by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
McCullough and Beebe Impressive At WEC 30
By Ricardo Mendoza

Quick and impressive performances were the flavor of the night as only three fights made it out of the first night at WEC 30. Two titles were on the line and neither title fight disappointed in what turned out to be an exciting night of fights.

WEC Lightweight Champion “Razor” Rob McCullough stepped in the cage for the first time in eight months, stopping UFC veteran Rich Crunkilton in the main event. Crunkilton came out aggressive on his feet, throwing hard kicks to the body and mixed with punches. McCullough stayed cool and waited for his opportunity to strike, catching Crunkilton with a stunning flurry of punches that dropped him. Crunkilton worked hard to take McCullough down but McCullough defended well and again dropped Crunkilton with a solid right hand. Crunkilton once again tried to get the game to the ground because at this point he was on rubber legs. McCullough shrugged him off, once again dropping Crunkilton as this time referee Herb Dean had seen enough as he stepped in to stop the fight at 1:29 of the first round.

WEC Bantamweight Champion Chase Beebe successfully defended his title for the first time, winning a convincing decision over ADCC Champion Rani Yahya. Yahya came out striking, getting dropped briefly before immediately locking on a tight kneebar that Beebe nearly escaped. Yahya would then transition from submission to submission, trying to finish the champion within the distance. Yahya locked on a tight north/south choke towards the end of the round but Beebe was saved by the bell.

The rest of the fight would be all Beebe as he was able out hustle Yahya for the remainder of the fight. Beebe would transition from position to position but Yahya showed his ground expertise, escaping danger on several occasions. Beebe secured Yahya’s back on several times but was unable to effectively finish Yahya from that position. Although he effectively escaped dangerous positions, Yahya never really put Beebe in danger for the rest of fight.

Beebe turned up the heat in the fifth and final round, effectively pounding Yahya throughout the round, who at this point was tired and was only trying to survive. Beebe finished the fight with a barrage of strikes from the top, putting a final mark on his impressive performance. Beebe would walk away with a five round unanimous decision victory and a WEC title belt around his waist.

U.S. Marine Brian Stann looked impressive tonight, stopping the smaller Jeremiah Billington with strikes in the first round. From the onset it was obvious that Stann was the stronger fighter as he muscled Billington in the clinch. From there, Stann landed several effective knees before separating from the clinch. Billington landed a solid uppercut but Stann returned fire with a solid flurry before putting Billington on his back. Stann worked over Billington with some ground and pound before standing up and dropping a couple of big punches that forced the referee to put a halt to the fight at 3:07 of the opening stanza.

Miguel Torres opened the televised portion of the card with an impressive submission victory over decorated wrestler Jeff Bedard. Torres looked relaxed as Bedard took the fight to the ground and looked to open up with strikes. Torres would have none of that as he did an excellent job of neutralizing Bedard from landing any solid punches, while in Torres’s guard. Then suddenly out of no where Torres slapped on a beautiful triangle choke that forced Bedard to tap at 2:30 of the first round.

John Alessio played a cautious game en route to victory over Brazilian Marcelo Brito. The same story would play out for all three rounds. Alessio would land sporadic shots on the feet before both fighters would clinch against the fence ending with Brito falling to his back. Alessio would stand over him and kick his legs, while mixing in punches. Alessio’s frustration was apparent in the final round, once both fighters clinched along the fence, Alessio would pick up and toss Brito to his back. Alessio landed a couple of solid shots while standing over Brito and that put an exclamation mark on a rather lackluster fight. At the end of the day, Alessio’s aggressiveness earned him the unanimous decision with all three judges scoring it 30-27 in favor of Alessio. In his post fight interview, Alessio called out WEC Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit wanting a rematch for the title.

Marcus Hicks wasted no time against WEC newcomer Scott McAfee, immediately getting the fight to the ground with a slam. Hicks worked some sporadic ground and pound before finally moving into side mount. McAfee saw an opportunity and a scramble ensued with Hicks locking in a guillotine choke and falling to his back, forcing the tapout from McAfee at 2:13 of the first round.

Bryan Baker and Jesse Forbes put on an action packed round as their fight went back and forth. Forbes immediately dropped Baker with a punch but Baker got back to his feet. Smelling blood, Forbes tried to finish his stunned opponent on the feet but Baker showed excellent defense by avoiding the majority of Forbes’s onslaught. Forbes picked Baker up and slammed him on his back, before almost securing a standing guillotine that gave Baker a chance to slam Forbes. After a scramble, Forbes took Baker down and secured his back. Baker reversed into Forbes’s guard and turned up the heat, landing brutal shots from the top. Baker quickly moved into side mount then mount, where he continued to rain down the punishment forcing Forbes to give up his back. Baker stayed persistent and kept the heat on, landing brutal shots that forced the referee to stop the fight at 4:15 of the first round.

Tapout reality TV star Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone made a successful WEC debut, submitting late replacement Kenneth Alexander. Cerrone looked good on his feet as he landed several stinging punches that forced Alexander to take the fight to the ground. Cerrone immediately locked his legs around Alexander’s head, getting a funky triangle neck crank that forced Alexander to tapout, fifty-six seconds into the first round.

Local favorite Blas Avena made quick work of late replacement Joe Benoit, submitting him with a guillotine choke only twenty nine seconds into the fight.

In the opening fight, Ian McCall put an absolute beating on Coty Wheeler. McCall got an early takedown and began to dish out the punishment, landing several big shots that opened a cut on Wheeler’s face. Wheeler escaped to his feet but McCall once again got it to the ground and ended the round with solid ground and pound.

In the second round, McCall was teeing off on Wheeler before taking the fight to the ground again. McCall worked from side mount, where he just landed brutal elbows and punches that turned Wheeler’s face into hamburger meat. McCall mounted Wheeler then got his back before Wheeler escaped to his feet, where McCall picked his shots to end the round.

McCall again picked Wheeler apart on the feet in the third round before picking Wheeler up and slamming him to the ground. McCall landed several big shots from standing in Wheeler’s guard that forced the referee to stop the fight at 4:34 of the last round.

September 5, 2007
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada

“Razor” Rob McCullough def. Rich Crunkilton by TKO (Strikes) at 1:29, R1

Chase Beebe def. Rani Yahya by Unanimous Decision, R5

Brian Stann def. Jeremiah Billington by TKO at 3:07, R1
Miguel Torres def. Jeff Bedard by Submission (Triangle Choke) at 2:30, R1
John Alessio def. Marcelo Brito by Unanimous Decision, R3
Marcus Hicks def. Scott McAfee by guillotine choke at 2:13, R1
Bryan Baker def. Jesse Forbes by TKO (Strikes) at 4:15, R1
Donald Cerrone def. Kenneth Alexander by Submission (Triangle Neck Crank) at 0:56, R1
Blas Avena def. Joe Benoit by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 0:29, R1
Ian McCall def. Coty Wheeler by TKO (Strikes) at 4:34, R3