by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber defended his title in his hometown against Jens Pulver in a five round war on Sunday night. According to World Extreme Cagefighting officials, there were 12,682 fans in attendance with a live gate of $738,855.
Faber was able to display his stand-up in this fight, tagging Pulver with crisp combinations, but the former UFC lightweight champion got in some shots of his own throughout the fight, testing the champion like never before.
The fight played out with the two warriors trading shots back and forth, tagging each other with crisp punches. Faber finally was able to get the fight on the ground on several occasions in the later rounds, punishing Pulver with his trademark elbows, leaving his face swollen and discolored.
One thing that was never in doubt was the hometown crowd’s enthusiasm throughout the fight as they encouraged their champion on and cheered the rival Pulver by the end of the five-round war. As the fight wound down, Faber was able to get a takedown and land a couple of punishing elbows for good measure as both fighters were given a standing ovation once the fight ended.
Hometown hero Urijah Faber earned a unanimous decision with scores of 50-45, 50-44 and 50-44, winning every round on the judges’ scorecards.
“Sacramento has a great 145-pound champion” said Pulver after the fight.
“This was just a fun experience overall. I feel honored to be here in my hometown to put on a show,” said Faber.
WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres made his first title defense against former featherweight King of Pancrase Yoshiro Maeda in what is easily a fight of the year candidate. These two went to war with Torres using his reach, tagging Maeda with jabs and kicks. Maeda found his way inside and returned fire with crisp combinations and kicks of his own. On the occasion the fight went on the ground, Maeda would drop punches and quickly get back on his feet wanting no part of the champion’s submissions.
In the second round, the war continued on with Torres finding his range with punches and landing the occasional flurry of knees. By now both Torres and Maeda showed signs of war, with Torres bleeding profusely from a cut and Maeda’s right eye swelling quickly. Maeda switched strategies, taking the fight to the ground and going for a heel hook, Torres obliging by going for his own. After a scramble the champion ended the round in mount, dropping blows on Maeda.
It was more of the same in the third with Torres starting to take over with his jab and Maeda becoming frustrated on occasion. By round’s end, Maeda’s eye was swollen shut, forcing the doctor to stop the fight in between the third and fourth round, giving Torres the victory.
Former NCAA wrestling champion Mark Munoz made a successful WEC debut, stopping Midwest striker Chuck Grigsby in the opening round. Grigsby looked good early, using his reach to tag Munoz on the feet, even stopping one of his takedowns, but the wrestler was finally able to get the fight to the ground. From then on, Munoz punished Grigsby with strikes, diving in and out of his guard with hard punches. Munoz continued this onslaught until finally catching Grigsby with a shot, following it up with more punches and putting a halt to the fight at 4:15 of the first stanza.
“Razor” Rob McCullough won a controversial decision over Kenneth Alexander, in what turned out to be a lackluster fight. Neither fighter seemed willing to engage, instead playing it safe and keeping their distance and picking their shots. Through the fight, it was Alexander who pressed forward and on several occasions went for takedowns, but McCullough stuffed most of them. In the final round, both fighters started to get more active, but not as much as the crowd would have liked. The judges gave their verdict with McCullough winning on two judges’ cards with the score of 30-27 and Alexander taking the other with a score of 29-28.
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone continued his submission streak, finishing WEC newcomer Danny Castillo early on in the first round. After a takedown by Castillo, Cerrone went for an armbar right off the bat, but Castillo pulled out and Cerrone once again went for it, locking in the technique for good this time.
(The Cerrone victory was officially announced as being at 0:30 of round one, but the fight clock appeared to be closer to 1:30.)
Mike Brown made an impressive WEC debut, winning a well-earned decision over former title challenger Jeff Curran. Brown stayed composed through the fight, trading with Curran on their feet before getting the takedown and controlling him with punches and elbows. For all three rounds, Brown would punish Curran with the same offense. Curran had no answer for the attack. In the end, Brown walked way with a unanimous decision, gaining scores of 30-27 on all three judges cards.
Returning to action for the first time since losing his title, former WEC bantamweight champion Chase Beebe faced Brazilian striker Will Ribeiro. The Brazilian scored on the feet with kicks and crisp combinations as Beebe looked to take the fight to the ground. Each time Beebe got a takedown, Ribeiro would catch him in a guillotine, but was never able to finish the hold. From there Beebe would land elbows and punches, but Ribeiro would always get back to his feet. The same scenario played out for all three rounds with the judges being more impressed with Ribeiro’s striking, earning him a split decision with scores of 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28.
In a come from behind victory, Tim McKenzie choked out a very game Jeremy Lang in the final round of their middleweight fight. Lang used his powerful wrestling to control McKenzie on the ground, but was infective, to say the least, when it came to doing damage. McKenzie fought back, landing elbows and opening a cut on Lang’s forehead. Lang controlled the action in the second once again, keeping McKenzie grounded and even going for a pair of rear naked chokes, but McKenzie defended well and made it out of the round.
After a failed takedown by McKenzie to start the third round, Lang landed a knee to the groin putting a stop to the action. Once the action resumed again. McKenzie landed a big shot that forced Lang to go for a takedown, getting caught in a guillotine choke that put him to sleep, forty seconds into the last round.
Russian welterweight Alex Serdyukov might have put himself into title contention, stopping the debuting Luis Sapo after one round of action. Both fighters engaged on the feet with neither landing anything of note, but staying busy. As the round was coming to an end, Sapo slipped and Serdyukov pounced on top, dropping elbows and punches that had the Brazilian stunned with his saving grace being the end of the round. Sapo looked sluggish getting back to his corner and it was determined between rounds that he was unable to continue.
In an all-Brazilian battle, Nova Uniao’s Jose Aldo made a successful American debut, stopping former Shooto lightweight champion Alexandre Franca Nogueira. The first round was uneventful as neither fighter engaged much with Aldo being the aggressor on the feet and defending Nogueira’s attempts to take the fight to the ground.
The second round began with much of the same, but midway through the round, Nogueira dropped to his back after a failed takedown. Aldo jumped and unleashed a furious onslaught of punches and elbows that cut Nogueira and had him out of the fight at 3:22 of the second round.
The night was opened with bantamweight action as Dominick Cruz edged out a game Charlie Valencia. Both fighters kept the fight on the feet and each landed their shots throughout the fight. Cruz stunned Valencia in the first with a fluid combination and Valencia did the same in the second stanza. It all came down to the final round with Cruz landing the more effective shots on the feet and winning a unanimous decision with scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
-Urijah Faber def. Jens Pulver by Unanimous Decision, R5
-Miguel Torres def. Yoshiro Maeda by TKO (Injury Stoppage) at 5:00, R3
-Mark Munoz def. Chuck Grigsby by TKO (Strikes) at 4:15, R1
-Rob McCullough def. Kenneth Alexander by Split Decision, R3
-Donald Cerrone def. Danny Castillo by Submission (Armbar) at 0:30, R1
-Mike Brown def. Jeff Curran by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Will Ribeiro def. Chase Beebe by Split Decision, R3
-Tim McKenzie def. Jeremy Lang by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 0:40, R3
-Alex Serdyukov def. Luis Sapo by TKO at 5:00, R1
-Jose Aldo def. Alexandre Franca Nogueira by TKO at 3:22, R2
-Dominick Cruz def. Charlie Valencia by Unanimous Decision, R3