Varner Gets Nod After Illegal Knee, Faber Back in the Mix
Report by Brady Crytzer
Photos by Joe Cordova
World Extreme Cagefighting made its return to California to host its first event of 2009 where lightweight champion Jamie Varner successfully defended his title for the second time against a very tough Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone after being hit with an illegal knee. As Varner could no longer continue, the judges decided the fight giving Varner the split decision victory.
The champion began round one with a very fast pace as he stayed out of the challenger’s range and moved in with quick punches. After tagging Cerrone with a right cross, left hook combination Varner immediately went for the takedown. From inside the guard of the flexible Cerrone, Varner rained down thunderous punches that forced a grotesque swelling on the forehead of the challenger. As the round came to an end Cerrone rose to his feet.
The second round was much more cautious for the champion as he spent most of the stand up phase backing away from the challenger. Varner scored an early takedown and began to work from inside the guard but Cerrone was able to escape. Although Varner repeatedly threw haymakers, few landed and a final takedown by the champion worked against his favor as Cerrone locked in a tight triangle choke. The champion Varner however was saved by the bell.
Varner appeared to back away from the challenger early in the third round. In a flash, Varner rushed ahead with a hard combination of punches that found their mark. The champion took Cerrone to the mat and nearly had a guillotine choke. After getting back to their feet, Varner continued to batter the challenger with hard punches. With Cerrone’s eye beginning to swell, Varner slammed him to the mat to close out the round.
Round four began with a bang as Varner slammed a kick to the head of Cerrone. Amazingly, the champion showed no visible reaction and continued to come forward. Varner scored another quick takedown and Cerrone’s guard became much more defensive. Varner rose to his feet and dragged the tired challenger to the mat once again. Varner remained on top until the round came to an end.
The men embraced to signal the beginning of the final round. The fifth round was unfamiliar territory for both fighters and they were both very tired. In uncharacteristic fashion, “Cowboy” shot in for the takedown and dumped the champion on his back. As Cerrone attempted to stand, he blasted the champion with an illegal knee to the head. Varner was given five minutes to recover, but the champion remained badly disoriented.
Referee Josh Rosenthal would stop the contest due to the damage caused by the knee forcing the judges to decide the fight as the blow was unintentional. The judges awarded Jamie Varner the split decision. Scores are as follows: 49-46 Varner; 48-47 Cerrone; and 49-46 Varner.
Faber Tops Pulver Again
In the WEC rematch of the year, “The California Kid” Urijah Faber used a well rounded attack to submit former UFC lightweight champion in the opening round with a guillotine choke.
Their first meeting was called the biggest fight in WEC history, and after five brutal rounds in June of 2008 Jens Pulver and Urijah Faber did it again Sunday night.
As in their first fight both men came out firing on all cylinders. Despite the heavy hands of Pulver, Faber threw punches in a very aggressive fashion. Pulver, the former UFC world lightweight champion, buckled his younger opponent with a hard knee to the body. Faber used his distinct strength advantage to close the distance and attempt a clinch. After the men gained separation Faber ripped a hard left hook to the liver that doubled Pulver over. The aging legend soon conceded to one knee where Faber locked in a tight guillotine choke. Pulver submitted at 1:34.
Faber expressed interest in facing former conqueror and current featherweight champion Mike Thomas Brown in a rematch. He’ll have to wait however as Brown is set to defend his WEC crown against Leonard Garcia in March.
Villefort TKO’s Campbell
Welterweight Danillo Villefort stopped Mike Campbell in the opening round with hard shots from the back position. The official time was 3:53.
The fighters began by throwing hard punches in the early moments of round one. After a brief respite, Campbell wrestled Villefort to the ground. Showing tremendous strength, Campbell rose to his feet with the nimble Villefort still attached in his guard. Campbell excited the crowd by remaining standing and dropping his opponent hard to the mat. The fighters scrambled on the mat and Villefort began to show his grappling prowess. Although Campbell rose to his feet, the Brazilian quickly threw him to the mat. Once in a dominate position, Villefort took the back of Campbell and unloaded with hard shots until the fight was stopped.
Aldo Emerges as a Top 145’er, Stops Perez in One
The WEC bantamweight division found a new contender as Jose Aldo displayed spectacular stand up skill to knockout Rolando Perez in the opening round with a hard knee to the head.
Aldo, who boasts a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt at the young age of 22, pushed the pace on the feet as he used a long jab to close the distance. Perez appeared weary of the stand up in the opening moments of the round but came to life with a wild flurry. Although the fighters took turns moving forward, Aldo appeared to throw the harder blows including a head kick that shook Perez. Aldo continued to gain confidence by throwing a spinning back kick that pierced the midsection of his opponent. The stand up exchanges continued until Aldo rocked the chin of Perez with a hard knee. Perez fell to his seat and was quickly pounced on by Aldo. The fight was waved off at 4:15.
Welterweight Edgar Garcia blasted former title challenger Hiromitsu Miura in the first round with a wicked left-right combination. Garcia finished Miura by following up with strikes at 1:18 of the first round.
Jesse Lennox continued his welterweight win streak by stopping Blas Avena with a left hook, knee combination just 41 seconds into round two.
Round one saw Avena miss a takedown that allowed Lennox to gain full mount. After Lennox botched an armbar attempt, Avena assumed the top position. Lennox started out very fast in round two and finished Avena with a left hook followed by a hard knee. Referee Josh Rosenthal stopped the contest only 41 seconds intothe round.
Scott Jorgensen wasted no time putting away Frank Gomez as he locked in a tight guillotine choke that finished his opponent at 1:09 of round one. The 5’4 Jorgensen overcame a six inch height advantage to earn the victory.
Featherweight Dominic Cruz was awarded a three round unanimous decision over Ian McCall. All three judges scored the bout the same, 30-27.
Bantamweight veteran Charlie Valencia scored a dominant three round unanimous decision over newcomer Seth Dikun. All three judges scored the bout 30-27.
Benson Henderson used a tight guillotine choke to submit Anthony Njokuani in the second round. The official time was :42 seconds.