(Quick prediction: Dominick Cruz will win his fight via DQ [eye-pokes/mohawk]. Photos courtesy of the WEC 53 Weigh In Pics gallery on CombatLifestyle.com)
Well folks, the next time you see these guys, they’ll be wearing UFC gloves, slugging it out in a slightly-larger cage and picking up every Fight of the Night bonus they can get their slightly-smaller hands on. Tonight, the WEC says farewell with two title fights and their usual assortment of relentless scrappers. Round-by-round updates from the Versus broadcast will be accumulating after the jump beginning at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. Refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest.
Only in MMA can you have a color-commentator who consistently has bruises on his face. I hope Stephan Bonnar can keep his mic-spot for at least the ‘UFC on Versus’ events. His enthusiasm is just…infectious. I know we didn’t really talk about this event too much before today, but these title fights are going to be beyond nasty. Fantastic matchups.
Kamal Shalorus vs. Bart Palaszewski
Bart has an exclamation point *and* a question mark shaved into his hair. That’s called an interrobang, homey! Google it! Uh oh, unfamiliar foreign ref…
Round 1: Kamal moves forward and gets kicked in the body. Kamal stalks back in and lands a jab. Bart attacks and Kamal flips him to the mat, landing in Bart’s guard. Kamal with some vicious punches to the body. He mixes in an elbow to the head. Bart looking for an armbar, and Kamal stands and escapes. Kamal re-engages and throws down some hard punches from a standing position. Kamal gets back in Bart’s guard and scores with more punches to the head. He stands up and tries to shove Bart’s legs away. Bart is warned for grabbing the fence. Bart gets to his feet and Kamal fires some leather at him. Leg kick Bart. And again. And another. Kamal finally answers with some hard leg kicks of his own. Bart with more kicks. Kamal with two inside leg kicks to end the round. 10-9 Shalorus.
Round 2: Kamal immediately lands a leg kick. He goes to the head. Bart jabbing and gets a body kick caught. They trade leg kicks. Kamal lands a looping left. He throws the fastball punch and whiffs. Hard inside leg kick from Kamal, Bart responds with a glancing head kick. Kamal shoots, Bart defends it against the cage. Bart with another high kick. Kamal with another inside leg kick. He shoots for a single and dumps Bart on his back. Kamal with shots to the body. The crowd boos, rather unfairly. Kamal lands some hard punches as Bart gets to his feet. But Bart says bring it on just before he’s knocked to the ground. Bart gets up and fires a high kick just as the round ends. 10-9 Shalorus.
Round 3: Kamal opens with an inside leg kick. Kamal dashes forward and lands a pair of straight punches. And he does it again. Bart with a leg kick. Kamal shoots and dumps Bart against the cage, but Bart gets up and drives a knee to Kamal’s face. Bart jabbing. 1-2. He lands the head kick again. They trade punches. Kamal tries to shoot and is rebuffed. Kamal grabs a single-leg and twists Bart to the mat. Kamal with punches before moving to half guard. Bart with elbows off his back. Kamal with an elbow to Bart’s dome. And another. Bart rolls out and gets to his feet. Bart lands a knee and a high kick, then a hook but Kamal stays on his feet. Kamal eats a big knee trying to shoot in. Bart on the attack with punches, Kamal retreating, possibly dazed. That’s the fight. Bart steals the round 10-9.
Shalorus def. Palaszewski via split decision. 30-27 Shalorus, 29-28 Palaszewski, 29-28 Shalorus. Judge Doc Hamilton with the dissenting opinion. Shalorus admits to gassing a bit in the second round, and promises the tough crowd that he’ll bring them an exciting fight next time. I thought it was alright.
Donald Cerrone vs. Chris Horodecki
Round 1: Cerrone with a jab, Horodecki returns a head kick. Cerrone with a body knee. Horodecki takes a kick to the balls that was supposed to be an inside leg kick. The action is paused. Horodecki fires some shots when he comes back in, but he’s having trouble with the range. Cerrone scores a takedown and gets to side control, but botches a jump to mount, and Horodecki escapes to his feet. They clinch up and trade knees. Horocdecki with a 1-2 to the body. Cerrone catches Horodecki with a knee when Horodecki rushes in. Cerrone lands the jab. Horodecki jabs and hooks to the body. He seems to have given up on reaching Cowboy’s head. Horodecki with a spinning back kick. Horodecki shoots and takes Cerrone down, but Cerrone pops up, throws a high kick. Horodecki grabs it and tosses Cerrone back down. Cerrone to his feet. Cerrone puts the fight on the ground again and Cerrone works his guard for a bit before they’re back up. Cerrone with another takedown, and he takes Horodecki’s back as the round ends.
Round 2: Inside leg kick Horodecki. Horodecki goes high with it. Horodecki shoots in and Cerrone sets up an omoplata immediately. Cerrone cranking the neck, then sets up a triangle when Horodecki tries to escape. That thing looks very, very tight. Horodecki managing to hang on, somehow. Cerrone adds an elbow. And finally, after what seems like two full minutes in a fully-sunk triangle choke, Horodecki taps.
Cerrone def. Horodecki via submission (triangle choke), 2:43 of round 2. And again, a lot of the fans are booing. Some Jamie Varner fans in the crowd? (Jamie Varner has fans?) Cerrone calls out Cole Miller, who previously beat his homeboy Leonard Garcia.
Dominick Cruz vs. Scott Jorgensen (for bantamweight title)
Round 1: Cruz divebombs in with a body/head/body combo. He blasts a kick and springs in with a punch. Jorgensen swings at air. Cruz with a hit and run. Dude is doing what he does best, and Jorgensen has no answer so far. Cruz lands a dead-on straight before skating off. Jorgensen shoots in and clinches on Cruz’s back, but Cruz escapes. Cruz whiffs a big uppercut, but lands the follow-up strikes. Nice leg kick and jab from Cruz. Another leg kick and a body kick. Jorgensen counters with a left as Cruz runs in. They trade shots. Good uppercut from Cruz, and a leg kick. Jorgensen shoots in, gets Cruz down and looks for the back, but Cruz reverses it and gets on top as the round ends. Cruz opens the match with an easy 10-9.
Round 2: Cruz with a high kick. Cruz zombie-walks from side to side. He sneaks in a leg kick, a jab. Looping left from Cruz. Cruz lands a punch and takes Jorgensen down. Cruz in Jorgensen’s guard, abusing him with punches and elbows from the top. Jorgensen wriggles back to the fence, trying to find a way back to his feet. They both slug each other on the mat. Cruz chopping down some elbows. Then a series of punches, which the crowd boos, because they’re morons. Fucking Glendale. Cruz with a beautiful flying knee when Jorgensen is back up, followed by punches and a takedown attempt. Jorgensen breaks free, but can’t do much in the round’s closing seconds. 10-9 Cruz.
Round 3: Jorgensen’s mohawk is wilted. He comes out jabbing, but gets caught with a counter right and hits the mat. Jorgensen pops back up, and Cruz lands a 1-2-low kick. Then a flush high kick. And a hard leg kick. Jorgensen with a kick to the hip. Cruz with a dashing right hand. And a hook. Jorgensen misses about four punches consecutively, then gets popped in the face with a jab. Cruz blasts Jorgensen with a knee to the body. Cruz slugs some hooks. Cruz attacking the legs again. And a jab. Cruz shoots in from a distance and still manages to put Jorgensen on his back. Cruz in Jorgensen’s guard. Jorgensen flips Cruz and they both get to their feet. Knee from Jorgensen in the clinch. Cruz breaks away and hops in the air as the round ends. That’s 3-0 for the champ. Jorgensen needs a miracle-stoppage in the next ten minutes.
Round 4: Cruz with a huge right hand. And some backpedaling jabs before he takes Jorgensen down again. Jorgensen with an elbow off his back. Cruz in guard, which is the crowd’s signal to start booing. Cruz throws down some left hands. Then some rights. Jorgensen finds an exit and gets to his feet. Jorgensen chasing forward with punches, before clinching with Cruz on the fence. Cruz turns him around and gets in a knee before separating. Another flying knee from Cruz. Cruz grabs on and takes Jorgensen down again. Jorgensen rolls to his knees and gets up. Hard body kick from Cruz, followed by a right. Leg kick Cruz. Cruz brilliantly slips Jorgensen’s punches. Cruz again shoots in from a mile out but manages to convert the takedown. This is an utter ass-handling. Another 10-9 for Cruz.
Round 5: Cruz with another right to open the round. Stick and move. Flow and go. A right hook to Jorgensen’s ear. Inside leg kick from Cruz, and a left hook. Cruz dancing around, potshotting jabs. Body kick from Cruz. Jorgensen grabs on and takes Cruz down, but Cruz gets up. Cruz evens the score with another long takedown. Cruz in Jorgensen’s guard, taking a little break, throwing punches here and there. Jorgensen pops to his side, looking to end the fight on his feet. He does get up and Cruz goes to boxing and swarming, throwing a flying knee and an uppercut at the bell. Pure domination. He stares down Urijah Faber outside the fence. You wanna do this? At this point, a rematch at 135 pounds doesn’t seem like a very good idea for Faber.
He’s not really a finisher, but Dominick Cruz is quickly becoming one of my favorite fighters to watch. His funky footwork and striking, wrestling, cardio…who can fuck with this dude? He’s up pretty high in the P4P conversation, if you ask me.
All three judges score it 50-45 for Cruz, who is the UFC’s first ever 135-pound champion. Cruz talks about how people will start believing in him now, and the crowd boos appropriately. Cruz wants Urijah Faber in Sacramento. Can’t wait to see it.
Ben Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis
Round 1: Henderson throws a flying double kick after a feeling out period. Pettis returns a jumping roundhouse of his own. Pettis backs Henderson up with a right. Henderson with a hard leg kick, followed by a right hand, before clinching with Pettis and kneeing him against the cage. Henderson with a knee to the head in the clinch. Pettis tries to break out and Henderson puts him down against the cage. Henderson with some punches to the ribs. Pettis looks for an armbar, then pushes Henderson away and stands. Pettis misses a big high kick. Nice push kick from Pettis. Henderson throws a superman punch, but gets stuck with a counter. Henderson shoots and gets Pettis to the mat. Pettis lands an upkick as the round ends. I’d give it to Smooth, 10-9.
Round 2: Sharp body kick from Henderson. Pettis drops Henderson with a right. Henderson pops up, but Pettis takes his back, and kicks him in the face. Yes, from Henderson’s back. Pettis slams Henderson down but Henderson recovers, stands and gets in a couple knees in the clinch. They separate. Henderson dashes in with body shots and shoots in. They clinch against the fence. Henderson with knees to the legs. Pettis gets out. Henderson with a fast 1-2. Nice body kick from Henderson. Pettis responds with a flying knee, but Henderson grabs him up and gets in a knee. Henderson gets tapped in the nuts, but shakes it off. They trade kicks. Pettis goes high. Close round.
Round 3: Henderson with a long range leg kick. Henderson with a body kick, Pettis to the leg. Henderson with a right hook over the top. Pettis scoops up Henderson and puts him on the mat. Pettis takes Henderson’s back and Henderson stands, defending. Pettis now hanging off the champ, putting some punches to the side of Henderson’s head. Pettis slugs the ribs, still riding Henderson with a body triangle sunk. Pettis with shots to Bendo’s dome. Pettis sneaks in an arm under Henderson’s chin, but Henderson doing a good job of defending. Henderson starts throwing elbows directly into Pettis’s thighs. He finally gets the dude off of him as the round ends, but I’d give it to Pettis for threatening him for the majority of the round.
Round 4: Pettis lands the counter. Henderson slugs Pettis with a kick to the body. Pettis attacks with punches, Henderson gives it back. Henderson shoots into a guillotine, but spins out and transitions on top of Pettis. He takes Pettis’s back. Payback time, bitch. Henderson sinks the body triangle, then the rear naked. But Pettis somehow defends and tries to roll away. Henderson sticks on him. Pettis jerks around and gets on top of Henderson. Henderson rolls and gives up his back. Pettis on him like a backpack as Henderson stands. Henderson shakes him off and they’re back standing again. Another hard body kick from Henderson, but Pettis returns a right straight. Knee from Henderson. Pettis lands a hard left, and Henderson shoots. He takes Pettis down, but Pettis threatens with a guillotine. He closes guard and cranks it, but Ben Henderson won’t be tapped, and survives to the horn. The last round might decide this fight.
Round 5: Pettis fires the overhand right. Henderson slips throwing some punches. Hard inside leg kick from Pettis, and it catches Henderson in the balls. Again, he goes back in without much of a break. Henderson with a clean head kick and a body kick, but Pettis responds with a right straight that pops Henderson’s head back. Pettis pressing forward. Henderson lands a long straight to the body, then trips over himself and falls to the mat. Pettis jumps on his back briefly. When they separate, Henderson shoots directly into a flying knee, yet remains conscious. The chins on these WEC guys, Jesus Christ. Henderson keeps his composure and takes Pettis down, then moves to his back. Henderson with some heel kicks to Pettis’s body. Pettis rolls him off and stands. Pettis springs off the cage and knocks Henderson down with a face-kick. SICKEST KICK EVER LANDED BY ANYBODY, EVER. Pettis jumps on Henderson on the ground, who is clearly hurt this time. Henderson muscles up and tries to slam Pettis as the round ends. Good God. Great fight, and Pettis deserves to win this on points.
"Move of the century in all of MMA," says Todd Harris of The Kick. And that’s an understatement, if anything.
The scores: 48-47, 48-47, 49-46 all for Anthony Pettis, new WEC lightweight champion, and official #1 contender of the UFC. Pettis gives it up for his trainer Duke Roufus, and says they practice that kick all the time in practice. Henderson is bummed, but still gives it up for his Lord and Savior. Anyway, it’s time for me to sign off, but you couldn’t have asked for a more perfect moment to end the WEC’s epic run.