Henderson’s reactive style turned out to be the perfect strategy. Midway through the third round, Varner shot in for a double-leg takedown, and Smooth countered with a flying guillotine that made Varner tap almost immediately, earning him the WEC’s unified lightweight title. Varner wasn’t exactly gracious in defeat: "S*** happens. I was winning the fight, all he was doing was throwing body kicks. I got the takedowns, had the control…go ahead and boo. I came to fight, Ben came to grapple. Two different things." Christ, what a bitch.
The card also featured two former featherweight champions bouncing back to the win column in impressive fashion. First up was Mike Brown, who faced off against Anthony Morrison in a tune-up match less than two months after losing his title to Jose Aldo. Morrison came out aggressively, throwing some nasty-looking kicks, but it wasn’t long before Brown took Morrison down from a clinch, scored mount after briefly controlling him from a crucifix position, then sunk in a rear-naked choke that made Morrison tap at the 1:54 mark.
In the night’s co-headliner, Urijah Faber made his first appearance since his decision loss to Mike Brown last June — a fight in which broke his right hand and dislocated his left — facing off against top-ten ranked BJJ specialist Raphael Assuncao. Assuncao showed his toughness in the first frame, stifling Faber in the clinch and staying competitive in the striking exchanges. But the California kid turned it on in round two, threatening Assuncao with a tight guillotine choke and dropping him with a right hand. Faber put Assuncao on his ass again in the third with another right hand, and expertly took his back on the ground, finishing with a rear-naked choke.
Following the match, Jose Aldo entered the cage to create some heat for a future showdown with the ex-champ. Aldo said he respects Faber, but "there’s no way you’re getting my belt." Faber replied that he feels the belt already belongs to him. WEC general manager Reed Harris later confirmed that Faber would indeed get the next shot at Aldo’s 145-pound title, and their fight could headline the WEC’s first pay-per-view event; no venue or date has been set yet.
Faber picked up an extra $10,000 for WEC 46′s Submission of the Night, while Will Campuzano and Coty Wheeler picked up $10,000 Fight of the Night bonuses for their unaired preliminary card three-rounder, which was awesome, apparently. Full results from WEC 46 are below…
– Benson Henderson def. Jamie Varner via submission (guillotine choke), 2:41 of round 3
– Urijah Faber def. Raphael Assuncao via submission (rear naked choke), 3:49 of round 3
– Kamal Shalorus def. Dave Jansen via unanimous decision (30-27 x 2, 29-28)
– Mike Brown def. Anthony Morrison via submission (rear naked choke), 1:54 of round 1
– Deividas Taurosevicius def. Mackens Semerzier via unanimous decision (29-28 x 3)
– Charlie Valencia def. Akitoshi Tamura via split decision (29-28 x 2, 28-29)
– Wagnney Fabiano def. Clint Godfrey via unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)
– Mark Hominick def. Bryan Caraway via submission (armbar), 3:48 of round 1
– Eddie Wineland def. George Roop via unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)
– Will Campuzano def. Coty Wheeler via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27 x 2)