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WEC 28: Faber vs. Farrar review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on February 7, 2009, 3:43 AM

I’ve reviewed WEC shows before, but this is the first one of the “new” WEC, so a quick background check is due. WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting) was originally ran out of Lemoore, California, from 2001 to 2006, and was seen as a breeding ground for fighters heading to the bigger shows of UFC, PRIDE, and so on. In December 2006, Zuffa, the parent group of UFC, bought out WEC in a move that was largely overshadowed by their other purchases of the WFA and eventually PRIDE.

Unlike those two though, WEC was kept as a separate promotion, changing to use a UFC-style Octagon rather than the old pentagonal cage, and was relocated to Las Vegas. The promotion vacated any titles that were held by current UFC fighters or fighters not under Zuffa contract (Hermes Franca vacated the Lightweight title, Joe Riggs vacated the Middleweight title, Mike Pyle vacated the Welterweight title) and scrapped the Heavyweight division altogether. Featherweight champ Urijah Faber was the only champion to keep his title, and with the removal of the Heavyweights a new Bantamweight (135lbs) weight class was introduced. Over time the WEC would move to really showcase the smaller fighters and become practically a US equivalent to Shooto, but in the beginning it was simply more of a sister promotion to the UFC with two extra weight classes. This show was the first one to air on free TV on the Versus network, as Zuffa had put on three shows beforehand that didn’t air live in order to sort out the championships and what-not.

WEC 28: Faber vs. Farrar

Las Vegas, Nevada

-Your hosts are Todd Harris and Frank Mir. It’s always important I think to have a good announcing crew and these two are REALLY good, especially Mir who’s an excellent colour guy to have there. They put Urijah Faber over right away as possibly the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Brian Stann vs Craig Zellner

They immediately try to push Stann as a star and it’s easy to see why, being an active US Marine who’d fought in Iraq and gained a Silver Star. I’m not that knowledgeable on US Army stuff but I know a Silver Star is a big deal. Stann had already KOd his first opponent in the WEC, Steve Cantwell, while Zellner had lost in his only prior WEC appearance and was probably brought in to put Stann over I’m thinking. He does have a win over TUF 3’s Mike Nickels, though.

They circle to begin before Stann lands a low kick and they tie up and exchange some knees. Stann breaks with a knee and they exchange some punches with Stann stunning him. Zellner lunges forward for a takedown attempt and ends up pulling guard when Stann stuffs it. Mir calls it a “horrible” attempt at a takedown, really critical. Stann decides to stand, and eats up a right hand from Zellner. Zellner shoots again but Stann sprawls and ends up on top in the guard. Stann lands a few punches, but Zellner generally ties him up pretty well. Stann brings it back up and they exchange some punches before Zellner shoots again and ends up being forced to pull guard. He tries an armbar from the bottom but Stann’s having none of it and pulls out. Zellner presses with punches into a clinch, and they muscle along the fence, before breaking off. They exchange some punches with Stann getting the better of it, Zellner looks real sloppy on his feet. Pair of big left hooks hurt Zellner and he shoots in and ends up pulling guard again. Big punches from the top from Stann land hard, and Zellner goes foetal so the ref steps in.

Solid win from Stann who did show some signs of weakness (keeping his chin very high during the punching exchanges) but then he’s inexperienced and you expect those things. He did show good power and a decent takedown defense though, and hey, you need to build experience somewhere. Not a bad fight.

Lightweight Fight: Alex Karalexis vs Josh Smith

Karalexis was best known for his appearance on the first season of TUF, that saw him lose to Diego Sanchez, and he also had a memorable fight with Kenny Florian that ended with Florian slicing his nose open with an elbow. He’d been in the WEC for some time prior to Zuffa’s buyout, too. Don’t know much about Smith at all to be honest. He is 6’2” though, tall for a Lightweight.

Round One begins and they circle around, before Karalexis throws an overhand right a couple of times. Smith gets a push kick that shoves Karalexis across the cage, but doesn’t hurt him. Big left from Karalexis but Smith shoots and tries to lock up a D’Arce. Karalexis avoids and Smith grabs a standing guillotine and then switches to a standing crucifix and lands a knee. Alex reverses though and gets a takedown to guard. Smith ties him up and stands, and then avoids a high crotch takedown. Karalexis breaks with a right hand, and then avoids a spinning backfist and spinning kick from Smith. Body kick from Smith, but Karalexis lands a big right hand over the top and then gets a takedown to half-guard. Smith uses the fence to get full guard as Karalexis digs his elbow into Smith’s face. Alex stands and takes a couple of upkicks, but then drops a nice right back down into the guard. Same thing happens again to end the round.

2nd round and Karalexis lands a leg kick, but Smith answers with a NICE superman punch into a left hand! Karalexis clinches and looks for the takedown again, transitioning to the back with a rear waistlock. Couple of knees land for Alex as Smith turns into him, and they break off. Nice leg kick from Karalexis and he gets a takedown off a clinch again. Karalexis drops some shots and then goes down into the guard. Smith locks up a triangle from the guard as Alex punches the body, and then Karalexis lifts him up into the air before he can synch it in, walks to his corner and delivers a POWERFUL SLAM. Smith lands hard but tries the triangle again, but this time Karalexis slips free easily and goes back into the guard. Karalexis passes to side mount and lands some nice unanswered blows to the head, and then grinds the elbow into the face. Alex stands over him, and works to pass the guard again, continually dropping punches from above. He gets to side mount again, but Smith stays active from his back and tries to use his legs on the cage to reverse. Karalexis keeps him down though and works him over to close the round out.

Third and final round and Alex opens with an overhand right into a clinch, where he looks for the takedown. Smith reverses using a standing kimura and then goes for a takedown of his own, but Karalexis avoids and then gets a nice belly-to-belly throw, stepping over to mount as they go down. Smith uses his long legs to reverse though and goes for a foot lock. Karalexis avoids, and ends up back in Smith’s guard, where he continues to work Smith over with conservative ground-and-pound, standing every now and then to attempt to pass the guard. Ten seconds remaining and Karalexis lands a stomp, and gets a point taken away from him. No idea why he’d do that. Fight ends as they restart anyway.

Got to be Karalexis’s fight I think, but then losing a point like that in the last round might make things different as the first round was somewhat close. Judges score it 28-28, 29-27 and 29-27, giving Karalexis the majority decision. Right result in the end then. Some dull spots but in general this was perfectly acceptable MMA.

Welterweight Fight: Brock Larson vs Kevin Knabjian

UFC veteran Larson had been scheduled to fight Carlos Condit for the Welterweight Title here, but Condit ended up pulling out with injury and so the ‘Brainerd Brawler’ was faced with the largely unknown Knabjian instead. This was a prelim taped earlier in the night. Larson really is a big, powerful looking dude for 170lbs.

They begin and right away Larson DECKS HIM WITH A HUGE LEFT and then comes charging in like a rhino to finish him off. Knabjian makes it to his feet where Larson grabs a standing rear naked choke, and then tosses the guy down like a rag doll before landing a crushing knee. Few punches on the ground finish things.

Larson looked like an animal there. Total massacre.

Featherweight Fight: Mark Hominick vs Rani Yahya

Yahya was coming in with a big reputation for his grappling, and he had been fighting for K1 Hero’s in Japan where he’d fought JZ Cavalcante even. He’s a more natural 135lbs, though. Hominick had been in the UFC for a brief run that saw him beat Yves Edwards and Jorge Gurgel, but it’s clear that 145lbs is more natural for him. This was a total style clash match-up, with Hominick wanting to stand and Yahya wanting to get it to the ground ASAP.

They begin and Yahya comes out looking for the takedown, not even attempting to set up a shot or anything, just rushing in with his head down and literally diving for the legs. Surely this can’t work. Hominick just backs up and tries to avoid, but Yahya actually manages to grab a leg. He pulls guard, but Hominick quickly stands up and tries to escape his clutches. Yahya manages to get a single though and trips him down, and then takes the back with one hook as Hominick stands. Yahya tries to hop onto his back like a spider monkey, and then pulls him down and Mir is instantly like “Oh, he’s gonna get choked here, it’s over”, as frank as you like. Hilarious. But sure enough Yahya locks up the choke and it is indeed over.

Bizarre fight, honestly looked like something from the early UFCs or something like that. Post-fight Yahya says Hominick hit him once and he can’t remember a thing after that. Well I can’t even remember seeing Hominick hit him, but whatever. I guess it was over quickly at least.

Welterweight Fight: John Alessio vs Alex Serdyukov

This was a rematch of a fight in the old pre-Zuffa WEC that saw Alessio submit the Russian Serdyukov. At this point in time Alessio was one of the WEC’s top Welters actually and had lost the fight to Carlos Condit to decide who would take the Welterweight Title. Serdyukov gets announced as ‘The Russian Crusher’, which is a seriously ill nickname.

They circle round to open, exchanging the odd combo along the way, Alessio getting the better of it. Serdyukov decides to shoot in for a takedown, but leaves his head out and ends up getting tapped by a guillotine choke.

Short fight but it didn’t really have much going on, basically a couple of punches and then wham, guillotine. Not much to note but nothing to complain about either I guess.

WEC World Featherweight Title: Urijah Faber vs Chance Farrar

Faber had been running over pretty much everyone he’d faced at this point, apart from Tyson Griffin that is, and it’s pretty clear that he’s being pushed as the poster boy of the company. He’d already defended his title twice under the Zuffa regime alone, and this would be his third defense, against the undefeated but largely unknown wrestling-based Chance Farrar. On paper this was pretty much a showcase fight for Faber if we’re being frank. And I hate to sound like a fashion freak or anything here but Faber has to be the coolest looking guy in MMA I think, like a real life version of Johnny Lawrence from the Karate Kid or something.

They circle tentatively to open and Faber lands first with a glancing overhand right. They throw some feeler strikes from the outside, and then Farrar closes the distance and clinches up. He tries a single leg and then gets an Iranian lift, dumping Urijah down, but Faber gets a slick reversal and goes for a guillotine. Farrar works his way out of that and ends up in side mount, but Faber goes for a switch only to give his back and Farrar tries an over/under. Faber looks to break free and takes a couple of hammer fists to the side of the head, but then he gets the reversal and lifts Farrar up before dropping to his backside with Farrar underneath, almost like a Vertebreaker-esque slam. Farrar gets a reversal and goes for the back again, but Faber twists at a pretty crazy angle and gets on top with a double leg. Farrar tries to roll but Faber suddenly hops onto his back from nowhere and locks up a rear naked choke for the tapout!

Really good fight, just like a wrestling match really with all the reversals, a lot like a faster-paced version of the first Matt Hughes-Frank Trigg match with more twists and turns actually. Faber is just so explosive though and difficult to keep down, which Farrar discovered the hard way. Just an entertaining little fight as always with the California Kid.

-Announcers plug the upcoming WEC WrekCage shows and we hit the highlight reel.

Final Thoughts....

WEC have put on much better shows than this one since they really started bringing in the top-level talent in the lower weight classes and concentrating on them, but this was a fun enough show, with some cool finishes and nothing horrible to really mention. Karalexis-Smith wasn’t a great fight but it wasn’t sub-KOTC level or anything like that, and Faber-Farrar was a pretty tremendous three-minute fight. Cool finishes in the Stann, Larson and Yahya fights are worth a look too. Not the best show ever and not even close to what WEC is producing now but in terms of the Zuffa-led WEC this was a solid place to start.

Best Fight: Faber-Farrar
Worst Fight: Alessio-Serdyukov

Overall Rating: **3/4

Coming Soon....

UFC: 79-94, Fight Nights 12-16, and TUF VII and VIII Finales.
Pride: Shockwave 2005, Shockwave 2006, 32, and 33.
WEC: 29-38
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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