WEC 35: Condit vs. Miura review
by Scott Newman(MMA)
Posted on June 15, 2009, 4:00 PM
WEC 35: Condit vs. Miura
Las Vegas, Nevada
-Your hosts are Todd Harris and Frank Mir. They discuss the three title fights that we’ve got on this card, which when you think about it is a bit risky as you could have three twenty-five minute matches.
Interesting Bantamweight clash to start us off then, with the unbeaten youngster Bowles, who was coming off the surprising KO of Marcos Galvao, taking on the Greg Jackson-trained Page, who had won his WEC debut in February and had fought the majority of his career at 145lbs. War of nicknames goes to Page – ‘The Angel Of Death’ although it wasn’t hard as Bowles doesn’t have a nickname.
They get started and both men come out swinging some bombs that miss. Page slips on a body kick and Bowles drops a right hand into his guard, and they exchange from that position with punches and elbows. Page looks to use the cage to stand, and then Bowles looks like he’s locking up a guillotine, but Page works his way free and ends up on top in Bowles’ guard. Page works to pass the guard and then decides to stand free. They exchange punches now with both men landing blows, and Bowles clips him with a combo that causes Page to stick his tongue out to taunt his opponent. Exchange continues and Page lands a leg kick and a combo. Bowles shoots in for a takedown but Page blocks it and clinches, and then looks for a takedown of his own. He lifts Bowles up for a slam but Bowles sinks in a guillotine at the same time, and it looks TIGHT! Page tries to slam Bowles but can’t manage it, and then he simply falls to his back and the ref steps in as the Jackson-trained fighter basically goes out.
Beautiful submission; that was as tight a guillotine as I can remember seeing in the cage. Bowles is a well-rounded guy for sure and this was a good win for him. Pretty explosive opener with a really slick ending.
Hicks had earned this title opportunity by winning three on the bounce in WEC action – all by guillotine choke – and he was 8-0, but really, very few people expected him to beat the extremely tough Jamie Varner and this being a title match showed just how thin the WEC Lightweight division was (and still is, really). Still, I’m a fan of Varner’s so I was looking forward to a good win for him. Size difference is alarming as Varner looks to be much taller than Hicks.
First round begins and Varner throws out some strikes before Hicks clinches. Varner forces him into the cage and lands some knees to the body but Hicks catches one and slams him to the ground. Jamie pops up immediately and then manages to hook on his trademark guillotine and gives it a real good squeeze, but he can’t tap Varner and the champ manages to escape and backs up. Hicks comes forward into the clinch again and gets a pro-wrestling style bodyslam, hooking the leg and everything, but again Varner pops right back to his feet. Hicks continues to look for the single leg, but Varner breaks off and throws a body kick before grabbing the plum and landing a pair of vicious knees. Hicks looks for a single leg, but he’s clearly hurt and Varner blocks it and then lands another knee. Hicks begins to back up now and Varner takes over, landing clean punches on the button that have the challenger stunned. Hicks goes down off the punishment and this fight is DONE, but referee Steve Mazzagatti (!) criminally decides to let it continue. Varner bombs away at the head as Hicks somehow comes round and tries to get to his feet, and sure enough he comes up like a zombie and Varner lands some more punches before grabbing the head for more knees. Two HUGE KNEES land flush and then Varner just whales at him with a right hand, and finally a HUGE RIGHT drops Hicks to the mat and Mazzagatti FINALLY stops it there. Jesus Christ.
Well, first off the stoppage was disgusting. Possibly the worst stoppage I’ve ever seen in modern US MMA in fact. I mean, Varner dropped Hicks and the guy was clearly out of it and had zero chance of coming back into the fight, and yet Mazzagatti allowed Varner to basically knock him back into consciousness before smashing him and knocking him out again. It’s that sort of thing that could end a career or leave a fighter badly injured, and Hicks was lucky he wasn’t more seriously hurt. Shameful, shameful performance from Mazzagatti but at this stage it’s nothing unusual.
As for the fight itself, Varner looked fantastic, getting out of one tough spot in the guillotine before just going to town with some brutal striking. The knees Varner was throwing here were incredible and his accuracy with the punches was very impressive too. I never bought Hicks as on the same level as Varner and my intuition proved to be right, but this was still a great win for the champion.
The battle of guys who fell victim to Carlos Condit then, as Larson had been submitted with an armbar in August ’07 while Prater had fallen prey to a guillotine choke in February ’08. Winner is being pushed as likely the next contender for Condit which again shows how thin the WEC roster was as you shouldn’t really end up with rematches that quickly, although both men had won two fights since their loss to the champ. Based on sheer power I was giving an advantage to Larson.
We’re underway and they press forward, looking to gauge the distance, before Prater misses with a head kick. Suddenly Larson lands with a BIG LEFT HAND from nowhere that knocks Prater down, and a few punches on the ground finish things off! WOW.
Man, that was some serious power from Larson. Replay shows the punch went right through the middle of Prater’s guard and landed on the button, knocking him silly. Larson is a guy I think a lot of people – myself included – underrate a bit, especially when you consider the guy only has two losses, to Jon Fitch and Carlos Condit. He could well be a contender at WW and is definitely a guy to watch at 170lbs in the UFC these days.
-They run a cool video to advertise the upcoming WEC 36 card, with Urijah Faber defending his Featherweight Title against Mike Brown, along with the rematch between Paulo Filho and Chael Sonnen for the Middleweight Title. Harris then interviews Faber and he puts over Mike Brown as a tough opponent who he’ll look to impose his will on. They’re talking about it being next month (September) here but due to Hurricane Ike they ended up postponing it until November instead.
Stann had KOd Doug Marshall to claim the title in March, but his opponent Cantwell was a man he’d already beaten en route to his title opportunity, and with ‘The Robot’ only having won two fights after being stopped by Stann, again it shows the lack of roster depth for the company, particularly at the higher weights. Apparently their first fight was a good slugfest though so there were some hopes for an exciting one here. Cantwell looks MAD INTENSE in the staredown, too.
Round One begins and they circle and exchange strikes. These guys are throwing down HARD but neither’s landed cleanly yet. Left hook from Cantwell tags him and the challenger wades in looking to finish, but Stann fires right back and it turns into a wild trade! Cantwell ends up forcing him into the cage in a clinch, and looks for the takedown, but Stann stuffs it and they break off. They exchange punches again and then go into another wild trade, with both men getting tagged. It’s looking like a case of whichever guy lands the shot on the button first is going to win this one. Cantwell ends up clinching again and they muscle for position before Stann takes a knee and breaks with a right hand. They exchange leg kicks and then go back to trading punches, but Cantwell slips on a superman punch and Stann drops some BOMBS down into his guard. Cantwell turtles and uses it to stand, but Stann gets an over/under and slugs away at the head. Cantwell turns into him and the round ends in the clinch. Well, that was quite the brawl.
Second round and Cantwell takes a leg kick and comes back with an odd hopping body kick. Crowd are chanting for Cantwell now but he takes a low blow and referee Herb Dean calls time momentarily. They restart and Cantwell counters a leg kick with a one-two. Cantwell begins to land more combinations now as Stann simply throws out the big right hand. Beautiful left hook to the body hurts the champion and Cantwell follows with a high kick and a right hook to the head. They clinch and Cantwell presses him into the cage, but they break pretty quickly. They begin to trade off with punches again and both men look somewhat tired now. Into the clinch again and they exchange knees before Cantwell looks for the takedown. BIG FLURRY along the cage lands for Cantwell as he goes to the head and body, causing Stann to cover up and swing wildly back. Head kick for Cantwell and another combo have Stann wobbled badly now, and the Marine is also looking exhausted. More shots land for Cantwell and he looks to hit him with some knees too as Stann still attempts to fire right back, looking to land the haymaker. Cantwell keeps pouring it on though and finally a HUGE RIGHT HOOK drops Stann face-first and the ref stops it there.
That was one hell of a brawl as they traded strikes from start to finish between the short periods of clinching, but in the end the difference was Cantwell’s more versatile striking game, as he landed hooks to the body, kicks, knees, etc while Stann just seemed to be looking to land the big right haymaker and never did. Excellent showing for Cantwell to avenge the earlier defeat and take the title, and at just 22 years old he could be one to watch in the future.
Two young guns in the FW division in this prelim, with Miller – the younger brother of the UFC’s Cole – taking on Grispi, who had upset the much more experienced Mark Hominick with a rear naked choke in his WEC debut. Incredibly Grispi was only 19 here, too. Not that Miller, at 21 has much of an age advantage himself. If it’s even an advantage that is!
Fight begins and Grispi comes out throwing leg kicks, catching Miller off guard with one to the inside leg that causes him to tumble to the mat. Grispi kicks the legs with Miller in the crab position, and then lets him up, landing another leg kick and narrowly missing a high kick as Miller throws out a combo. Grispi continues to land some nice leg kicks, going inside and outside, and then Miller closes in but gets DROPPED with a HUGE RIGHT TO THE TEMPLE! Miller is FOLDED, Grispi lands some punches for good measure and Herb Dean stops it there.
Post-fight Miller tries to claim an early stoppage but there’s no way, he was absolutely gone after the first punch and the other ones looked to have brought him back around. The Mazz might’ve let it go on but Herb Dean is a better referee than that so hey. Great win for Grispi in a short and explosive fight.
Condit at this stage had beaten basically everyone WEC had offered him, from John Alessio to Brock Larson to Carlo Prater, and here he was faced with Japanese fighter Hiromitsu Miura, who had originally begun his WEC career at 185lbs with an entertaining loss to Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller. Since dropping to 170lbs he’d won two fights on the bounce, but online fans were already talking about Condit against the UFC’s top fighters and so this was a somewhat disappointing bout on paper for the ‘Natural Born Killer’. Pre-fight introductions are dope as Condit is the king of the mean mugging, even better than Diego Sanchez!
First round begins and it looks like Condit wants to strike as he keeps his distance, throwing out kicks. Good one-two from Miura and they begin to trade kicks with Condit landing a nice one to the body. Good combo from Condit and he blocks a judo throw. Front kick and a knee to the midsection land for Condit but he gets caught on the way out with a counter left hook. Condit gets the plum clinch and looks to deliver knees, only for Miura to hit him with a BIG JUDO THROW right into side mount! Miura controls him momentarily but Condit spins back to guard and then escapes to his feet. Condit pushes forward but Miura catches him with a beautiful shove/leg sweep combo that puts him on the mat again. He pops up right away though. Big right hand lands for Condit and he closes in to land knees but Miura throws him again! Condit pops up once more though and they exchange some punches with Condit landing a right. Good left kick to the body from Condit and then a right hand clips the Japanese challenger and puts him down! Condit gets knee to the belly and looks to finish, landing elbows before setting up for an armbar, but rather than go for it the champ just drops some nasty short elbows to the head. Condit traps the leg in a sort of half-Hughes crucifix position and continues to drop shots to the head, and then moves to side mount proper. Condit tries for the far-side armbar but Miura slips free and stands. They trade into the clinch and Miura gets another sweet throw, dumping Condit onto his back by the fence! Condit gets full guard though and goes for a guillotine, but Miura slips free as the horn sounds. Awesome opening round. I’d probably score it for Condit based on the damage he did with the strikes, despite taking like four throws.
Into the 2nd and Condit lands a nice front kick and follows with a left kick to the body. Combo finishing with a left to the body puts Miura down but it looked more like a slip to me. Condit goes down into the guard anyway and grinds with his elbow before standing out of an armbar attempt. Good upkick from Miura but Condit works a guard pass nicely into side mount momentarily before Miura gets butterfly guard. Condit passes again to half-guard and then grinds with the elbow while working to free his leg. Miura does a good job of locking down on the leg but Condit keeps working the position and eventually slides into full mount. Miura looks in trouble now as Condit bombs on him with elbows and punches, and then as Miura tries to give his back Condit goes for an armbar. It looks tight but Miura manages to roll and pull his arm free into Condit’s guard! Nice. Action slows a little and referee Josh Rosenthal stands them up, and Condit presses with strikes into the clinch. Miura tries the throw again but this time Condit blocks and takes the back with an over/under. The champ tries to get the hooks in but Miura rolls to guard, and the round ends shortly after. This is shaping up to be quite the fight. I have Condit ahead now 20-18.
Third round and they circle and miss some early strikes before Miura clips him with a right hand. Condit shoots for a takedown but Miura blocks and looks for the throw, but as he turns his hips Condit hops onto his back! Condit only has one hook in though and ends up spinning and trying a guillotine, getting top position for good measure, but he ends up relinquishing it and taking full mount instead. Elbows drop for Condit and it looks like he’s setting up for an armbar, but Miura gets a nice reversal, rolling into Condit’s guard. Both men look tired as hell now, understandably as this has been a torrid pace. Miura opens up with some heavy punches from the top, looking like he’s stunned Condit a little, as the champion works a body triangle from the bottom. Condit manages to explode to his feet and they trade shots with Condit landing a big knee! Miura ends up on his back again, looked like another slip, and now Condit has side control on him with a possible top side triangle. He ends up taking the mount and landing some heavy shots, and with less than a minute remaining Rosenthal is considering stopping it. Miura turns his back though and so Condit goes for the rear naked choke instead, but he can’t lock it up and somehow the challenger survives the round!
We’re into the fourth round now, which is uncharted territory for the Natural Born Killer thus far into his WEC career. Condit pushes forward, but gets caught by three BIG RIGHTS from Miura that stun him badly! Condit tries to fire back but finds himself thrown to the mat, and then he shoots desperately for a double leg and manages to get the Japanese fighter down. Condit goes for a guillotine as Miura sits up, and then uses it to attempt mount, but Miura reverses him over into half-guard. Miura begins to land some heavy strikes, but Condit rolls and goes for a heel hook! Miura looks calm though and manages to escape back into Condit’s guard. This fight RULES. Referee brings them up as Condit slows the action with a body triangle from the guard. Both men look GASSED now but still manage to trade wild punches before Condit just tackles Miura to the ground. Easy pass to mount follows as Miura looks spent. Elbows from Condit mark up Miura’s already badly bruised face, but he slows down a little due to fatigue and Miura manages to reverse over to Condit’s guard. Flurry from Miura follows as he lands some power shots with both hands, but Condit guts it out and manages to hold on and slow things up. Miura opens up with another flurry from the guard and then stands, but Condit pops to his feet and counters a right hand with a BIG KNEE that drops the challenger face-first! Miura clings to a leg, but Condit lands a series of unanswered punches to the head and with 16 seconds on the clock Josh Rosenthal stops the fight!
Post-fight Condit raises his arms in celebration before collapsing to his knees; that was one hell of a war in the end and both men put everything into it until the tank was empty. Finish looked somewhat weak but Miura had nothing left to defend with and would’ve continued to eat unanswered shots, so it was hardly an early stoppage or anything.
Another show, another high-end FOTYC from the WEC. This wasn’t quite as good as Torres-Maeda from the previous show I don’t think as both men were pretty exhausted by the fourth round, but it was still one hell of a fight. Miura surprised me a lot by pushing Condit further than Larson, Prater et al had been able to, but in the end he just didn’t quite have enough to put Condit away and the Natural Born Killer’s will pulled him through to retain the title. The fight did show some holes in Condit’s game – namely physical strength and his wrestling game – that worry me for when he ends up fighting the larger 170lbs fighters in the UFC (Koscheck, Fitch, GSP etc) but nobody can deny he’s a great fighter who puts on an awesome show every time he steps into the cage. Great main event.
-Quick recap of each round of the main event follows, and then we roll the highlight reel.
While none of the fights on this show quite match up to Torres-Maeda or Faber-Pulver from WEC 34, overall I actually thought this was the better show, as we got some incredible highlight-reel stuff like Varner-Hicks, Larson-Prater and Grispi-Miller, as well as an unbelievable, FOTYC-level main event between Condit and Miura and another solid brawl in Stann-Cantwell. The card admittedly wasn’t that good on paper and did show a few of the weaknesses in the WEC roster (mainly in the upper weight classes which they ended up fixing anyway) but when it came down to it, damn was this a great show. Easily one of the best shows of 2008 and I’d probably argue that it was the best WEC show of the year overall. Thumbs way up for this one.
Best Fight: Condit-Miura
Worst Fight: Bowles-Page
Overall Rating: ****1/2
UFC: 94-98, Fight Nights 17-18, and TUF VIII Finale.
Pride: Shockwave 2006, 31, Bushido 12-13 and the Openweight Grand Prix.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.