by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com (Photos by Scott Petersen)
LAS VEGAS – World Extreme Cagefighting made its highly anticipated live debut on the Versus network Sunday night, presenting WEC 28 from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
In the main event, WEC Featherweight Champion Urijah Faber further instigated his chokehold on the division, defending his crown against Chance Farrar. The two exchanged takedowns and awkward slams – Faber even saying he utilized an “atomic butt drop” – but it was the Champ who outwrestled Farrar for position and secured a rear naked choke for the victory.
The night was a huge step forward for WEC with the debut on Versus, but maybe an even bigger step for Faber. He has built a grass roots following by dominating his division, amassing a record of 19-1 with this latest victory, but headlining and dominating on the WEC’s Versus debut should help to propel Faber to new heights of stardom typically reserved for the Chuck Liddells and Randy Coutures of the sport.
In a fight of WEC debuts, Rani Yahya almost comically avoided any attempts at a standing exchange with Mark Hominick, pursuing the takedown. But his tenacity paid off as he eventually got to Hominick’s back and secured a rear naked choke for the win. Despite the awkwardness of the opening moments when Yahya was chasing Hominick around the cage, it was an impressive performance by Yahya as he cinched the choke for the finish.
Yahya did eat a couple of shots early and it reflected in his post-fight comments. “He hit me and I don’t remember one thing that happened in the fight. He hit me hard man, I’m telling you the truth.”
‘The Ultimate Fighter’ veteran Alex Karalexis fought a tough, drawn out battle with the relatively unknown Josh Smith. Despite his left eye swelling to a close by the end of the first round, Karalexis was able to dish out enough punishment of his own – continually taking Smith down and pounding him over the three rounds – to secure a majority decision victory. It would have been unanimous had Karalexis not received a 1 point deduction near the end of the third for an illegal stomp to the body.
U.S. Marine Brian Stann continued his undefeated run, including three straight in the WEC, by battling it out with Craig Zellner for the better part of a round. The two continually traded strikes with Stann slightly ahead. As the round came to a close, Stann was able to start landing some heavy ground and pound and poured it on until referee John Schorle stopped the bout at 4:57 of the first.
Brock Larson was expecting a title fight tonight, but instead had to face late replacement Kevin Knabjian. Unfortunate for Knabjian, as Larson took out his frustrations by flooring him with a left hand. He followed that with a knee that dropped Knabjian again, before finishing him off with punches for a dominating 27-second performance.
Following a disappointing loss his last time out in a title fight with Carlos Condit, Alessio made a statement for a return shot. In this rematch with Alex Serdyukov, Alessio exchanged punches early, but secured a guillotine choke off of a Serdyukov takedown attempt to end the fight little more than one minute into the first round.
“I want another title shot. I’ll take it anyway I can get it. I want Carlos again,” stated Alessio following the bout.
Cub Swanson and Micah Miller fought a barnburner. They exchanged brutal combinations, both hands and knees; as well as displaying some amazing ground skills. The two transitioned from submission to submission and continually reversed each other. But it was Swanson that held the edge throughout, stunning Miller several times en route to a unanimous decision victory and hopefully a step closer to a title shot.
Both Charlie Valencia and Brian Bowles came out looking to put a statement on their bout, each looking to knock the other out. After several harsh exchanges, the two ended up on the mat in the second round where Bowles secured a rear naked choke to finish the fight by submission heading back to Athens, Georgia undefeated at 4-0 as a professional fighter.
In the night’s opening bout, Jeff Beard utilized his takedown abilities to control the majority of his fight with Mike French. While there were a few good submission attempts throughout, it was Beard’s controlling style that earned him a unanimous decision to remain undefeated.
LIVE ON VERSUS
Urijah Faber def. Chance Farrar by Submission (Rear Naked Coke) at 3:19, Round 1
Rani Yahya def. Mark Hominick by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:19, Round 1
Alexis Karalexis def. Josh Smith by Majority Decision (28-28, 29-27, 29-27)
Brian Stann def. Craig Zeller by TKO (Strikes) at 4:57, Round 1
Brock Larson def. Kevin Knabjian by TKO (Strikes) at 0:27, Round 1
John Alessio def. Alex Serdyukov by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 1:19, Round 1
Cub Swanson def. Micah Miller by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Brian Bowles def. Charlie Valencia by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:50, Round 2
Jeff Bedard def. Mike French by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)