Henderson edges Cerrone for interim title
Report by Brady Crytzer
Photos courtesy of Josh Hedges, UFC
In a fight that redefined the concept of “all action,” Ben “Smooth” Henderson defeated Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone via unanimous after five furious rounds to become the WEC interim lightweight champion.
Originally slated to meet in Youngstown, Ohio, the hometown of world middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, in September, Donald Cerrone and Ben Henderson finally showed down in San Antonio, Texas in the main event of Saturday night’s World Extreme Cagefighting card.
With the current WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner sidelined by severe hand injuries, Cerrone and Henderson battled for the interim lightweight title with the winner lined up to meet the aforementioned Varner in 2010.
Cerrone, known for his high pace, made the first mistake as he lost his footing following an off target headkick. Henderson wasted no time attempting to capitalize when he shot for a takedown at the prone Cerrone. From his back “Cowboy” attempting three submissions in rapid succession including a guillotine, triangle choke, and armbar.
Although none of the holds could force the tap, Cerrone was still anxious to throw leather when the fight moved back to the feet. Henderson, who appeared to be faster, quickly took his opponent to the mat and rained down hard punches from the standing position.
Round two began with a blistering pace as Henderson took Cerrone down with a slick tripping takedown. Following a scramble, Cerrone took the back of his opponent but failed to retain the position. Although he lost the back, he transitioned nicely to an armbar which Henderson defended perfectly. Standing again above Cerrone, Henderson dropped hard punches into the face of the former title challenger.
Again Henderson began round three with a takedown and Cerrone found himself on his back. It was then for the first time in the fight however Henderson managed to take the back of Cerrone, but only briefly. The men worked to the feet and began to brawl as the round came to an end.
The fourth round saw Cerrone catch Henderson in a tight d’arce choke immediately. As Cerrone adjusted his body the choke began to constrict the neck of Henderson with brutal efficiency. Shockingly, Henderson exploded out of the hold and the stand up war commenced. In an effort to close the distance Henderson attacked the legs of his opponent and drove him into the cage. Cerrone displayed solid defense as Henderson attempted in vain to take “Cowboy” to the mat. At the bell Cerrone launched a leg kick that put Henderson on his seat.
The two surprisingly fresh fighters embraced in a show of sportsmanship to begin the fifth and final round. With the momentum in his favor Cerrone blasted Henderson with a left hook that floored him. Henderson recovered quickly but found himself on his back. Cerrone gave up the dominant position to attempt several submissions from his back. Henderson, still standing, showed incredible heart and toughness as he survived a sickening omoplata arm lock to finish out the fight. After five incredibly intense rounds, the fight would be in hands of the judges.
Judges’ scorecards all read 48-47 in favor of Ben “Smooth” Henderson making him the new Interim WEC lightweight champion of the world.
“That’s exactly what I wanted coming into this fight,” Henderson joked. “Now, please, let’s never do that again. Now Jamie Varner you’ve got a date.”
Jansen Passes Stern Test Against Crunkilton
Lightweight Dave Jansen remained unbeaten as he outworked Rich “Cleat” Crunkilton over three rounds to score a unanimous decision.
Though Crunkilton was much more experienced, Jansen was unafraid to take the fight to him. After trading some heavy blows, Jansen used powerful wrestling to drive “Cleat” into the ground. In the north south position, Jansen fought off of heel hook and landed heavy blows from the top. After working back to his feet, Crunkilton dropped Jansen with an overhand right at the bell.
The second round saw Jansen continue to find success with his wrestling. After an exchange, Crunkilton was sent to canvas when he caught a kick below the belt. The fighters continued to exchange on the feet and, following a takedown, Jansen continued to steal the round with positional dominance.
Round three saw Crunkilton come alive when he was able to stuff the takedowns of his opponents. Working from a front headlock, Crunkilton nearly submitted Jansen with a d’arce choke. With his face bloodied, Jansen struggled for a takedown and slammed his opponent to the mat. From the side position, Jansen cranked the left arm of Crunkilton with a tight kimura shoulder lock. The round expired with Jansen in the top position.
Judges’ scorecards read 30-27, 29-28, and 29-28 in favor Dave Jansen.
Assuncao Edges Jabouin
Featherweight Raphael Assuncao scored a three round split decision over Yves Jabouin after fifteen close minutes.
After exchanging near misses for most of the first minute, Jabouin snagged a kick from his opponent and threw him to the ground. Following a scramble, Assuncao rose to his feet and scored with three hard punches to the head. Showing his superior ground skills, Assuncao swept his opponent to the mat but could not keep his man down. In the final minute of the round the men jockeyed for position against the cage until time expired.
Round two was fought almost entirely on the feet as both men traded hard shots. While Assuncao stalked his opponent, he was kept honest by the swift and explosive kicks of Jabouin. Following a right hand, the Quebecois launched a spinning back kick into the ribs of Assuncao that momentarily dropped him. The once-beaten Brazilian recovered however and nearly submitted Jabouin with a guillotine choke at the end of the round.
Assuncao scored first in round three with a slick footsweep following a stiff right cross. With Jabouin pressed into the cage, Assuncao took him down with ease and took his back. With his hooks in, Assuncao controlled the back of Jabouin for over a minute. With only a minute left Jabouin escaped to his feet and landed several snapping kicks in an attempt to retake the round.
Judges’ scorecards read 30-27 and 29-28 in favor of Raphael Assuncao and 30-27 in favor of Jabouin.
Page Victorious, Campuzano Overmatched
In a battle of 135 lb’ers Damacio “The Angel of Death” Page submitted WEC newcomer Will Campuzano in just 1:02.
The bantamweights wasted no time in round one as they traded wicked haymakers early with reckless abandon. Though Campuzano was returning fire, Page was the aggressor and scored an early takedown. Once on the mat, Page swiftly took the back of the younger Campuzano and sunk in the rear naked choke at 1:02 .
Undercard Results: Semerzier Upsets Fabiano
Scott Jorgensen used heavy ground n’ pound to badly hurt opponent Noah Thomas before the fight was waved off at 3:13 of the first round. Jorgensen was awarded the TKO victory.
In a major upset Mackens Semerzier submitted top five featherweight Wagney Fabiano with a slick triangle just 2:14 into the round. Fabiano holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Eddie Wineland put forth the best performance of his young career in his three round decision victory over former title challenger Manny Tapia. All three scorecards read the same 30-27.
Bantamweight Charlie Valencia won a unanimous decision over Coty Wheeler. Scorecards read 30-27 and 29-28 twice in favor of Valencia.
Deividas Taurosevicius scored a three round split decision over MMA veteran Javier Vazquez. Scores read 29-28 twice in favor of Taurosevicius.