WEC 43: Cerrone vs. Henderson review
by Scott Newman(MMA)
Posted on November 2, 2009, 7:05 AM
WEC 43: Cerrone vs. Henderson
San Antonio, Texas
-Bit of an odd situation with this show as it was originally scheduled for September 2nd, but after headliner Ben Henderson was injured and required eye surgery, they postponed it until 10/10. That’s not odd in itself, except originally the show was meant to take place in Youngstown, Ohio. No idea whether shitty ticket sales warranted the move or what.
-Your hosts are Todd Harris and Frank Mir. They discuss the reasons behind the Cerrone-Henderson Interim Title match (more on that later) and then run down the rest of the card.
-The show is apparently being brought to us by Saw VI. They REALLY managed to make SIX films out of that franchise? Good lord. That’s a scarier thought than well, anything in any of the Saw movies.
Man, with a nickname like the ‘Angel Of Death’ and a brutal knockout in his last fight against Marcos Galvao, what’s not to love about Damacio Page? This was his fourth appearance in the WEC cage, this time faced with the debuting Will Campuzano, who was undefeated at 6-0 thus far in his career.
Round One gets started and both men come out SWINGING right away, with Page throwing absolute BOMBS. Suddenly though he ducks and hits a double leg, taking Campuzano down. Will gets full guard and goes for a triangle, but Page passes to half-guard momentarily. Campuzano tries the triangle again, but Page slips free for a second time and transitions to take the back with both hooks. Campuzano defends the choke initially, but on a second attempt Page gets it sunk and the newcomer taps out.
Quick and explosive win for Damacio Page who I’m liking more and more every time I see him. The guy is just unbelievably aggressive and brings an exciting fight every time. Recent news has him being matched with Takeya Mizugaki next, which should bring fireworks and hopefully throw up a possible title contender.
-Todd Harris interviews WEC Featherweight Champion Mike Brown, who says he’s looking forward to fighting Jose Aldo, who he says has great striking and BJJ, but he’s looking to use his “old man strength” to get him down and work him over with his wrestling game. Brown is an odd one as he’s got such a quiet charisma, obviously not in the same league as say, Urijah Faber, but I can see him becoming a popular guy if he keeps killing people dead like he has been. As it goes though I’m picking Aldo, so hey.
Perennial top-ten contender Assuncao was looking to cement his position in the WEC’s most competitive division here, throwing his name into the hat of title contenders, but he was faced with an interesting challenge in one of George St-Pierre’s training partners, striker Jabouin, who’s actually been fighting since 2001. His last win had come by spinning back kick, too, so you know he means business!
Urijah Faber is joining us on commentary for this one, I’m guessing because it’s two Featherweight contenders and he needs to size up the possible opposition. And of course with him on board the charisma level suddenly goes up like 100x. Love the California Kid.
We begin and they circle around and throw out some feeler strikes, with Raphael landing the first meaningful shot in a short right hook. Good left hand from Jabouin to counter a low kick. Jabouin looks lighter on his feet and appears to be the more natural striker, but it’s largely an even exchange thus far. Crowd begin to get restless before Jabouin catches a body kick and Assuncao decides to jump to guard. Jabouin stays inside the guard for a moment before choosing to get back to his feet. Jabouin is throwing some serious leather here even if he’s not landed cleanly yet. Good combo and a left hook from Raphael and he shoots, but Jabouin hits a sick sprawl and forces him to pull guard again. Assuncao’s looking to set up a triangle from his back here it looks like, and he’s doing a good job of controlling Jabouin. Yves decides to get out and stand again though, and this time Raphael hits him with a body kick. Combination from Jabouin and he almost gets taken down, but he manages to hop on one leg to avoid. Superman punch lands for Jabouin. Spinning back kick misses and Assuncao lands a right to the body and then clinches, but Jabouin forces him into the fence. They muscle for position in the clinch, and the round ends as Raphael breaks off with a knee. Close round to call actually. I’d probably lean to Assuncao by a hair.
Second round and they exchange some punches standing with Jabouin continuing to bounce around on the outside while Assuncao plays the aggressor. Striking exchange continues with both men landing some heavy kicks to the legs and body. Nice combination from Raphael but Jabouin fires right back and lands a spinning kick to the body. Crowd sound a little restless but I have no idea why as they’re fighting pretty hard. Low kick drops Jabouin momentarily but he pops back up. Good body kick from Jabouin. Spinning kick to the body looks to have Assuncao hurt and he clinches up to recover. They break off and now Raphael clocks him with a one-two, but Jabouin’s landing some good kicks to the body now. Assuncao clinches again and forces him back to the fence, but Yves breaks off quickly. Assunco continues to stalk him and he lands a combo before looking for the takedown, but Jabouin stuffs it again and almost gets on top. He gives his neck for a guillotine though and Assuncao pulls guard and looks to finish, but he can’t quite get it locked up, despite getting top position, and Yves pops his head free practically on the buzzer.
Third and final round and they’re looking to exchange again, and this time Assuncao drops him with a glancing right/low kick combo. Right hand lands again for Raphael and Jabouin clinches, and this time Assuncao drops and gets a single leg to get him down. Jabouin tries to get up, but gives his back in the process and Assuncao appears to have one hook in. Second hook is in now and he flattens Yves out, but Jabouin does a good job of defending the choke, using his legs on the fence to try to reverse out. It looks like Raphael’s got the choke sunk for a second, but Jabouin avoids it and continues to defend. Jabouin manages to turn into him and stands, but eats a knee on the way out. Right hand from Assuncao lands cleanly but Yves keeps coming forward now, probably recognizing that he needs a finish to win now. Spinning back kick misses wildly for him. Big spinning backfist lands for Jabouin but Raphael eats it right up! Great chin from him. They clinch again with seconds remaining and now Assuncao takes the back again, but he can’t get his hooks in and the fight comes to a conclusion.
Judges score it 30-27 Assuncao, 30-27 Jabouin (!) and 29-28 for Raphael Assuncao to take the split decision. NO idea what the judge who scored it for Jabouin was smoking, as while you could’ve argued for him taking the first round (and in fact Mir and Faber did), how you could give him the second and particularly the third is beyond me. Still, he acquitted himself well and probably earned himself another opportunity in the WEC. Assuncao picked up another strong win here and he’ll get his big chance to shine in 2010 as he’s signed to be Faber’s next opponent in a fight that should guarantee fireworks.
This was a prelim from earlier in the night, garnering the rage of hardcore fans across the globe at the fact that Fabiano – ranked as highly as #3 in many people’s eyes – was on the untelevised card again. I like Wagnney but it’s probably a mix of a dull (to most) fight with Tamura in his debut and the fact that his buddy is the #1 contender that’s kept him off TV. Anyway, originally he was supposed to face well, I can’t remember, but Miguel Torres training partner ‘Mack Da Menace’ stepped in on late notice. On paper he was a sacrificial lamb, too, as with a record of just 3-0 it’s probably not a good idea to take on a guy like Fabiano.
We begin and they circle around before Wagnney lands a right hand and goes for a double leg. Mackens tries to sprawl out, but he’s stuck against the cage and winds up on his back in a butterfly guard. Fabiano quickly passes into half-guard, and looks to pass that, but as he tries to posture up he winds up dropping back into the guard where Mack gets a triangle choke locked up! Holy shit. It looks tight and Mack pulls down on the head, and FABIANO TAPS!
WOW. That has to be the upset of the year in my book. I mean, not only did a 3-0 guy just beat the #3 ranked 145lber in the world, but the way he did it was insane. If Mack had come out and flash KOd Wagnney, well, it’s still an upset but those things happen in MMA, but to tap him from guard with a triangle – and bear in mind, Fabiano is one of the top BJJ guys in all of MMA, training out of Nova Uniao with Shaolin, Leites, etc – is unbelievable. The best I can compare it to is probably Kevin Burns-Roan Carneiro, but then again Wagnney was far more established in MMA than Carneiro so it’s even bigger than that. Hopefully Fabiano will bounce back from this as there were shitty rumors about him retiring flying around, and hey, I guess the FW division just got a new contender in Mack Da Menace.
Jansen had a record of 12-0 coming into this and it’s surprising he hadn’t been picked up by one of the bigger shows before actually. Although I guess with the Zuffa promotions and Strike Force being the only games in town in the US these days following the Pro-Elite crash, more guys are building solid records before they move up. Veteran Crunkilton, meanwhile, was looking to build on his last WEC victory that had come well over a year beforehand at WEC 33. Jansen’s nickname is THE FUGITIVE. AWESOME.
First round gets underway and Crunkilton lands some nice combos early before shooting, but Jansen stuffs it and comes back to his feet. They exchange strikes and Jansen clinches and forces him into the cage, where they muscle for position before Crunkilton gets him down. Jansen pops back up immediately though, but Crunkilton uses a bodylock to get him down. Switch from Jansen lets him go for a single leg, and they come back up where Jansen gets a rear waistlock and drags him down. Crunkilton tries to stand, but gets dragged back down and now Jansen settles into half-guard where he drops some elbows. Crunkilton turns for a kneebar, but Jansen manages to work free and continues to control him from half-guard. Heel hook attempt from Crunkilton now but Jansen pops out and gets into side mount. Crunkilton almost gets a D’Arce choke from the bottom, but Jansen escapes and then he goes for a north/south choke, but he releases and switches back to side mount. Good job from Crunkilton at turning back to full guard, but he takes a couple of hammer fists in doing so and then Jansen postures up to drop some good shots. Crunkilton rolls and Jansen takes the back with no hooks, looking to get a choke, but Crunkilton slips free and reverses to his feet. Beautiful combo wobbles Jansen badly and he tries a takedown, but Rich stuffs it to end the round. Really good opener.
Second round and Jansen opens by landing a right hand. Body kick from Crunkilton but Jansen catches it and gets the takedown to half-guard. Jansen goes for mount, but Crunkilton works to get a butterfly guard back in. Sweep from Crunkilton allows him to his feet, but he takes a knee to the groin and Jansen tackles him to the ground. Ref calls time for the low blow and Rich recovers. They restart and Jansen comes forward aggressively and both men trade strikes. Crunkilton’s looking a little tired now, but he lands a knee that knocks the mouthpiece out before Jansen gets a takedown and transitions to take the back. He’s got one hook in, but Crunkilton prevents him from getting the second and now he’s looking for a takedown of his own. Jansen reverses though and gets a double leg to guard. Jansen drops some strikes from the top but the ref calls time and puts the mouthpiece back in, before restarting them standing. Don’t get that as Jansen was busy. Good liver kick from Crunkilton and he stuffs a takedown attempt. He lands another, but Jansen comes back with a knee to the body and then a double leg, turning the corner to force Rich to the ground. The referee now disgusts Mir by warning them for inactivity literally as soon as they hit the ground. Round ends before he can interfere, thank God!
Third round now and Crunkilton opens with the liver kick and a left hook to the body, causing Jansen to drop for the takedown which Crunkilton avoids. They trade some wild blows and Rich gets the better of it, but Jansen takes him down again and gets into side mount. Crunkilton turns into him and escapes to his feet though and then sprawls to avoid another takedown. Jansen is looking exhausted here. He shoots again and this time Rich sprawls and goes for the anaconda choke. Jansen looks in trouble but Crunkilton can’t lock up the legs for leverage, and Jansen manages to free himself and stand! Crunkilton looks like the fresher man and he lands a combo, and then avoids another low single attempt. Jansen is out of gas here, but he manages the takedown and he passes the guard as Crunkilton tries a triangle. Jansen almost manages the full mount, but Crunkilton shifts his hips and gets half-guard back. Ref stands them up horribly fast again and both men look exhausted now, allowing Jansen to land a couple of weak shots and get another takedown to side mount. Kimura attempt from Jansen and it looks locked in, but he doesn’t step over the head and Crunkilton manages to survive and slip back to half-guard. Full guard now for Crunkilton but Jansen works to pass again and does it, finishing the round on top.
Not sure how I’d score that one really as it was close and by the end both men were absolutely gassed. I’d probably give it to Jansen I think. Judges have it 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 for Dave THE FUGITIVE Jansen. Pretty entertaining fight but I don’t think either man will be challenging the top WEC Lightweights (Varner, Cerrone, Henderson, Roller, McCullough) any time soon as they gassed pretty quickly and got sloppy about halfway through the second.
Jorgensen – he of the odd skin condition – had put on a great, great fight with Antonio Banuelos at one of the earlier WEC cards in 2009 so he was a guy I was quite excited about seeing again. On the flip side, TUF 5’s Thomas – yeah, THAT Noah Thomas – was a dude who really I never wanted to see again following his idiocy on that show. No prizes for guessing who I was rooting for here.
We begin and Thomas pushes forward swinging, but eats a right hand that wobbles him early. Takedown from Jorgensen and he tries a slam from guard, but Noah uses it to escape to his feet. They trade some shots and Jorgensen gets the takedown again, passing into half-guard. Thomas works back to full guard and tries to go to the rubber guard, but he doesn’t look flexible enough to get it in properly. Triangle attempt from Thomas but Jorgensen slips free and they come back to their feet. Thomas throws a couple of slow combos, but gets knocked down and Jorgensen EXPLODES with ground-and-pound and almost gets caught in a triangle for his efforts. Thomas still has full guard, but Jorgensen really opens up and lands some heavy leather. BIG ELBOWS land for Jorgensen and Thomas is GONE, and the ref calls it there.
Pretty much a squash as Jorgensen looked far more comfortable standing and did a lot of damage there, and once he got a good posture on the ground he just destroyed Thomas. Another exciting little fight from Jorgensen and hey, I liked the result!
Man, what a long story to lead to this main event. Basically the whole issue stemmed from January’s Lightweight Title match between champion Jamie Varner and challenger Cerrone, where Varner had been leading on the scorecards, but took an illegal knee from Cerrone in the fifth round and was unable to continue, thus the fight ended and Varner retained, with Cerrone deemed worthy of a rematch. Since then Varner was struck with various injuries and so the rematch couldn’t be scheduled, so the WEC decided to create an Interim title and threw Ben Henderson – unbeaten in the WEC with two impressive victories – into the mix. The majority of fans figured Henderson didn’t have enough in his arsenal to beat the Cowboy, who would probably take the Interim title and march onto the long-awaited rematch with Varner.
Crowd are unbelievably hot pre-fight which is surprising as I didn’t think either of these guys were really big stars. Cerrone especially gets a massive reaction – guess the Cowboy gimmick makes him popular in Texas!
And we begin, and right away the Cowboy throws a massive head kick, but misses and slips in doing so, and Henderson gets on him with a takedown attempt. Cerrone quickly secures a standing guillotine and it looks DEEP, and then he switches to the same rear naked choke-guillotine hybrid that Miguel Torres used to finish Chase Beebe and gets on top! Henderson looks to be in DEEP TROUBLE, but somehow he escapes, only to find himself caught in a triangle choke! Whoa. This looks synched too but Henderson somehow holds on and drops some good hammer fists. Finally Cerrone gives up on it and now Henderson goes for a guillotine of his own, then misses a head kick as they stand. Good leg kick from Henderson, answered by a lunging right from Cowboy. Henderson drops for a single leg and Cerrone looks to defend it, but Henderson keeps driving forward and switches to a double leg. Good defense by Cerrone so far, but Henderson manages to get him down. Right away though Cerrone gets a high guard and goes for a triangle, but Henderson postures out and drops some BOMBS into the guard. Oma plata attempt from the Cowboy but it looks a little loose and Henderson slips free. Double upkick (!) from Cerrone pushes him off, but Henderson gets back on top and stands over him, dropping punches. Cerrone tries to backflip his way out, but Henderson is insanely quick and he spins to the back, forcing Cerrone to roll back over to guard. Hammer fists from Ben now before he stands in the guard and takes a vicious upkick, but he’s still dropping punches as the round ends. Unbelievable round.
Round Two and they circle before Ben shoots on a single. He gets Cerrone down, but the Cowboy kicks him off and so Henderson dives forward, but Cerrone dodges him and leaps onto the back! God damn. One hook in for the Cowboy and he looks to lock up a body triangle, but he’s too high and slips off, allowing Henderson to come out on top in Cerrone’s guard. Henderson stands in the guard again and then passes to half-guard as he eats some reverse hammer fists from Cowboy. Full guard again for Cerrone but Henderson’s standing in the guard again dropping shots. Kimura attempt from Cerrone and then he uses it to transition into an armbar, but Henderson steps over to avoid and drops a heavy elbow down onto the Cowboy. Henderson stands in the guard again and drops some more heavy shots, doing an excellent job from the top. Finally with less than a minute to go Cerrone twists for a kneebar, but Henderson easily escapes it and stays where he was, dropping nasty shots from the top with Cerrone stuck firmly in the bottom position. Cerrone looks a little disheartened now as he walks back to his corner.
Third round and Henderson isn’t even breathing heavily. That’s serious conditioning. Cerrone looks to stay on the outside and strike this round, but he doesn’t really open up for fear of the takedown and sure enough Henderson tackles him to the ground again. Punches from Henderson and he takes the back for a brief moment before Cerrone rolls into guard again. It’s looking like the second round all over again as Henderson postures up to drop punches, and this time he escapes a triangle attempt to get into side mount. Henderson takes the back and lands punches, then goes back to standing above the guard and dropping punches. He takes an upkick, but it doesn’t seem to have any effect as Henderson’s dropping shot after shot. Good job from Cerrone of pushing him off and standing. Good low kick from Cowboy as they circle. Takedown attempt from Henderson and he switches from a single to a double leg, and works to trip Cerrone down. Cerrone looks like he’s got a guillotine and then he pushes off and escapes to his feet, but Henderson stays on him and goes for the takedown again. Beautiful double leg puts Cerrone on his back, but again he kicks him away and stands. Head kick misses for Henderson and he backs out before shooting again. Cerrone tries to block it, but Henderson manages to get the ankle pick and gets him down on the buzzer. Well, I’ve got Henderson up two rounds to one now, giving him the second and third with Cerrone taking the first for the submission attempts, but that round was incredibly close so really it could well be 3-0 for Henderson.
Fourth round and Cerrone surprisingly shoots on Henderson, but Ben stuffs it and goes for a takedown of his own. Cerrone catches him with the RNC-guillotine hybrid again though and gets on top, and again Henderson looks in trouble. Cerrone’s really squeezing on this looking for the finish, but Henderson gives referee Kerry Hatley the thumbs up! Jesus. Crowd are going INSANE now as Henderson pushes on Cowboy’s elbow and slips free, escaping to his feet! Big body kick from Henderson too. Takedown attempt fails and Cerrone backs up. Again Cerrone avoids a takedown attempt and he looks a little more comfortable now. Single leg from Henderson but Cerrone stuffs it and then lands a nice uppercut as he backs up. Henderson manages to grab a double leg though, but again Cerrone blocks and lands with a knee! Henderson keeps driving forward but somehow Cowboy is still on his feet, and he manages to break free. Neither man is looking at all tired which is unbelievable, I mean, compare this to Jansen-Crunkilton for instance. Another single leg attempt follows for Henderson but Cerrone blocks and again lands with a nasty uppercut. Now Henderson’s on his back, and Cerrone stands over him and kicks at the legs. Henderson gets to his feet, but takes a couple of shots in doing so and Cerrone stalks forward and drops him with a low kick to end the round! Wow. Much better round for Cerrone there and this final round should decide things.
Fifth and final round and the crowd are DEAFENING now. Henderson shoots right off the bat and looks for a double leg, but Cerrone looks to stuff it again. It looks like he’s trying to lock up the guillotine too, but he gives it up and escapes the takedown. Nice left hand from the Cowboy coming forward, and he again works to stuff a takedown attempt. This time though Henderson drives forward and gets him down. Only for a second though as Cowboy works his leg free and stands. Henderson remains on his back and Cerrone kicks at the legs, then waves him to his feet. Striking exchange sees Henderson slip to his back again, and Cerrone drops into side mount. Henderson tries to get a single leg and manages to get him down, but Cerrone turns into an oma plata. Cowboy looks to transition and locks in another tight triangle, also cranking on the arm for good measure! Somehow Henderson pops his head free though, showing tremendous defence, and now Cerrone turns into the oma plata again. Henderson’s arm looks twisted at a SICK angle but he’s still giving the thumbs up, insane stuff, and now he pops free and begins to drop punches from above the guard again! Cerrone pops up to his feet but Henderson gets on him again, getting the takedown with seconds remaining. Big upkick from the Cowboy and he looks for the triangle again, then goes back to the oma plata, but the round comes to an end with Henderson’s arm at another awful angle.
Unbelievable fight from start to finish but I’m giving Donald Cerrone the final round, making him the winner on my scorecard, 48-47. Judges end up going the other way though, all going 48-47 for Ben Henderson making him the NEW WEC Interim Lightweight Champion! Basically rounds two to five were easy to score (two and three to Henderson, four and five to Cerrone) and it comes down to how you score the first. I would’ve given it to Cerrone for the submission attempts, but Henderson did do some damage with his ground-and-pound and I guess the judges were more in favour of that. It was so close though so you can’t call it a robbery.
Post-fight Jamie Varner enters the cage and gives props to both guys, then says he’s looking forward to facing Henderson to unify the titles, preferably in Phoenix, Arizona.
Amazing main event, total FOTYC level stuff throughout and I’d call it a high-level FOTYC too, putting it behind Condit-Kampmann and Sanchez-Guida, but just in front of Condit-Ellenberger and Cullum-Tokoro in my overall list for 2009. The pace was incredibly high, we got some top-level submission attempts and escapes, reversals, great striking, this fight honestly had everything. Everyone who calls themselves an MMA fan needs to see this one, stat.
-We end with a trailer for WEC 44: Brown vs. Aldo and they do a GREAT job of making that fight a must-see. Well, it *is* a must-see, but you know what I mean!
Another excellent show from the WEC. Obvious highlight was the FOTYC between Cerrone and Henderson, but outside of that we also got three explosive finishes in Page-Campuzano, Mack-Fabiano and Jorgensen-Thomas, and another very good fight in Assuncao-Jabouin. I didn’t think much to Jansen-Crunkilton as they got sloppy and tired towards the end but even then it wasn’t a bad match by any means, which means yet again we got an incredibly good free TV card. Thumbs way up as per usual.
Best Fight: Cerrone-Henderson
Worst Fight: Jansen-Crunkilton
Overall Rating: ****1/4
UFC: 99-104, Fight Night 19, TUF IX Finale
Affliction: Banned and Day Of Reckoning
King of the Cage: Various shows