Never heard of Shalorus but apparently he’s an Iranian wrestling champion. Shit, what is this, PRIDE? At least Shalorus had a record of 4-0 coming into this though! Kerr meanwhile was also making his WEC debut, bringing in a record of 8-1. Not heard of either man so who knows as far as a pick went.
We begin and Shalorus comes out with a low kick. He stalks forward and a looping left hook and a right to the top of the head send Kerr to the canvas. Shalorus goes down into the guard and looks to pound him, but Kerr tries to roll for a kneebar. Shalorus avoids and they come back to their feet, where the Iranian is swinging some seriously heavy leather. Kerr looks mad stiff on his feet and it looks like this could just be a matter of time. Combo rocks him and finally a monstrous right to the temple folds Kerr up and the ref calls it before Shalorus can follow up.
Well, Shalorus just came out and swung for the fences and Kerr didn’t do a thing to avoid them. Pretty much the story of the fight really. Interesting debut for Shalorus but it’ll be interesting to see how he does against a better technical striker next time out.
Team Takedown’s Roller was seen as one of the top prospects at 155lbs in the WEC, and he’d bounced back from a loss to Ben Henderson by beating Marcus Hicks at WEC 42. Castillo meanwhile had reeled off three wins on the bounce following a loss to Donald Cerrone in 2008, but I couldn’t see him overcoming the wrestling advantage of Roller.
Round One and they circle and look to gauge the distance with jabs before Castillo closes the distance and goes to the body. They quickly back out and circle again before Roller shoots for a takedown. Castillo does a good job of defending but Roller stays on him and drives him into the fence. Great job from Castillo of escaping the takedown and he goes back to striking from the outside. Nice combo from Castillo and then he surprisingly gets the takedown on Roller. Shane quickly explodes back to his feet though and then they separate. Castillo’s striking is looking better by a hair here. He gets another takedown but this time Roller hits a reversal and then goes to a guillotine, but he can’t lock it up and Castillo explodes to his feet and gets out. Big knee to the body from Roller but Castillo tackles him to the ground in full guard. Few elbows and punches land for Castillo as he forces Roller’s head into the fence, but he doesn’t do any real damage and the round ends there. Easy round for Danny Castillo, 10-9.
Round 2 begins and Castillo swings his way into a clinch, really working the body with right hooks too. They break and a massive swinging combo from Castillo forces Roller back into the cage, and then a takedown puts Roller on his back. Castillo stands over him though and then allows him to his feet. Combo from Roller and he clinches and forces Castillo back into the cage. Castillo breaks off though and now Roller’s beginning to throw the knee to counter as Castillo changes levels. Big knee connects from Roller and Castillo is noticeably slowing down. Takedown from Roller and he lands in side mount. Castillo sits up and Roller locks up a guillotine from the top and really cranks on it, but Castillo defends by tucking his chin tightly and he manages to escape. Mount from Roller and now he takes the back and flattens Castillo out. Roller lands punches to the head and stops Castillo from rolling out, and really opens up with shots as you could make a case for stopping this I think. Castillo manages to stand with Roller on his back and shakes him off though, and now he’s swinging for the fences as Roller looks tired! Seconds remaining and Castillo fires off with a good combination. 10-9 Roller but Castillo was taking over late there.
Round Three and Castillo comes out swinging and lands a good body shot. Takedown attempt from Roller but he faceplants as Castillo sprawls, and now he ends up in guard. Roller scrambles to escape and Castillo narrowly misses landing an illegal knee as he slides out. Roller on his back now in the crab position and Castillo eats a couple of upkicks as he drops into the guard. Castillo manages to trap an arm and land some punches, but Roller slips out and scrambles. They end up in the same position pretty much with Castillo on top in half-guard, and from there he takes mount. It looks like he’s going for an armbar as Roller turns, but instead he lets it go and stands. Roller looks winded now and comes forward on one knee, not seen that before, but Castillo avoids a takedown quite easily. Roller comes forward and lands a left, then avoids a takedown and switches, taking the back with both hooks and getting Castillo down! He’s got the rear naked choke locked in now and after a few moments of struggling, Castillo taps out!
Well, that turned into a hell of a fight actually. Castillo did very well early on, particularly in being able to take a wrestler like Shane Roller down, but in the end it came down to Roller being able to capitalize on the superior positions he got while Castillo really didn’t. No complaints from me though as both guys went hell for leather from the opening bell.
-Craig Hummer joins both Donald Cerrone and Ed Ratcliff for an interview, a month before their fight. I love how WEC manages to do this – put the fighters together for an interview – but I think if I were a fighter I’d hate it as a month out all I can imagine is wanting to tear the opponent’s head off! Basically they put one another over and say they’re ready for war. Although Cerrone shit-talks Jamie Varner as per usual with him.
Darabedyan’s another Armenian guy out of the Hayastan camp with Karo Parisyan, Manny Gamburyan, Roman Mitichyan et al, and I like pretty much all of those guys because they’re all batshit crazy, to be quite frank. From what I’ve heard of Karen, he’s both a grappling whiz and a karate champion. McCullough meanwhile had never really lived up to the early hype that he was given in the WEC, dropping a couple of fights to Donald Cerrone and Jamie Varner as well as putting on an absolute stinker with Marcus Hicks at WEC 39, and I figured the newcomer could defeat him here.
We get started and they go into a quick trade early and both men get tagged, so they back up and circle a little. Couple of leg kicks from Razor but Karen lands a nice left hook stepping in. Big combo looks to have Razor stunned a little and he tries to fire back as the Armenian comes forward, but doesn’t land and Karen backs up. Both men are landing some pretty solid combos here. Nice combo ending in a left body kick lands for Razor, but Karen cuts him on the bridge of the nose with a straight left. Darabedyan lands another straight left to counter a low kick. Double jab from the Armenian and then he follows with a nice combination. This guy has some fast hands. Round ends shortly after.
2nd round and it’s a striking exchange similar to the first round. Takedown comes for Karen now though and McCullough immediately goes to a closed guard. Some really nice short elbows land for Darabedyan from the guard but Razor manages to scramble out to his feet where he lands a knee to the gut in the clinch. They break off and Karen seems to be cut under his right eye now, but another crisp combo lands for him and I’d say he’s outstriking Razor Rob at this point. Beautiful body kick lands for Razor though. Rob begins to push the action more now, landing some hard blows, but Karen isn’t backing down an inch. Another good combo lands for McCullough, going to the head and then ending in a leg kick. Round ends with another trade-off. This could go either way.
Final round and this is a pure kickboxing match pretty much. Hard leg kicks land for Razor to open the round as Karen’s pace has slowed a bit. Takedown attempt from Darabedyan, but Razor sprawls to avoid and breaks off. Exchange continues with both men continuing to land their fair share of shots, but I think McCullough is outlanding him a little now. Hard jabs land for both men and snap one another’s head back. Exchange continues in a similar fashion and we have less than a minute to go now. Thank God I’m not a judge as I have no fucking idea how I would score this. Fight ends with a bloody McCullough waving Darabedyan on to hit him. Good fight. One of the better striking-based fights I’ve seen recently and a far cry from Razor Rob’s last shitty performance.
Judges have it 30-27 Darabedyan, 30-27 McCullough and 29-28 for the winner by split decision, Karen Darabedyan! Big win for him although if you’d put a gun to my head I would’ve said Razor Rob took the fight. Ah well.
-Announcers join a guy called Junior Seau who is a clone of Mike ‘MAK’ Kyle. Apparently he’s got some new show where he does different sports or something. He’s sparred with Forrest Griffin. Who knows on this? I’ve never heard of the guy.
Big fight for the semi-main as Garcia was ranked in the top five at 145lbs by most people after his big wins over Hiroyuki Takaya and Jens Pulver, while Gamburyan had done well at 155lbs in the UFC despite being undersized, and this was his chance to throw his name into the hat of title contenders. Stand-up advantage was firmly with Garcia, ground advantage with Manny, but overall I was taking Gamburyan for the win as I didn’t think Leonard could stop his takedowns. Staredown is hilarious as Gamburyan’s head just about reaches Garcia’s chest. How this guy at 5’5” ever did so well at 155lbs is a testament to his heart and talent really. I mean shit, can you imagine him facing say, Terry Etim at 6’4”?
First round and Manny pushes forward right away, but takes a leg kick. Big combo lands for Leonard and he avoids an ankle pick takedown. Good leg kick from Manny and he narrowly avoids a right hand counter. Single leg from Manny and he drives Leonard into the fence in a clinch. Couple of knees land low for Gamburyan though, angering Garcia, and referee Herb Dean steps in and warns the Armenian. They restart and Manny wades in with a wild right and goes for the takedown again. This time he almost gets it, but Garcia manages to fight his way back up. Manny keeps driving forward though and keeps Garcia firmly pinned into the cage. Referee separates them and Garcia lands a left switch kick to the body, but Manny pushes forward again and eats another kick en route to clinching. Round ends there. Close round but Manny was the aggressor so I’m going with him.
Second round and Garcia slips on a high kick. Low kick lands hard for Manny but Garcia avoids a takedown. Garcia swings some pretty wild punches, but doesn’t land and Gamburyan ducks under and looks for the takedown again. Garcia almost does the splits trying to avoid, but Manny brings him down and then lands some punches to the head as Leonard scrambles back up. They jockey for position along the cage and then Garcia breaks off. Massive overhand right misses for Manny and he slips to the ground, but Garcia can’t capitalize and ends up giving his back, where Manny gets to a bodylock and slams him down to guard! Weird that he’d gain that position from his own error really. Punches from Manny and he passes to half-guard and works a top headlock for control. Gamburyan works from the top and then brings Garcia down again as he scrambles up, and the round ends with Manny punching from top position.
Third and final round and I think Leonard needs a finish here. Both men swing for the fences but neither lands clean and the action slows a bit as both men keep stepping in and out throwing big combos. Both men are openly taunting one another now, this is AWESOME, and Leonard outright sticks his chin out and screams at Manny to hit him! Weird dance-like thing from Manny and then he shoots on a double and brings Garcia down to guard again. Leonard looks stuck from his back a bit as Manny controls him, and then gets a guillotine as Garcia tries to stand. Manny stays on him and looks to get him back down, transitioning to a rear waistlock, where Garcia tries some back elbows ala Wanderlei Silva. Gamburyan drags him down momentarily before he pops up in the clinch, and now Manny drops for a double leg. Manny is pretty relentless. Garcia is desperately trying to break away here but he can’t get Manny off him for love or money. Takedown from Gamburyan and with 30 seconds to go this is probably it. Half-guard for Garcia against the fence, and he just about hits a sweep as the fight comes to an end.
This has to go to Manny and sure enough the judges have it 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 all for Manvel ‘The Anvil’ Gamburyan. Not the most entertaining fight of all time but the third round really lit things up and Gamburyan was incredibly tenacious and unrelenting throughout, and he never gave Garcia a chance to breathe really, particularly late in the third. Big win for Manny to announce his arrival in the 145lbs division and I can see him competing for the title in 2010 for sure. Definitely a dangerous guy to have there.
See, for me this should be on PPV, main eventing or co-main eventing a big UFC show. But hey, at least WEC are putting on strong shows so I shouldn’t complain. This was the latest huge fight for the 145lbs division, as Brown, fresh off his second win over Urijah Faber and firmly established as the top fighter in the world in the weight was faced with another tough challenger in Aldo, who had reeled off five WEC wins by KO or TKO, including a flying knee knockout of contender Cub Swanson. And this was despite him being more known as a BJJ guy rather than a striker! Despite Brown’s power, heart and wrestling skill, I was picking Aldo to dethrone him and become the new champion, as I couldn’t see anyone in the world dealing with this guy’s explosiveness.
We begin and Brown paws with a jab early as Aldo looks ready to explode at any moment. Uppercut from Aldo but Brown catches him with an overhand right. Big low kick from the challenger. Brown is pushing forward here which is somewhat surprising. Brief clinch but Aldo breaks quickly and lands a swift combo ending with a low kick, then catches the champ with a one-two and a knee to the body. Brown continues to look for the overhand right, but a vicious leg kick lands for the challenger who seems to be operating on a faster speed level. Beautiful combo lands for Aldo, going from a low kick to a body kick to a flying knee and Brown covers up and drops for a takedown. Aldo does a tremendous job of defending the takedown and just doesn’t let Brown get him down for a second, and they end up clinched by the fence. Brown works some knees and then Aldo breaks off, and with a minute to go a big switch kick lands for Aldo to Brown’s midsection. Brown keeps pushing forward, but he’s eating kicks and knees coming in and this hasn’t been a good round for him at all. Aldo 10-9.
Second round and Brown pushes forward but takes a spinning back kick to the body from Aldo. Vicious combo from Aldo beginning with a flying knee and ending with a flurry hurts Brown badly, and he drops for a takedown that Aldo stuffs again. Brown is in deep trouble here. He swings, but now Aldo surprises him and gets a takedown, and almost immediately he scrambles to full mount! Brown tries to roll, but gives his back and Aldo flattens him out and BOMBS AWAY TO THE HEAD FOR THE STOPPAGE! Holy Christ.
Incredible ending to what was a shockingly one-sided fight. To me it looked like Brown was hurt badly by the standing combo and once he was on the ground he was too out of it to do anything to escape. This was reminiscent of Matt Hughes’s second fight with GSP in a way, in that it was a great champion up against someone who hit harder, moved faster and was generally more explosive, and in that situation there’s little you can do really. Brown is a great fighter and was a great champion, but Aldo is on another level and I wonder who in the world at 145lbs can stop him. For me he’ll probably join BJ Penn, GSP and Anderson Silva in the group of seemingly untouchable champions. This guy, point blank, is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet.
-Highlight reel closes us out. Whew.
Yet another excellent show from the WEC who are probably the most entertaining promotion in MMA, fight-for-fight. I mean, can you even remember a bad WEC show in the last two years? Off the top of my head the one with Brian Stann vs. Doug Marshall wasn’t great. The rest though have been awesome and this was no exception, with the arrival of a possible pound-for-pound great in the main event and a really solid undercard, particularly Castillo-Roller which was just an excellent fight from start to finish. McCullough-Darabedyan was good too for a fight which was basically a kickboxing match and although Gamburyan-Garcia wasn’t quite the brawl some might’ve hoped for, it still had its moments and wasn’t a horrible fight or anything. Not the greatest WEC of all time or anything but still an easy thumb up and definitely worth a recommendation.
Best Fight: Roller-Castillo
Worst Fight: Gamburyan-Garcia
Overall Rating: ***3/4
UFC: 101-107, Fight Night 19
Strike Force: Carano vs. Cyborg, Fedor vs. Rogers and Evolution
King of the Cage: Various shows