WEC 18: Unfinished Business review
by Scott Newman(MMA)
Posted on December 7, 2010, 11:37 PM
WEC 18: Unfinished Business
-Your hosts are Ryan Bennett, Stephen Quadros and Jeff Blatnick. They discuss the Scott Smith-Justin Levens main event, which of course shouldíve been the finals of WEC 17ís Light-Heavyweight Tournament before Levens was forced out with injury.
-Ron Kruck talks to Scott Smith about the Levens fight, and Smith says heís excited to fight Levens and he thinks he has the advantage in all areas.
Kyle had previously held the WEC Heavyweight Title before giving it up to fight in the UFC in 2004, but after a pretty decent run there that saw him go 2-1, he never returned to the Octagon and ended up back on the regional circuit. Actually, Iím not sure why Zuffa got rid of Kyle Ė sure he isnít an elite fighter, but at the time the HW division was pretty sparse so who knows? Cole meanwhile was 7-1 at this stage with his only loss to Jeff Monson, who was just about to return to UFC action.
Round One begins and Kyle looks to strike, but Cole quickly gets a single leg and takes him down to guard. Kyle uses a guillotine attempt to get to his feet and lands a hard knee to the gut, but Cole quickly tackles him back down. Kyle pops up again and lands with a kick to the body, but again Cole plants him on the ground. Armbar attempt from Kyle is easily avoided, and Cole presses him into the fence and begins to land with some punches. Kyle turns for a kimura, but Cole defends and lands some nice shots to the head, and we get a rare terrible camera shot with the cage post obscuring the action. Kyle keeps turning for the kimura, but Cole looks fine and heís moved into half-guard now too. More shots land for Cole and it looks like Kyleís face is marked up as he gets back to full guard. Into half-guard for Cole and he continues to land until Kyle gives his back. A lot of these punches are blatantly to the back of the head, too. Both hooks in and Cole looks for the choke before turning to mount, but Kyle slips out the back door and escapes to his feet! Front kick to the body from Kyle but Cole closes the distance and looks for the takedown again. Kyle defends as Cole forces him back across the cage, but he ends up planted on his back again. Full guard for Kyle and the action slows down as Cole looks a bit tired. He begins to land again with a few elbows, and the round ends there. 10-9 Cole in a very good round for him. Kyleís busted wide open going back to his corner.
Second round and Cole looks for the takedown right away, but this time Kyle defends it. Big knee attempt from Kyle but he botches it and winds up being taken down to guard again. Quick pass puts Cole in side mount and from there he takes full mount. Kyle looks in trouble and eats some punches from Cole, who shows some nice base from the top. Nice forearms land for Cole before Kyle gives his back, but this time Cole keeps punching rather than look for a choke. Kyleís not really defending now and you could argue for the stoppage. Kyle manages to turn back to the mount, then gives his back again, but he canít turn into Coleís guard and Cole tries an arm triangle. Kyle breaks free of that and gets half-guard, but Cole steps into full mount and begins to land some more elbows, and this time Kyle verbally taps out.
Big win for Devin Cole who looked impressive in stopping the tough veteran Kyle, but he never really followed it up as after another three wins he had a horrendous run in the IFL with three losses on the bounce, and his career never truly recovered. Perfectly decent fight though.
Announcers mention beforehand that Cesar Gracie fighter Ertl is planning to retire after this fight, and they also mention that he was on a three-fight win streak until a recent loss to Mac Danzig. I remember that fight Ė it was on the same card as Tyson Griffin vs. Urijah Faber. Crunkilton meanwhile had returned from the elbow injury he suffered in his loss to Hermes Franca Ė his only loss at this stage Ė and had put together three wins since then, so a return to the UFC had to have been on his mind here given that Zuffa were just reinstating the 155lbs division at this time.
Fight begins and they exchange punches from the off, with Ertl tagging him and looking to follow with a takedown. Crunkilton works to defend and then hits a nice trip takedown of his own, landing in Ertlís guard. Good punches from Crunkilton and he decides to stand when Ertl looks for a triangle choke. Good leg kick from Crunkilton and he gets another takedown to guard. This time he moves Ertl towards the fence where he lands a pair of heavy left hands, then dives into the guard with a right. Big ground-and-pound from Crunkilton and Ertl looks in trouble. Crunkilton looks to pass and gets into half-guard, where he continues to punish Ertl with punches. Ertl works back to full guard but heís sporting a bloody nose. Herb Dean decides to call a time out to check the cut, but it actually turns out to be a stoppage to replace Ertlís mouthpiece. They restart and Ertl lands with a combo, but Crunkilton fires back with a right hand and gets a takedown to half-guard. Crunkilton does a really good job from the top with his control and elbows again, but as he stands he eats an upkick. Ax-kick into a right hand, into a spinning backfist that misses from Crunkilton (!), and he follows with another takedown. Ertl looks just about done here. Crunkilton passes into side mount but Ertl escapes to half-guard to end the round.
Second round and Crunkilton opens with a pair of kicks to the body. Easy takedown to guard follows and he passes into side mount and then full mount with some beautiful technique. Ertl does a tremendous job of bucking of and escaping to his feet, but his face looks like hell. Low kick lands for Crunkilton and then the ax-kick just glances off the side of the head. They exchange some punches into the clinch, but Crunkilton breaks free. Another body kick lands for Crunkilton and heís landing at will now really. Big right wobbles Ertlís legs and Crunkilton follows with a takedown to guard. He passes to half-guard and lands some elbows, then really opens up with some heavy shots that have Herb Dean hovering right over the action. Big forearm lands for Crunkilton and he begins to tee off on the Cesar Gracie fighter, and finally with Ertl bleeding badly Herb Dean decides heís seen enough and stops things there.
Ertl showed a lot of toughness but was never really in the fight, and Crunkilton looked excellent in all areas, both standing and on the ground. This was indeed Ertlís last fight, while Crunkilton did end up back in the Zuffa fold Ė but in the Zuffa version of the WEC, where he had a solid run that ended last year after a couple of losses. Impressive display from Rich Crunkilton in an entertaining if one-sided fight.
-Ron Kruck stands by with Chuck Liddell who says that the WECís put on a great card, and then he talks about his upcoming rubber match with Randy Couture.
Lytle was between UFC runs here, just coming off his loss to Joe Riggs at UFC 55, and the next time heíd step into the Octagon would be as part of the TUF 4 cast in the series of fights that would ultimately change his career. Young meanwhile ended up going onto some success at 145lbs, so why he was at 170lbs here Iím not sure. Check of his record shows he fought Kendall Grove (!) before this too which means he mustíve been even heavier!
First round starts and Young indeed looks tiny at 170lbs. Low kick lands for Young but Lytle quickly clinches and works for position before tripping Young down to guard. Little action follows as Lytle works the body and grinds with his elbow, but Young grabs hold of a guillotine. Lytle looks really calm though and works his head free despite turning red in the face. Couple of nice elbows land for Lytle and he continues to work from the top. Good job from Lytle to move into side mount and he does well to control Young as he attempts to shrimp out. Knees to the body from Lytle and then he works the Hughes crucifix and begins to tee off with elbows. Young appears to be in some serious trouble and he ends up tapping out as he canít escape the position.
Very good showing from Lytle who weíve seen use that position to devastating effect more recently in the UFC against Jason Gilliam and Matt Brown. Young looked badly overmatched here probably due to the size difference as well as Lytleís skill, and in the end the fight was basically a squash.
As I mentioned earlier this fight was originally scheduled as the finals of the October LHW Title tournament, but Levens injured his shoulder in his semi-final win over Jorge Oliveira and Smith ended up KOing Tait Fletcher to take the title instead. The stakes were very high here Ė not only was the WEC title on the line, but in a fight between two of the hottest prospects in the division the word was that the UFC were watching intently with an eye to signing the winner right away. My pick naturally was Levens, as I saw him as a lock for future UFC stardom at this stage.
Fight begins and they meet in the center of the cage where Levens scores with a short right hand and DECKS SMITH RIGHT AWAY! He quickly looks to follow up and uses a front headlock to spin onto the back where he looks for the rear naked choke, but he gets too overzealous and forgets his hooks, which allows Smith to shake him off and wind up on top in guard. Levens looks to tie him up, but Smith stands and then drops into half-guard and grabs a topside guillotine. Sweep attempt from Levens is blocked and Smith then grabs the left leg and drops back for a heel hook, but Levens rolls with it and sits up before locking up a toehold of his own! It looks locked in but Smith manages to scramble free, only for Levens to scramble himself and grab a rear waistlock as Smith gets to his feet. Smith quickly looks to isolate the left arm to prevent Levens from attempting a suplex, and the action finally slows down a little as Levens lands some knees to the hamstrings as Smith keeps hold of the arm. They move around the cage before Smith surprises Levens by spinning into him with an elbow strike! Levens looks stunned and Smith follows with a HUGE COMBO that drops Levens hard! He looks done and Smith follows with a BRUTAL RIGHT HAND over the top that knocks him silly. Holy shit.
Wow. Five years on this fight remains probably the best two-minute fight Iíve ever seen, as we got an early knockdown, submission attempts, duelling leglocks and finally a sick knockout finish that began with a really unorthodox move. The word before the fight turned out to be true as Smith was immediately signed by the UFC, but due to his impressive showing Levens was also signed and both men ended up making their Octagon debuts at UFC 59, where they were defeated by veterans David Terrell and Evan Tanner respectively. While the big story coming out at the time was Smithís insane punching power, the long-term legacy of the fight would fall more with Levens, whose career never really recovered after this loss despite his UFC run. He never truly looked at ease in the cage again after suffering this knockout, and in the end his life would sadly spiral downwards until his tragic suicide two years ago. As someone who exchanged a number of e-mails with Justin I can attest that he was always a cool guy and as a fan I still miss him now. RIP. That aside though, this was an amazing main event that lived up to all the hype it garnered coming in.
-Announcers wrap up the night and we end the show there.
Itís really amazing how far MMAís come in the four years since this show, as itíd be very rare to get a card as good as this from a regional promotion (read, not UFC or Strike Force) these days and if the UFC were to put on this exact card with the same level of fighters today as a Fight Night show then itíd probably get rave reviews from most online fans. While the first three fights werenít barnburners they were decent enough, with good showings from Lytle, Crunkilton and Cole, and the main event was an incredible fight between two of the top prospects in the world at the time, one of the best two-minute fights youíll ever see. Like the preceding WEC 17, itís an easy thumbs up and a must-see if only for Smith-Levens if you can find it.
Best Fight: Smith-Levens
Worst Fight: Cole-Kyle
Overall Rating: ****
UFC: 118-123, Fight Night 22
King of the Cage: Various shows