Ben Henderson snatched a victory out of nowhere to become the WEC's undisputed Lightweight Champion, while Urijah Faber secured a date with Jose Aldo after a big submission win of his own - all part of WEC 46 Sunday night at the ARCO Arena in Sacramento, CA.
For all the results of WEC 46 featuring Henderson, Varner, Faber and the successful return of Mike Brown, read on!
Ben Henderson def. Jamie Varner via 3rd round submission (2:41) to become the undisputed WEC Lightweight Champion
After not doing much for the first two rounds, Ben Henderson countered a Jamie Varner shoot with a mounted guillotine and made him tap in the 3rd round to become the undisputed WEC Lightweight Champion.
Varner came out strong in the first round, taking Henderson down and cranking on his neck, including one big guillotine push that Henderson worked out of. There was a weird moment when Varner got hit in the face with a kick and then started to walk away, seemingly favoring his eye. Now THAT would have been a strange ending and yes, Donald Cerrone was in the crowd.
After a fairly blah second round, Varner was up two rounds to none but then, the 3rd round happened. Varner shot in on Henderson and the interim champion jumped up on his hips, ensnaring him in a nasty guillotine choke that had him tapping within seconds. Varner didn't even hit the mat or try to fight as it was over quickly, shockingly and surprisingly. So much for Varner vs. Cerrone II. Looks like Henderson vs. Cerrone II may be on tap next.
Varner looked great for a round, but I think he used up too much energy in that first round working for that guillotine. Prepping for a 25-minute fight after a year layoff probably wasn't the best thing, but as one of the name value lightweights in the WEC, he won't have to do much to get another shot.
Urijah Faber def. Raphael Assuncao via 3rd round submission (3:49)
After looking hesitant in the first round, Urijah Faber turned it in on the final two and wore down a game Assuncao with a rear naked choke for a 3rd round submission win and a shot at Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo.
In front of a rabid hometown crowd, Faber showed no ill effects from the hand injuries he suffered in the second Mike Brown fight as he knocked Assuncao down twice in the fight with hard right hands. In the first round, Assuncao was looking to slow Faber down and cut down on Faber's fast punches. He won the round, but barely.
But it was in the 2nd and 3rd that Faber kicked it up a notch and took Assuncao down, almost finishing him with a guillotine choke. He dominated Assuncaco on the ground to win the round and in the 3rd, continued to push the pace. Assunaco looked overwhelmed at what was happening and seemed content to fight from his back and wait for Faber to make a mistake.
That ended up being the wrong move as Faber got his back as Assuncao tried to make a move and paid for it. Faber sunk in a rear naked choke and Assuncao tapped, setting up a megafight between Aldo and Faber for later this year. Aldo was in the cage post-fight and jokingly said that Faber wasn't going to take his belt. No offense Sac-Town, but this one shouldn't be in California. The crowd advantage is just that...an advantage. This needs to be a neutral ground encounter.
Kamal Shalorus def. Dave Jansen by unanimous decision
For two wrestlers, these guys sure didn't act like it. Shalorus and Jansen were content to slug with each other for 15 minutes with some minimal ground work. Shalorus' shots were harder and more precise, opening up cuts on Jansen's face in the 1st and 2nd rounds.
Every time Jansen would try to shoot, Shalorus defended effortlessly. He's a raw talent and needs some refining with his striking and transitioning to the ground when he's got a guy in trouble, but he's a prospect to watch in 2010. People certainly liked to boo him as well (because he's Iranian?) and even started a USA chant in the 1st round. What?
Two judges had it 30-27, while another had it 29-28. I had it 30-27.
Mike Brown def. Anthony Morrison via 1st round submission (1:54)
The former WEC Featherweight Champ had zero issues in dispatching Morrison in short order. Johnson was active early in throwing leg kicks and punches, but Brown was patient and got the takedown, working into the dreaded HUGHES CRUCIFIX OF DOOM. Johnson worked his way out, but Brown was relentless with his battering and eventually got Morrison to give him his back for the rear naked choke victory.
Morrison looked a bit intimidated here in his WEC debut so it's tough to gauge exactly how big a win this is for Brown. He needs another big win to get back into the title race but at least he's on his way back. He did get a few boos from the Sac-Town crowd but did get mostly boos which seemed to make him uncomfortable. It's just part of the job, bud.
Deividas Taurosevicius def. Mackens Semerzier by unanimous decision
DT was effective with takedowns in the first two rounds and simply was that much better than Semerzier, who tried submissions and threw some nice body kicks standing up but couldn't figure Taurosevicius out. Semerzier did turn it on in the 3rd round when DT went into survival mode and even hooked in a nice guillotine choke. But DT just pried apart his fingers and got out of the fight with just a cut on his forehead.
All three judges had it 29-28, as did I.
Mark Hominick def. Bryan Caraway by 1st round submission (3:48)
Hominick looked awesome here, essentially dominated the fight from his back. Caraway took him down early but Hominick was more active and didn't let Caraway get any advantage. The end came when Hominick tried to reverse Caraway and as he came back down, postured his hips and entangled him in a triangle/armbar that make him tap. I'd love to see him against Mike Brown in a No. 1 contender's match for the Featherweight gold.
Josh Nason has published MMA, wrestling and boxing blog Ropes, Ring and Cage.com since 2007. He is a contributor to Fight Magazine and appears regularly on Fight Network Radio. Follow him on Twitter.