by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
In a night of fights meant to build new contenders, the WEC may have crowned a new featherweight top dog as well as 2 lightweights who will be gunning for title shots in the near future. Former “Ultimate Fighter” finalist, Manny Gamburyan, may have secured a shot at the 145lb title with his win over Leonard Garcia, while Karen Darabedyan and Shane Roller represented well for the lightweight division.
Coming into his 2nd featherweight fight, Manny Gamburyan was trying to establish himself as a #1 contender and he showed a well rounded set of skills to keep Garcia off balance en route to a unanimous decision win. Outside of the first round where he caught the Armenian fighter with some good strikes, Garcia never put together any really strong offense, struggling with his opponent’s grappling pedigree.
It may have taken him more than 5 minutes to get his ground game moving, but once Gamburyan established his takedown, he showed tremendous strength and control keeping Garcia on his back, fighting for air. Showing some good punching power as well, Gamburyan left a good impression in the judges’ minds with his ability to step forward and push Garcia for all three rounds. In the end, Gamburyan’s pace, ground game, and takedowns were just too much for Garcia to overcome.
Taking a big step in the lightweight division, Armenian newcomer Karen Darabedyan, looked strong in a split decision win over former WEC champion, “Razor” Rob McCullough on Wednesday night. Not fearing the stand-up game, Darabedyan showed a great jab all night long as he continuously tagged the California native throughout the fight.
McCullough battled back with some great body kicks of his own, but Darabedyan used superior accuracy to pop the former champ at will in the fight. For every kick McCullough threw, Darabedyan seemed to answer with a combination of punches of his own. Beating McCullough to the punch at almost every turn, Darabedyan earned a win over a former champion, and made an instant name for himself in the growing 155lb division.
Shane Roller battled through a hard fought war with Danny Castillo, finally pulling out a rear naked choke victory late in the third round to get the win. Roller, a former All-American wrestler, actually struggled giving up takedowns in the fight with Castillo, but in the end it was his superior ground game that made the difference.
In the 2nd round, Roller took Castillo’s back and it looked like he might pound out a finish, but his opponent did a good job of defending and getting out of trouble. A similar position in the third round left Roller ready to finish this time as he took Castillo’s back again, worked for the choke and forced the tap out.
Kamal Shalorus made short work of fellow WEC newcomer, Will Kerr, with a punishing display of stand-up to get the first round finish to start off the televised card on Versus. Shalorus planted punch after punch on a largely defenseless Kerr, who left his chin high and wide open during the entire fight which left a large target for his opponent to blast away at.
Shalorus moves to 1-0 in the WEC, while Kerr will definitely have to head back to the drawing board after basically not showing up in his debut fight.