After a shitty beginning to his WEC career, Bartimus was looking for his third win on the bounce here, facing the unbeaten Micklewright who hadnít fought since WEC 45 in December. Smart money seemed to be on the IFL veteran to pull it off. Personally I wouldíve preferred to have seen Javi Vazquez vs. Mackens Semerzier televised instead, but then Iím a Javi fanboy. Palaszewski has channelled Jens Pulver for this fight, well, the hairdo at least, as heís sporting a bright red mohawk with some random patterns shaved into the sides.
Round One begins and Bart immediately lands an inside leg kick. Micklewright throws some punches out that donít land, and a pair of leg kicks answer for Bart. Combination from Micklewright puts Bart on his back foot, but he doesnít look hurt. Nice counter left hook from Palaszewski as Micklewright pushes forward. They trade some punches but it looks like Micklewright lands better, as Bartimus quickly closes the distance and forces him into the cage. They muscle for position before Steve Mazzagatti separates them off and itís back to the striking match, both men landing some good hard shots. Good uppercuts from Palaszewski as he grabs the back of the head for a moment, and he follows with a good counter right hand as Micklewright throws a low kick. These guys are really trading here. Good leg kick into a combo from Micklewright. Right hand into a low kick from Bart, but it catches Micklewright heavily in the groin and Mazzagatti calls time. He recovers quickly though and they restart and right away Bart tags him with a right hand. Micklewright continues to push forward, and Palaszewski begins to land some heavy shots that somehow donít have much effect. Exchange continues with a very slight edge to Bart as we end the round. Excellent opening round, 10-9 Palaszewski, but it was close.
Round Two and Micklewright pushes forward with a combo, but a short counter left hurts him and he backs up quickly. Bartimus walks him down, landing a right kick that wobbles him back into the cage, and as he looks to cover up Bart opens up with a flurry! Micklewright tries to fire back, but walks into a CRUSHING RIGHT HAND that drops him horribly, and thatís all she wrote.
Beautiful knockout, total highlight reel stuff. Really fun fight too as both men came in to swing and never backed down an inch. Based on his last two fights Palaszewski might finally be living up to some of his hype, too.
With Jorgensen having reeled off four wins in a row including one over Takeya Mizugaki and Pickett unbeaten since arriving in the WEC, this was pretty much a de facto #1 contenderís match for the Bantamweight Title. It was also, on paper, a possible FOTYC, as neither guy tends to have a boring fight and both men always bring it. Naturally I was pulling for Pickett but this seemed to be a very tough match for him as Jorgensen is very well-rounded.
Fight begins and both men look to exchange, and Pickett catches a low kick and counters with a right that decks Jorgensen early! Jorgensen pops back up quickly though and looks recovered. Jorgensen tries a low kick again and this time Pickett grabs him and forces him to the ground, but Jorgensen quickly pops back up and they clinch for a moment before Jorgensen breaks with an uppercut. Pickett comes forward swinging, but Jorgensen avoids the flurry and the Brit ends up looking for a takedown, but he canít get Jorgensen down and they break off. Nice one-two from Pickett and he follows with a glancing right to the body. Good single leg by Jorgensen puts Pickett down for a second, but he pops up immediately. Good combo from Pickett, but Jorgensen answers with a left that knocks out his mouthpiece! Pickett looks hurt but somehow still leans down to grab the mouthpiece and shove it back in, retreating as Jorgensen comes forward with a right hand that lands! Big left hand into the clinch from Jorgensen but Pickett grins. Uppercut and an elbow break for Jorgensen, but Pickett fires back with a strong combination and a stiff left jab. Takedown from Jorgensen but Pickett locks up a guillotine and it looks pretty tight. Excellent job from Jorgensen though as he passes the guard into side mount and works his head free. Pickett scrambles and escapes to his feet, and Jorgensen lands a right on the way out. Good lunging left to the body from Pickett. Flying knee glances off Jorgensen but he looks okay. These guys are going toe to toe here. Good right hand from Pickett, but Jorgensen stuffs a takedown and they trade off to end the round. Awesome round but almost impossible to score. Iíd probably go 10-9 Pickett but I could easily see it for Jorgensen too.
Round Two and Pickett opens with a really good combo, but Jorgensen looks unfazed and fires right back. Both men are landing nice shots here. Good right hand from Pickett lands in a trade. Pickett looks like heís beginning to take over, but suddenly Jorgensen fires right back and clocks him with another heavy right! This is an amazing fight. Referee calls time during a slight lull to get Pickettís mouthpiece back in again, and off the restart Jorgensen tries a single leg but Pickett stuffs it. Into the clinch and Pickett looks for some knees, but one lands low and referee Kim Winslow calls time to let Jorgensen recover. They restart quickly and Pickett lands with a good combo, but slips coming forward and Jorgensen lands with one of his own. This is one of the best fights of 2010. Takedown from Jorgensen puts Pickett on his back in full guard, but Brad stays active and manages to avoid taking much damage. Couple of solid elbows do get through for Jorgensen though. Pickett gets his legs up for a triangle, but Jorgensen shows some good base and manages to escape, but as he looks for the mount Pickett scrambles to his feet and avoids a guillotine in the process. Seconds remaining and Pickett swings for the fences, and then shoots on a double which Jorgensen stuffs on the buzzer. Super-close round again but Iíd give it to Jorgensen so itís even going into the third.
Third round and both men are still really pushing it. Pair of left hooks land nicely for Pickett but Jorgensen fires right back with a combination of his own. Jorgensen begins to slightly take over now, landing some good punches before hitting a nice takedown to guard. Pickettís face looks marked up pretty bad at this point as Jorgensen grinds on him with the elbows. Pickett throws his legs up for some sort of submission, either an armbar or a triangle, but Jorgensen postures out only to allow Pickett to escape to his feet. Big right hand lands for Jorgensen but Pickett pays him back with a left. Good single leg from Jorgensen and he gets Pickett down in guard again. Grinding elbow from Jorgensen but Pickett continues to scramble from his back. Triangle attempt almost pays off, but Jorgensen manages to spin free and gets into side mount. Good knees to the body from Jorgensen and heís almost hitting the lower back as Pickett scrambles. Pickett looks to have a bad cut over his right eye. Looks like Jorgensen is content to grind out the round. Pickett decides to risk it and gives up his back in an attempt to roll free, but Jorgensen hits a belly-to-back suplex and takes the back. Good scramble from Pickett allows him to spin into Jorgensenís guard, where he finishes the round with an elbow. Close fight but I have 29-28 Jorgensen.
Judges have it 30-27, 30-27, and 30-27 for Scott Jorgensen. Much closer fight than those scorecards suggested though as I thought Pickett was winning the stand-up and the only difference was Jorgensenís slightly better wrestling game. Tremendous fight from start to finish though and they kept up a ridiculous pace and never let up for a moment. Easily a low-end contender for FOTYC in my opinion and Jorgensen has more than earned a title shot at this stage, especially when you consider heís beaten three guys in or around the top ten now in Mizugaki, Banuelos and Pickett.
-Craig Hummer catches up with Manny Gamburyan and Donald Cerrone about their upcoming fights with Jose Aldo and Jamie Varner respectfully. Manny says he believes he can win despite Aldoís amazing skills, while Cerrone admits there are still raw feelings between himself and Varner, saying heís planning to make the fight into a street brawl. Whole segment lasted about a minute but really did a good job of selling the card. Cerrone is a fountain of charisma.
Another step up the ladder for Urijah Faberís protťgť Mendes then, as Swanson seems to have settled into the role of a gatekeeper at 145lbs and if you can beat him then youíre probably ready for the very top fighters in the division. Despite Mendesís amazing wrestling I actually liked Swanson for the upset here based on his strong submission game.
Round One begins and Cub circles on the outside before Mendes clips him with a left that has him a little hurt. Swanson looks okay though and circles back out, but Mendes closes the distance, grabs a rear waistlock and muscles him to the ground, landing in side mount. Very little action happens from here as Mendes seems content to hold Cub down. Hammer fist finally lands for Mendes but then he goes back to the classic lay-n-pray. Finally referee Josh Rosenthal calls the stand-up. Mendes counters a body kick with a right hand as they circle, but he takes a solid straight left from Swanson. Kick from Swanson is caught and Mendes gets an easy single leg to guard. Good job from Swanson to scramble back to his feet and they circle out again, with Swanson pushing forward. They exchange some jabs, and Swanson attempts a flying knee and gets taken down right at the end of the round. 10-9 Mendes.
Round Two and Mendes opens with a low kick before getting an easy double leg to guard. Swanson quickly uses a guillotine attempt to escape to his feet though. They exchange some punches and Swanson lands some decent shots including a couple of heavy jabs, but Mendes doesnít look hurt. Lunging body kick and an uppercut land for Swanson but Mendes fires back with a right. Swansonís beginning to land the better shots now. Mendes closes the distance though and slams him to the ground in guard. Swansonís eye is marked up. Mendes passes to half-guard but Cub quickly hip escapes back to guard. Swanson attempts a sweep, but Mendes shows some excellent base and almost takes the back before Cub decides to go back to full guard. Mendes continues to grind on him, not really doing much in the way of damage, but his control is awesome. Cub looks for a kimura, but Mendes powers out easily before Swanson grabs a guillotine to get to his feet and lands some knees before breaking off on the buzzer. 10-9 Mendes.
Third round and Swanson tries to swing, but basically gets shoved to his back and Mendes gets on top in the guard. Chad pins him into the fence, but Cub uses the cage to post back up to his feet and breaks off. They exchange some punches with both men landing, but as Cub begins to get something going Mendes tackles him right back down to guard. Cub looks for the rubber guard, but his legs donít look flexible enough and Mendes remains in control. Into half-guard for Mendes and he follows by muscling into mount. Swanson quickly escapes that to reclaim half-guard, but it doesnít look like he can get up. Mendes appears to be trying a smother choke, but he quickly gives up on that. Back to full guard for Swanson and Mendes isnít really doing much ground-and-pound here, but he is winning this fight. Couple of short elbows land for him and then he allows Swanson to his feet, but as Cub decides to take a risk and try a flying knee, Chad slams him back down and takes the back for a moment. Swanson escapes again and runs in with a low kick, really swinging for the fences, but he canít catch Mendes with anything big and Mendes shoots and grabs a rear waistlock to wrestle him down again. Swanson tries to work from his back but itís too late and Mendes finishes the fight on top.
Judges score it 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 in favour of Chad Mendes. Mendes did what he had to do to win this fight against a tough opponent, but Urijah Faber he is not, as there was none of Faberís famous creativity here (which appears to have rubbed off on Faberís other protťgť Joseph Benavidez...) and for the majority of the fight Mendes just used his wrestling and extremely conservative ground-and-pound to stifle Swanson. However, you canít deny that the guy has talent and is moving up the ladder pretty swiftly. Iíd like to see him fight Mike Brown next perhaps, as thatíd really prove if he can hang with the big guns of the division.
This was seen as a potential #1 Contenderís fight, which sort of disappointed me given that I thought Roller would use his wrestling game to shut the striker Pettis down as he did to Anthony Njokuani, and if he were to win then heís already lost badly to Ben Henderson so whatís the point in a rematch? Just more fuel to the fire to suggest the WEC 155lbs division ought to be folded into the UFC. I was pulling for Pettis, but didnít expect him to pull the win off.
First round begins and Roller swings a left hand, but eats a counter right away. Roller closes the distance though and forces Pettis into the fence, but Pettis stuffs the takedown and almost gets the takedown himself before they scramble up. Roller shoots on a single leg and drives him into the cage again, but Pettis shows some good defense to avoid and they muscle for position along the cage. Great takedown defense from Pettis to avoid an ankle pick, and he makes Roller pay with a crisp right hand on the way out. Jumping head kick glances off Rollerís face. Pair of overhand hooks land for Roller and they lead into a takedown attempt, but Pettis again blocks it and forces Roller into the cage. Roller looks for a throw but botches it and Pettis winds up on top, but a scramble frees Roller and they come back to their feet. Good combination from Pettis puts Roller on the defensive and another one lands flush and looks to have Roller a little hurt. They clinch up again and Roller grabs the head to look for a guillotine, but Pettis quickly slips free. Roller swings some wild punches and lands, putting Pettis on the retreat for a moment, but Showtime quickly comes back with a RIDICULOUS capoeira kick and follows with a left hook, flying knee and a big combo that has Roller wobbled! Roller looks for the desperation shot, but Pettis stuffs it and lands with a good knee to the head. Seconds to go and Pettis tries another spinning capoeira kick as the round ends. Great round for Anthony Pettis, 10-9.
Round Two and Roller pushes forward with a low kick, but Pettis counters with an overhand right. Takedown attempt from Roller and he forces Pettis into the cage again, but still canít get him down and Pettis manages to slip free. Good leg kick from Pettis. They circle around and as Roller lunges forward, Pettis surprises him by ducking and taking him down! Roller gets full guard but Pettis works with some solid shots to the body. Roller looks to work some elbows from the bottom, but Pettis is doing a good job from the top by finding openings for shots. Roller goes for a triangle, but Pettis backs up and brings the fight back to standing. Flurry from Roller and he lands a solid left hand and then looks for the takedown with Pettis hurt, but he still canít get Showtime down and they exchange knees and punches from close quarters. Takedown from Roller finally works and he lands directly in full mount, but Pettis hits a SICK reversal by climbing up the cage with his legs, and he gets on top and drops some strong punches down into side mount! Roller manages to escape and practically crawls for a takedown, but Pettis is having none of that and calls him to his feet. Seconds to go and Pettis misses a spinning hook kick to finish the round. Wild. 10-9 Pettis.
Third and final round and Roller pushes forward swinging power punches, but Pettis stays on his bike before Roller lands with a left hook and shoots. Good slam from Roller puts Pettis on his back, and he passes to side mount before Pettis looks for a kimura. Nice scramble from Pettis almost allows him to his feet, but Roller keeps him down. He goes get full guard, however. Roller tries to pass, narrowly avoiding a triangle, but Pettis still has full guard and he lands a nice upkick as Roller stands over him. Roller drops down into the guard, but lands right into a triangle and it looks sunk, only for Pettis to attempt to switch to the armbar, which is enough for Roller to slip free. Man that was close. Roller ends up in side mount, but Pettis quickly pivots back into full guard. Roller continues to attempt to pass, and then he looks for a topside guillotine from half-guard, but Pettis scrambles free back to full guard. Good right from the top for Roller and he keeps trying to pass, but he canít get out of the guard and Pettis takes the opportunity to get to his feet. Roller looks GASSED now. Pettis looks fresher, but not by much. Roller swings, but canít get Pettis down from the clinch. They exchange low kicks and both men land. Pettis follows with another good leg kick and a hard right hand, and Roller looks staggered. He tries to fire back, but Pettis manages to hit a takedown and puts Roller on his back in guard! Roller works to his feet and Pettis breaks off with a high kick from an odd angle. Another good leg kick lands for Pettis and heís on his way to winning this fight. Roller swings for the fences and Pettis looks for a takedown, but Roller grabs the guillotine and pulls guard, desperately looking for the finish. It looks tight, but Pettis spins free, allowing Roller into top position, but as Roller swings a wild right, he drops into a triangle choke and Pettis gets it locked and FORCES THE TAPOUT WITH SECONDS TO GO!~!
AWESOME fight. Both men seriously brought the goods here and despite Roller trying everything in his arsenal, he couldnít outwrestle Pettis and on the feet and in terms of submissions, Showtime seemed one step ahead from the beginning. It looked like he was on his way to winning a close decision, but to finish things off right before the end of the fight is pretty impressive, too. Up to this point I never bought Pettis as being on the same level as the WECís top 155lbers (Ben Henderson, Donald Cerrone, Jamie Varner and Roller) but after this performance I canít wait to see him fight Henderson for the belt as with the way both men fight itís pretty much bound to be one hell of a fight.
-Todd Harris announces which city has gained enough votes to host WEC 53 in December, which is a pretty awesome way of choosing a host city actually. Urijah Faber and Dana White join him and weíre down to Milwaukee, Phoenix and Nashville. And Dana reveals that the winner is....Phoenix, Arizona. Very cool as neither of the Zuffa promotions have been there before and if the WEC does well itíll probably mean the UFC will go there at some point, and not only that, but WEC Lightweight champ Ben Henderson will fight in the main event there and itís his hometown.
-And sure enough Craig Hummer catches up with Henderson who says Phoenix has some great fans and a lot of great fighters coming out of Arizona at the minute, so he canít wait. Hummer mentions that Anthony Pettis just called him out, and Henderson acknowledges that, and thankfully WECís matchmakers are smart and so Henderson vs. Pettis will indeed be the main event of the Phoenix show.
As I mentioned with the possible Roller-Henderson fight, I donít like rematches when they come less than about two years after the original, and this was the case in this fight, as Cruz had already outpointed Benavidez a year earlier. With that said though, you could hardly deny Benavidez a title shot after he choked out Miguel Torres, so I didnít mind too much. In my opinion not enough had changed since the last fight though, and I expected Cruz to be able to pick Benavidez apart in a similar fashion again to hold onto his crown.
Crowd are clearly pro-Benavidez upon entrances. Benavidez has also dumped his Stranglehold entrance theme in favour of what sounds like a James Brown track, which is disappointing although it gets Urijah Faberís head nodding which is pretty funny. Cruz meanwhile has one of those guys who constantly yells ďHEEEEY!Ē in his corner ala the old Chute Boxe team in PRIDE.
We get underway and the height difference is alarmingly in favour of Cruz. Cruz dances around on the outside to begin and lands some early strikes from some really odd angles. Crowd begin to chant for Benavidez as he catches Cruz with a short counter right. Slip causes Benavidez to drop to his knees and Cruz quickly gets the clinch and looks for the takedown. They exchange some knees inside before breaking off. Good low kick from Cruz and he gets out of the way of some wild hooks from the challenger. Good counter left from Benavidez again. Cruz continues to dance on the outside, landing an uppercut as he comes forward. Body kick from Cruz, but Benavidez counters with a pair of right hooks that land well. Cruz continues to dance around though, and then shoots from nowhere and takes the challenger down, avoiding a guillotine very easily. Benavidez gets full guard and looks to tie the champion up as Cruz peppers him with punches, answered by some elbows from the challenger. Round ends inside the guard. Razor-close round as Benavidez landed the more telling blows whereas Cruz landed more in terms of volume, but Cruz did hit the takedown so Iíd go with him 10-9. Only just, though.
Second round begins and Cruz throws a high kick but walks into a right hand counter. Cruz goes with a low kick but slips and almost finds himself in a guillotine, only to scramble back to his feet quickly. Benavidez begins to get more aggressive now, but heís struggling to land clean blows due to Cruzís reach. Good knee stepping in from the champion and he stays on his bike, dancing around the outside. Takedown attempt is easily stuffed by Cruz and he avoids a jumping kick too. Cruzís footwork is really effective. Body kick lands for the champ. LOL at Stephan Bonnar naming Jeff Curran as a possible 135lbs title contender Ė the guy was released from the WEC about a year ago! Good straight right from Cruz and he avoids a flurry from Benavidez as well as a takedown attempt. Low kick is countered by a right from the challenger and he shoots on a single leg, but Cruz stuffs it and escapes. Big chant for Benavidez as Cruz dances around again and clips the challenger with a couple of right hands. Jumping knee attempt from Cruz lands glancingly. Cruz pushes forward as Benavidez tries to counter, and towards the end of the round the champion hits a single leg and gets him down. Benavidez quickly reverses to his feet and the round ends inside the clinch. Very close round again but I think Cruz just about took it, giving him two rounds in the books now.
Third round and Cruz continues to throw strikes from some awkward angles before shooting, but Benavidez avoids. Lunging right glances off Cruzís head. Low kick lands for the challenger. High kick is blocked by Benavidez. Cruz continues to bounce around and proves difficult to hit. Takedown attempt from Benavidez is blocked and they muscle for position before Cruz slips away from a single leg. Right hand and a glancing knee land for the champion. Good left to the body too. Into the clinch and Cruz knees to the body and defends a takedown attempt before breaking free. Few wild swings miss for the challenger. Low kick lands though. Body kick from Cruz but Benavidez counters with a combo, ending with a low kick that knocks Cruz off balance. Good body kick lands for the champion to answer. Hard kick from the challenger as Cruz steps in. Quick clinch is broken and Benavidez lands a pair of shots to the body, but Cruz hits a takedown to guard right before the end of the round. This is almost impossible to score, but again I think Cruz just about stole the round.
Round Four and Cruz immediately opens with a takedown and steps around into side mount. Benavidez works back to full guard, but Cruz stays active and peppers the body with some shots. Cruz looks to advance into half-guard as the challenger desperately looks to keep full guard in, and itís a war that Benavidez wins by keeping the guard. Cruz remains active though looking to pass, but Benavidez scrambles and slips to his feet. Now he shoots, but Cruz sprawls out to avoid and looks to hit a switch off the single leg attempt. Nice back elbow lands for Benavidez, really creative shot. They come to their feet and Benavidez looks for a guillotine, but Cruz works free and they end up in the clinch. Good knee from the clinch for the challenger, and he avoids a takedown right after. Looks like the knee cut Cruz too as heís bleeding all over Benavidezís back. He manages a takedown and pops out of a guillotine, passing into side mount too. Cruz looks to grind on him from there, but the challenger manages to scramble to his feet, and they end the round with Benavidez looking for a takedown. 10-9 Cruz despite the cut.
Fifth and final round and this is pretty much guaranteed to be going the distance now. Cruz stalks forward and looks for a takedown right away. Benavidez stuffs it, but eats a body kick on the way out. Leg kick lands for the challenger. Rushing double right for Cruz. Cruz remains on his bike and avoids the wilder counters. Both men land with rights and then Benavidez looks for the takedown, but Cruz stuffs it. One-two lands for Cruz but the challenger comes back with a low kick. Flying knee almost lands for Cruz but Benavidez ducks under it! Good body kick from Cruz. Benavidez pushes forward, but Cruz kicks him away with a front kick and then lands a right. Right body kick from Cruz is answered by a spinning backfist from the challenger, but Cruz seems fine and lands a right of his own. They trade some punches with neither man getting the advantage. Both men swing some wild combos that donít land cleanly. Couple of jabs from Crux as he keeps his distance. Good right hand from Benavidez. Insane pace given that this is the fifth round! Under a minute to go and Benavidez really begins to chase him, but he canít land. Both men really begin to trade, but Cruz lands a takedown and with seconds remaining he works some strong ground-and-pound with his elbows. Cruz stole that round at the end and on my scorecard he wins 50-45, but I could see more than two of those rounds going the other way so who knows.
Judges have it 48-47 Benavidez, 48-47 Cruz, and 49-46 for a split decision victory for Dominick Cruz, meaning he retains the title. Crowd boo wildly but I think the right man won, and itís more that the fans were pro-Benavidez from the beginning than them thinking it was a bad decision.
Fun fight overall, as the pace never slowed from the onset which is really impressive for a five-round fight, but in a lot of ways Cruzís style is very frustrating to watch, as heís like Lyoto Machida but rather than counter-fight he dances in, hits his opponent, and then dances right out. The problem is that he never really looks like heís going to finish his opponent by using that style. Whether thatís because heís been fighting the cream of the crop Iím not sure, but he hasnít finished an opponent in his whole WEC tenure aside from Brian Bowles who retired on his stool following a hand injury. I mean, Benavidez tried, but it was clear from the beginning to me that his style just didnít mesh well with Cruzís and sure enough the fight went a lot like their first meeting. Guess weíll have to wait until Urijah Faber gets his inevitable title shot for someone to really challenge this guy then, as personally I think Scott Jorgensen, while an excellent fighter, is too similar to Bowles and Benavidez to do anything with him.
-We end with a plug for WEC 51, and then a highlight reel of the nightís action.
Overall this was your typical outstanding show from the WEC. This one had a rare snoozer Ė Mendes-Swanson Ė but even that wasnít enough to bring the whole card down, as Jorgensen-Pickett was fantastic, Pettis-Roller wasnít far behind, and the main event while frustrating at times kept my interest throughout due to the ridiculous pace. Obviously it isnít the best WEC of all time and it doesnít come close to the greatness of Aldo vs. Faber, but still, right now nothing can beat a WEC show for non-stop action start to finish. Two thumbs up, duh.
Best Fight: Jorgensen-Pickett
Worst Fight: Mendes-Swanson
Overall Rating: ****1/4
UFC: 116-119, Versus 2, Fight Night 22
King of the Cage: Various shows