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Aldo dethrones Brown at WEC 44

Preview by Brady Crytzer
Photos by Chris Cozzone

In front of a capacity crowd at The Palms Casino in Las Vegas, 23 year old Jose Aldo TKO’ed Mike Brown to become the WEC featherweight champion in the second round of their scheduled five-round contest.

The eyes of the combat sports world were on The Pearl at The Palms Wednesday night, and for good reason.

To say that Jose Aldo’s rise to the top of the featherweight division was meteoric is the understatement of the year. By combining black belt level Brazilian jiu jitsu with lightening fast muay thai, the 23 year old Brazilian was easily the most dangerous challenge to Mike Brown’s world championship. Brown, despite defeating greats like Jeff Curran and Urijah Faber, had never fought an opponent quite like Aldo.

Aldo entered the cage upbeat, jumping with an excited rhythm while the champion Brown walked with a face of granite to meet his challenger. It was a fitting and symbolic representation of the careers and demeanor of both fighters.

Brown, who has positioned himself comfortably among the best pound for pound in the sport, was wary of the notoriously fast starting Aldo. Brown used a pumping double jab early to find his range. In return Aldo threw a lightening fast combination that missed its mark. As the round continued it appeared as though the challenger began to loosen up as he threw a number of snapping kicks.

After stunning the champion with a body kick Aldo became careless and allowed Brown to push him into the cage. The champion secured a body lock on his younger opponent and was able to drag him to the mat but failed to capitalize. The first round ended with Brown attempting to cut off the ring and Aldo throwing misplaced haymakers.

Although Brown was the aggressor early in round two it was Aldo who scored with the more meaningful strikes including a hard kick to the body. With Brown hurt, Aldo pulled the champion to the mat and quickly took his back.

In a dominant position Aldo began to tee off with a brutal series of punches to the purely defensive Brown. Unable to defend himself, Brown could do nothing but cover up as the young Aldo blasted him time and again until referee Steve Mazzagatti waved off the contest.

The official time of the stoppage was 1:20 of the second round.

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Gamburyan Makes it 2-0 in WEC, Defeats Garcia

In a featherweight showdown former Season Five finalist of The Ultimate Fighter Manny Gamburyan defeated Leonard Garcia via unanimous decision. Scores read 30-27, and 29-28 twice.

Gamburyan closed in immediately on the former world title challenger looking to engage right away. While shooting for a takedown, Gamburyan was caught with Garcia uppercut that momentarily dazed him. Proving to have a strong chin, Gamburyan was back on his feet immediately as the fight continued. After landing the initial punch, Garcia began to swing wildly and allowed his opponent to close in to his body and drive him to the fence. In the clinch, the action was stopped as Gamburyan kneed Garcia below the belt. The fighters restarted and Gamburyan scored a takedown which his opponent defended nicely. Garcia ended the round by throwing a wild headkick which just missed.

The first minute of the round was one that both men would like to forget as they each missed with wild punches, throwing themselves off balance. Gamburyan was the first to gain an advantage when he briefly put Garcia on the mat. Back on the feet Gamburyan once again fell after missing a wild right but was able to scoop Garcia in the air and slam him with authority. Gamburyan remained on top for the rest of the period.

Sensing that he was behind on points Garcia came out like a man on fire as he threw a number of hard kicks and punches. Nearly two minutes into the round Gamburyan began to land hard shots and Garcia responded in turn by verbalizing his opinion of the former Ultimate Fighter contestant. Gamburyan did not take the bait however and took his opponent to the mat. After being controlled for nearly a minute, Garcia tried to fight off the tenacious Gamburyan but had no success. The fight ended with Gamburyan in firm control on the top position.

Judges’ scorecards read 30-27, and 29-28 twice in favor of Manny Gamburyan.

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Darabedyan Upsets McCullough, Gets Split Nod

After three rounds of furious action WEC newcomer Karen Darabedyan upset former lightweight champion “Razor” Rob McCullough via split decision.

Despite his grappling pedigree Darabedyan was more than happy to fire quick combinations at McCullough early. While commanding the center of the cage, the Armenian fighter scored with a left hook that stunned his opponent. Although “Razor” enjoyed a significant striking advantage, the unpredictable Darabedyan kept him off balance and neutralized his edge. In the closing seconds of the round Darabedyan scored with a number of clean punches that left his opponent beaten and bloodied. The judo black belt did not once attempt a takedown in the first period.

Darabedyan continued to work in the second round and, after eating a snapping leg kick, finally shot in for a takedown. Inside of the guard of McCullough, Darabedyan landed stiff shots but allowed his opponent to escape. Following an exchange McCullough landed a stiff left that wobbled Darabedyan, a reminder of the ever-present power that made him a world champion. With his confidence building McCullough began to let his hands go and Darabedyan’s face told the story.

Darabedyan began to score again in the third round. Following a leg kick by “Razor,” Darabedyan countered with a right hand that evoked a smile from his opponent. Though he was vastly more experienced, McCullough was the more tired fighter and was breathing heavily through his mouth. As the final seconds ticked away the bloody McCullough signaled at his opponent to bring the action.

Judges’ scorecard read 30-27, and 29-28 for the winner Karen Darabedyan. One judge scored the bout 30-27 in favor of McCullough.

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Roller Outlasts Castillo, Expects Title Shot

In a battle of lightweight contender Shane Roller overcame two rounds of adversity to submit Danny Castillo with a rear naked choke. The tap came at 3:32 of the third round.

The two standout wrestlers traded barbs early in the fight with Castillo getting the better of the exchanges. Falling behind, Roller was the first one to shoot for a takedown just after the one minute mark. Castillo stuffed the takedown however and, after some effective boxing, briefly wrestled his man to the mat. Roller stood up almost immediately and the striking match continued. Castillo timed another takedown and muscled Roller to the mat yet again. For the remainder of the round, Castillo hammered down punches and elbows from inside the guard of his opponent.

Castillo clinched with Roller and pressed him into the cage to begin the second. After a break Roller rushed forward with punches but was thrown to the mat. Back on the feet Roller began to find success with his punches and took Castillo down with ease. In the top position Roller locked in a tight guillotine choke against the fence. Castillo showed strong heart in surviving and escaping the hold, but soon found himself on his stomach with Roller dropping heavy punches from his back. Castillo was able to buck his opponent off and regain his footing as time expired.

Visibly tired in the beginning of the third round, Castillo was able to wrestle his opponent to the mat. From the side mount Castillo slammed elbows into the face of Roller which began to bruise on impact. After landing some blows Castillo switch to mount but quickly lost the position. Roller stood up and, with his hands at his waist, initiated the boxing match. After missing with a looping left, Castillo found himself out of position and laying facedown on the canvas. Roller, showing great awareness, quickly locked in a rear naked choke and forced the tap at 3:32.

“Usually when I get on top and flatten somebody out they don’t get back up,” Roller explained. “They are all must wins, but I definitely think this earns me a shot. I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get a title shot after this fight.”

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Shalorus Arrives in WEC, TKO’s Kerr

Lightweight Kamal “The Prince of Persia” Shalorus needed just 1:26 to TKO Will Kerr in his WEC debut.

In both of their WEC debuts, the lightweight fighters appeared tentative early. Following a period of inactivity, Shalorus woke up The Pearl by dropping Kerr with a winging overhand right. From the top position “The Prince of Persia” began to work with punches but was almost caught in a kneebar.

Back on the feet Shalorus continued to throw laborious, but very heavy, punches at the chin of the defensive Kerr. After some near misses Shalorus found his range and put Kerr down for the final time.

Referee Steve Mazzagatti mercifully halted the contest at 1:26 of the first round.

“I knew he was going to back up,” the overjoyed Shalorus said. “I love MMA. I’m from a very small village in Iran, and I thank you America for this opportunity.”

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Undercard Results: Swanson, Davis Win Big

Featherweight Cub Swanson battled for three grueling rounds with John Franchi before sinking in the fight ending guillotine choke with just ten seconds left in the fight. The official time of the stoppage was 4:50 of round three.

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Featherweight L.C. Davis pulled off the night’s first upset when he defeated Diego Nunes via unanimous decision. All three judges scored the bout 30-26.

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Antonio Banuelos was awarded a three round unanimous decision over Kenji Osawa in a bantamweight feature. All three judges saw the bout the same, 29-28.

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In a lightweight bout Ricardo Lamas defeated James Krause on all three scorecards 30-27 giving him the unanimous decision victory.

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Bantamweight Frank Gomez scored a three round unanimous decision over Seth Dikun via unanimous decision. Scores read 30-27 and 29-28 twice.

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