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WEC 33: Marshall vs. Stann review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on May 26, 2009, 10:02 AM

WEC 33: Marshall vs. Stann

Las Vegas, Nevada

-Your hosts are Todd Harris and Frank Mir.

-Original co-main event for this was the Filho-Sonnen rematch for the Middleweight Title, but Filho pulled out with substance problems (!) and ended up in rehab, with Bryan Baker stepping in to take his place. This pretty much deprived the card of the one interesting fight to me, which was annoying.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Steve Cantwell vs Tim McKenzie

California native McKenzie was making his return to WEC here as heíd fought multiple times for the company before it was bought out by Zuffa in 2006. He actually held a win over Doug Marshall, which put him into instant title contention pretty much. From what Iíve seen of McKenzie heís a pretty solid b-level guy, with an a-level look thanks to his crazy Mohawk. Cantwell meanwhile had bounced back from a loss to Brian Stann with a win over Justin McElfresh on the last WEC show. Physically Cantwell looks quite a bit larger than McKenzie, whoís a more chubby 205lbs.

McKenzie looks to strike early on, landing an inside leg kick and following with a one-two. Another leg kick lands for McKenzie but Cantwell appears to stun him with a left high kick and then closes the distance into a clinch. They muscle for position and then Cantwell trips McKenzie down to guard. McKenzie shows good head control from his back though, landing some sweet elbows to the head. Cantwell chooses to bring it back to standing, and a BIG head kick and a flurry of punches hurts McKenzie badly. Cantwell grabs him to deliver some knees, putting McKenzie down, and he pounces and looks to pound for the stoppage. McKenzie secures guard, but itís a loose one and Cantwell easily passes to side mount, knee on belly, and finally full mount. McKenzie eats punches and then gives his back, and Cantwell quickly locks up a rear naked choke for the tapout.

Cantwell pretty much tooled McKenzie there, which is impressive as McKenzieís a solid veteran and for a guy who was only 20 at the time to run through him like that is good going. Short fight, but fun for what it was.

-Craig Hummer (havenít seen him since UFC 55!) talks to Jens Pulver about his upcoming title fight with Urijah Faber, and Pulver puts Faber over as explosive and tough, but says he wants the title more than anything and heís coming with boxing, on the ground, and even kicks. Pulver really is an awesome promo guy.

Lightweight Fight: Marcus Hicks vs Ed Ratcliff

Announcers actually try to sell this as a possible #1 Contenderís match, which, no offense to either guy, goes to show how shallow the WEC Lightweight pool is. Well, all the good fighters are in UFC or in Japan so hey. Hicks was unbeaten at this stage with his last two WEC wins coming by guillotine choke, but he hadnít beaten anyone of note really, while Ratcliff was also unbeaten and was coming off a win over Alex Karalexis. Hicks is mad short and stocky, befitting of his ĎWrecking Ballí nickname.

They circle to begin and throw some punches, and Hicks lands first, stunning Ratcliff with a left that puts him down. Hicks closes in and grabs a guillotine as Ratcliff stands, jumping into it for good measure. Ratcliff slips his head free but Hicks nails him with a HUGE UPPERCUT that sends him back down. Ratcliff tries a single leg, but gets caught with the guillotine again, only to slip his head free once more. He looks for some ground and pound now, but Hicks reverses to his feet in a clinch and lands a heavy body punch. Ratcliff looks in deep trouble as Hicks cracks him with an overhand right and closes the distance, going for a takedown. Takedown from Hicks and he clamps on the guillotine for the third time, and this time itís enough for the finish.

Another squash match as Hicks never let Ratcliff get out of the gate, overwhelming him with strikes before finishing him off with a tight guillotine. Another fun little fight but both men were pretty unproven so itís hardly earth-shattering or anything.

Lightweight Fight: Rich Crunkilton vs Sergio Gomez

This was a prelim taped earlier in the night. Crunkilton was looking to rebuild from his disappointing loss to Rob McCullough, while to be quite honest I know nothing about Gomez.

We begin and Gomez comes forward, but Crunkilton takes him down pretty immediately and goes into half-guard. He works to pass, landing a couple of elbows, and works free of the guard, but Gomez uses an underhook to escape to his feet. They muscle for position in the clinch and Crunkilton forces him into the cage. Couple of nice inside elbows open a cut on Gomezís head. High single from Crunkilton puts Gomez on his back again and he passes, looking to take the back. Gomez sits up but gets caught in a deep DíArce choke, and Crunkilton looks to finish, but Gomez slips free and escapes to his feet. Combo from Gomez lands and after a high kick attempt from Crunkilton is deflected, he lands another combo that hurts Crunkilton. Crunkilton goes back for the takedown though and gets another single to half-guard. Elbows land for Crunkilton and he blocks a reversal, but again Gomez escapes to his feet into the clinch. Lot of blood coming from Gomezís head now. Gomez breaks with some dirty boxing and catches a body kick, landing some punches, but Crunkilton comes back with a tackle down to the ground, where he looks for another DíArce before the round ends. Good round. 10-9 Crunkilton.

Into the 2nd and Gomez lands a combo, so Crunkilton goes for the high single again. Gomez counters with some punches, but Rich trips him down to guard and begins to work from there again. This time he works to take the back, getting one hook in, but Gomez uses the cage to scramble free. Guillotine by Gomez but Crunkilton lifts him for a bodyslam and escapes into the half-guard. Elbows again from Crunkilton, but Herb Dean warns him for hitting the back of the head. Crunkilton does an odd step-over and then transitions into a kneebar, but Gomez does an excellent job of defending and rains down some punches. He gets the Hughes crucifix from the position but Crunkilton scrambles free to avoid damage and gets back on top, grabbing the DíArce again. Gomez slips free again but ends up being tackled to his back once more, back in half-guard. Crunkilton works to pass, but Gomez does a good job with his guard until he tries an armbar, which Crunkilton uses to pass and take the back. Gomez manages to get back to half-guard, but Crunkilton passes again right before the buzzer. This is a really good fight actually.

Third and final round and I have Crunkilton up 20-18. Exchange of strikes to begin the round and Gomez gets the better of it, but Crunkilton shoots on a double leg and gets him down to guard again. He passes to half-guard and tries to pass again, working to side mount. Gomez turns and gives his back almost, but then uses a kimura to avoid it. Crunkilton puts him on his back again though, in the half-guard. Punches and elbows land for Crunkilton but things slow down and so Herb Dean stands them up. Combo from Gomez hurts Rich, but he canít stop the takedown and Crunkilton gets him back down. Both men are looking tired now. Crunkilton grinds away from the top, managing to keep Gomez grounded for the remainder of the fight.

Iíve got Crunkilton taking this 30-27 and the judges agree, unanimous decision for Crunkilton. Fight was really good though, as both men worked hard throughout, and although he couldnít stop the takedown and was always on the defensive on the ground, Gomez acquitted himself well by hanging in there for three rounds with a well-regarded UFC veteran.

-Craig Hummer catches Urijah Faber in the crowd for an interview and Faber tells him that heís been watching Pulver since he was in high school, and heís the most dangerous fighter heís faced yet, but heíll still be walking out with the belt. They built this fight tremendously as it goes, especially for a free TV deal.

Middleweight Fight: Chael Sonnen vs Bryan Baker

As I mentioned earlier, Baker stepped in when Paulo Filho was sidelined with his personal problems, and he was carrying an unbeaten record at this point too. Problem for Baker though was that heís a wrestling-based guy and well, you donít get many better wrestlers in MMA than Chael Sonnen. I mean sure if youíre a good BJJ guy youíll always have a good chance against him, but other than that Sonnen is a difficult guy to face. Baker makes his entrance wearing a gladiator mask, which is always cool. Side note, Mirís voice has suddenly gone from normal in the Hicks-Ratcliff match to gruff as hell, like he needs a good cough. What, did he smoke ten cigars while they aired the Crunkilton fight or something?

We begin and Sonnen gets a beautiful double leg into a slam right off the bat. Into side mount, and he immediately works some knees to the body, pretty heavy stuff. Sonnen gets full mount, but itís an odd position as heís actually mounted below Bakerís knees, with Baker seated up against the cage. Baker turns and eats some punches before Sonnen grabs a front facelock. He tries to lock up a DíArce, but Baker shows some power and manages to muscle his way to his feet, only to eat a knee on the way out. Baker swings for the fences, but Sonnen is having none of that and he lands another knee strike before easily double legging Baker down, just driving right through the guy. Tremendous wrestling. Baker turns his back and stands, but Sonnen still has ahold of him and knees the legs. HUGE GERMAN SUPLEX drops Baker on the back of his neck and shoulder and they land in north/south where Baker goes into what Joe Rogan would call the donkey guard. Baker tries to go for a reverse triangle, but he decides to abandon it as Sonnen lands some punches to the head. Baker goes to full guard now, but he takes some hard shots from Chael from the top. Baker must have a hell of a chin as heís taking some brutal shots here. Round ends with Sonnen pounding Baker from the guard. Probably a 10-8 round I would say as Baker got absolutely dominated.

Sonnen shoots a double to open the second and takes Baker down again with relative ease. He lands in half-guard but Baker manages to get full guard back, not that it helped him in the first round. Big punches land for Sonnen again, this time with Baker pressed up against the fence. Baker keeps trying for armbars and triangles but thereís just no control and Sonnen just postures out and keeps on landing shots. Some huge punches land with very little defense, and Baker is just eating punch after punch. Bakerís cut now and really although heís not close to being out, the ref ought to consider stopping this as heís offering nothing to Sonnen. Sonnen forces his way into side control and then looks for a straight armlock, but ends up giving it up and just pounding away. 10-8 for Sonnen again.
Third and final round now, and Sonnen catches a kick and gets the easy takedown. He passes to side mount right away and goes to the Hughes crucifix, where he lands some chopping punches, not enough to stop the fight though. Announcers are already talking about Sonnen-Filho because this fight is pretty much a done deal. He passes into north/south now Back to side mount and itís more punishment for Baker, and then it looks like Sonnenís setting up for a DíArce choke. Baker desperately tries to roll for a kneebar, going for anything at this point, but ends up giving his back and taking more abuse. Baker manages to roll back to guard, and goes desperately for an armbar, but Paulo Filho heís not and Sonnen pulls out and drops back into side mount. Sonnen stands over him to end and drops some heavy blows down, and it even looks like referee Steve Mazzagatti is considering stopping it (!), but the buzzer sounds.

Iíve got this as 30-24 for Sonnen personally but for the judges to not give 10-8ís wouldnít surprise me, but really who cares, itís not like it makes a difference. Judges have it 30-26, 30-25 and 30-25 for Sonnen, duh. Total mismatch here Ė I mean Baker is a solid young prospect and was game, but Sonnen just owned him throughout, showing some very impressive wrestling and ground-and-pound for the full fifteen minutes. Baker clearly had a good chin too as some of those shots wouldíve stopped lesser fighters. One of the most one-sided fights Iíve ever seen.

WEC World Light-Heavyweight Title: Brian Stann vs Doug Marshall

Former Marine and genuine war hero Stann had been pushed as a poster-boy for the WEC from his debut and really it was only a matter of time before he was given a title shot in the threadbare WEC Light-Heavyweight division. With both menís penchant for wild brawling (despite Marshall showing some surprising ground skill at times) this was expected to be a slugfest, and despite the experience difference, in a slugfest I was giving the advantage to Stann.

Touch of gloves to begin and Stann comes stalking forward with a jab and a low kick. Marshall comes back with a pair of low kicks of his own, and then takes a right hand from Stann. Exchange continues and Stann looks stiff, but lands a nice left jab regardless. Good leg kick by Marshall, but Stann answers with a right hand and then they clinch up with Marshall looking to grab the plum clinch. They exchange from close quarters and then Marshall suddenly breaks off and UNLOADS with a combo that has Stann covering up, but Stann takes it LIKE A MAN and counters with a HUGE LEFT HOOK that knocks Marshall into next week and finishes with some elbows! Awesome finish.

Stann gets pretty emotional post-fight which is understandable Ė six fights into his career and he was holding the title in the second-biggest promotion in North America, after all.

Fight was basically exactly how you would expect Brian Stann vs. Doug Marshall to go down Ė two big dudes swinging punches at one another until one connected cleanly. Stann ended up landing the big shot first and that was that. In a way itís a pity that WEC ended up dissolving the LHW division as it was perfect for a guy like Stann to hone his skills without being killed by the sharks that are in the UFCís 205lbs division, but as it is it looks like this might end up being the apex of his MMA career, as no offense to him, but if you canít beat Krysztof Soszynski, youíre probably not going to be getting close to the UFC title any time soon.

-Show ends with another plug for Faber vs. Pulver in June.

Final Thoughts....

This was the lone blip in a great year for the WEC, as outside of Crunkilton-Gomez Ė which gets Fight of the Night honours here but wouldnít have come close on pretty much any other WEC show Ė it was filled with squashes for the most part, the majority of which (Sonnen-Baker, Hicks-Ratcliff) were pointless in the long run. Itís not an offensively bad show or anything like that, I mean nothing outright stinks and the finishes are fun, but itís a total b-level show at best when compared to the WECís usual stuff Ė like getting served a greasy beefburger when youíve expected steak. Thumbs down.

Best Fight: Crunkilton-Gomez
Worst Fight: Sonnen-Baker

Overall Rating: *3/4

Coming Soon....

UFC: 86-96, Fight Nights 14-17, and TUF VIII Finale.
Pride: Shockwave 2005, Shockwave 2006, and the Openweight Grand Prix.
WEC: 34-40.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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