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Friday February 15, 2008 10:03 AM PST

 

WEC 32 Excites

By Jon Paszkiewicz (cageside)

The WEC knows how to win fans. Leaving the relative safety of the Hard Rock hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, the WEC traveled to Rio Rancho, NM delivering local fans an exciting card featuring four hometown fighters – all of them winners.

Top to bottom every match up entertained, and the 4,648 fans in attendance were treated to two title changes.

Carlos Condit def. Carlo Prater
Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit, fighting out of FIT N.H.B in Albuquerque faced Carlo Prater in a rematch of Condit’s very first MMA loss. Even though all of his WEC victories have thus far been by submission, Condit started the fight unafraid to stand and use his Muay Thai skills, trading kicks with Prater. Prater quickly took Condit down, landing in Condit’s guard. Condit seemed comfortable, looking to secure an armbar while controlling Prater. Switching to a body triangle then back to the open guard, Condit attempted a guillotine, but Prater was able to slip an arm deep enough to defend. Condit again isolated an arm of Prater for a possible armbar or triangle, but again Prater defended. Not long after, Condit again wrapped a long arm around the neck of Prater, slipping another guillotine over his head. Prater tried to get an arm in to defend again, but this time it was too late as the choke had been sunken in deep, causing Prater to tap at 3:48 of the first round. After the fight, Condit spoke of the ease of the submission “I got a front choke, he defended…I got the front choke again, I heard him gurgle, I squeezed more and he tapped”.

Jamie Varner def. Rob McCullough
A confidant Jamie Varner proved that he made the right decision moving from the UFC to the WEC by taking the lightweight title from “Razor” Rob McCullough. Connecting with the first strikes of the fights, Varner then followed up taking McCullough down. McCullough was able to get back up and sprawl away from subsequent takedown attempts, but Varner was relentless, controlling McCullough’s back at one point, clearly pushing the fight as the superior wrestler. Despite this control, Varner did not attempt a single submission. In a relatively quiet second that caused a bit of restlessness in the crowd, both fighters took a few big swings, neither causing much damage. Varner did score one take down, but almost the entire round was spent on their feet. McCullough started the third round landing hard strikes that sent Varner’s mouth piece flying across the cage. McCullough followed up until Referee Steve Mazzagatti granted Varner a time out to replace his mouthpiece. This break in the action was just enough for Varner to compose himself and land a hook to McCullough’s body. Seconds later, Varner floored McCullough with a left right combo. The toughness of “Razor” Rob took over on auto pilot as McCullough tied up Varner’s legs and stood up, eating shots. Catching a combo again, Mc McCullough fought up off of his knees again. This time, Varner pushed off on McCullough’s head, creating enough space to land a straight right hand for the KO. Post fight a satisfied Varner was heard telling WEC officicials “Give me a nice long contract. I like it here; it’s a good home for me.”

Miguel Torres def. Chase Bebe
Putting Chase Bebe through a clinic on technical Jiu Jitsu, the lean Miguel Torres won the WEC Bantamweight championship. Torres, who despite standing flatter than Bebe, was comfortable starting the fight standing. After eating a solid kick, Bebe took Torres down, only to get caught by an up-kick from Torres. Taking Torres down again may not have been the best decision for Bebe to make. Torres was very comfortable waiting for an opening to submit Bebe. That opening came when Bebe rolled out of an omaplata and into an anaconda. Instead of rolling him, Torres smoothly transitioned again, this time into the modified guillotine that ended the fight.

Leonard Garcia def. Hiroyuki Takaya
Texas born now living and training in Albuquerque, Greg Jackson trained Leonard Garcia fought highly regarded Hiroyuki Takaya. Seasoned by his experience in the UFC, Garcia impressed in his WEC Debut. Dropping to 145 lbs for this fight, Garcia was clearly more aggressive with strikes and kicks. Takaya landed a few leg kicks but Garcia connected not long after with an overhand right. This opened up the way for a solid kick to Takaya’s body, then a left right combo that dropped Takaya. Garcia didn’t hesitate for even a moment jumping on him, landing two more shots before the ref stopped the fight at 1:31 of round one.

Damacio Page def. Scott Jorgenson
Albuquerque favorite Damacio Page, a Jackson’s camp teammate of Leonard Garcia, continued his winning streak, beating the tough wrestling skills of Scott Jorgenson. Page was a late replacement, boldly taking the fight on just a few days notice. Known for his strong strikes, Page started the fight focused, landing punches and dropping Jorgenson with a kick. After landing in Jorgenson’s guard and standing it back up, Page took a punch to the jaw from Jorgenson. Page responded immediately by dropping his hands, taunting Jorgenson and leaning away from the follow up punch. Back on the ground, Page briefly controlled Jorgenson’s back, looking calm even when in an odd north south position that did not allow either fighter to inflict much damage. In a second round that saw ground and pound attempted by Jorgenson and submission attempts from Page, it seemed both fighters were searching for an opening that just wasn’t there yet. With WEC Champ Urijah Faber in his corner, round three saw Jorgenson relying heavily on his wrestling skills. This gave some early success in takedowns, but Page, himself an accomplished wrestler, took over the round, pinning Jorgenson against the cage. Page pushed the ground and pound assault, shrugging off a weak armbar attempt, ending the fight dropping blows on Jorgenson and picking up the unanimous decision.

Wheeler def. Hawkins
Teammate or Carlos Condit, Coty “Ox” Wheeler faced Del Hawkins. In a very active, although not overly technical first round, fans saw Wheeler display a commendable level of aggression, catching a kick and attempting a jump kick of his own. After wrestling for sometime, Wheeler attempted a kneebar. In the second round, punches and leg kicks were traded until Wheeler slammed Hawkins. Standing above Hawkins, Wheeler took a brief pause from kicking him to taunt him by striking a crane pose, ala The Karate Kid. Back on the ground both fighters wrestled back and forth until Wheeler caught Hawkins with a quick flying armbar when standing up. Hawkins tapped out at 1:57 of round two.


Tapia def. Banuelos
A tough Manny Tapia controlled Pit fighter Antonio Banuelos over three rounds. Throughout the first and second rounds, Tapia’s movement was superior. Banuelos was dropped in the second and fought off Tapia’s follow up attack well, bring the fight back up to standing. Both fighters continued trading to finish the round, with Tapia landing the better shots of the two. The round ended with a bleeding Banuelos landing a spinning back kick and both fighters trading punches again. Round three saw a tired Banuelos start Breathing with an open mouth and getting hit from a Tapia combo. Banuelos responded by slamming Tapia and attempting to control his back. After slipping off a rear naked choke attempt, Tapia brought the fight back up. Back in control, Tapia defended Banuelos’ takedown attempts, the fight finishing in the clinch. Originally ruled a split draw, one of the judges score cards was misread. After correction, Manny Tapia was declared the winner by majority decision.

Grispi def. Hominick
In another strong WEC Debut, newcomer Josh Grispi fought Mark Hominick. Grispi came to fight, firing off strikes at a calmer Hominick. While Grispi’s punches and kicks didn’t seem to be too damaging, they were disruptive. After trading punches a bit more, Grispi tried a flying knee that set him up to take Hominick’s back standing. Jumping up to get his hooks in, Grispi sunk a deep rear naked choke making Hominick fall backwards and pass out at 2:55 of round one.

Maeda def. Valencia
Yoshiro Maeda had a satisfying victory over Charlie Valencia, by way to TKO in the first round. Starting off well by landing a kick to Maeda’s body, working the clinch well and pressing Maeda with some crisp punches, Valencia seemed to be in control until leaving his body exposed, an opening that Maeda capitalized on dropping Valencia with a tough body kick prompting referee stoppage at 2:29 of round one.

Miller def. Farrar
In the first fight of the night, Micah Miller wet fan’s pallets by making quick work of Chance Farrar. Farrar seemed to be confidant early, moving well and throwing a few quick kicks at Miller however, a patient Miller fired a right hand that landed squarely, knocking Farrar off of his feet. Miller followed Farrar down, earning a knock out victory at 1:39 of round one.

 

Jon Paszkiewicz can be reached at jpazman@yahoo.com

 

 
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