Bleacher Report is once again live, cageside as the World Extreme Cagefighting sends some of its biggest and brightest stars into the modified octagon.
All of the focus has been on the featherweight championship tilt between the defending champ Jose Aldo and the challenger Manvel Gamburyan and for good reason.
Junior is quickly establishing himself as one of the more dominant rulers of his division; a ferocious striker and dangerously well-rounded athlete in the vein of the Ultimate Fighting Championship's Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva and Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre.
Meanwhile, the Anvil is a familiar face to even some casual fans because of his time on The Ultimate Fighter reality show and a brief run in the organization's lightweight division. It's always intriguing when a legitimate competitor drops down to a more natural weight class so the anticipation is high to see what the dynamo can do against the king of the 145-pound castle.
But those two warriors aren't the only guys who'll be throwing leather inside the 1stBank Center near Denver.
In addition, we've got Denver-native Donald Cerrone, former WEC lightweight champ Jamie Varner, former WEC bantamweight champ Miguel Angel Torres, a notorious burner in Leonard Garcia, the Korean Zombie (Chang Sung Jung), and another TUF alumnus in George Roop.
In other words, the action should be thick when the curtain drops in about 15 minutes.
Sincere apologies, but the Internet isn't working at all cageside so I've had to move backstage to find connectivity.
I won’t pretend to know a ton about either fighter in this matchup of 135-pounders, but I did ride the shuttle to the arena with Pace’s mother, brother, and two other interested parties who didn’t identify their relationship with the undefeated New Yorker. Needless to say, mom was pretty nervous as her boy is making his WEC debut.
Pace enters to Aerosmith’s “Come Together” and he doesn’t look like a newcomer—no visible jitters. Johnson enters to generic rap—lots of base, lots of growling, blah, blah, blah.
This is my first bantamweight fight and it’s a little surreal to see guys this slight in the cage. Pace comes out looking calm, if a little tentative. True to his pre-fight promise, Johnson has come out aggressively to maximize his experiential advantage.
Nothing much lands as they trade feelers until Johnson clinches and presses Pace up against the fence. The greener participant keeps his composure and reverses to put Demetrious’ back against the cage. The New Yorker drops levels for the takedown, but Johnson defends and then avoids a trip.
Demetrious, who fights out of Washington, is showing his experience by mixing in a few knees and jabs. They’re not hurting pace, but they’re scoring points in a rather uneventful first round. Pace is learning quickly, however, as he’s now following suit and manages to take his adversary to the ground.
The warm fuzzies don’t last long as Johnson is able to take top position. The man in the dominant position seems content to just ride the position out until a flurry of action ends the round with Pace scrambling away from his attacker.
Call it 10-9 for Johnson.
With one round under his belt, Pace comes out with a kick which his corner promptly tells him to stop doing. Perhaps the corner men know something we don’t because the kick seems to have awaked Johnson.
He starts throwing hands and a kick of his own, some of which make it through Pace’s defense and seem to rattle the newbie. He recovers nicely after a few shots, however, and is able to regain composure. Johnson takes him down, but Dean stands the pair back up after nothing of consequence happens on the ground.
Pace might just be trying to weather the second-round storm as he’s been on the defensive for much of the five minutes. Demetrious scores another takedown and this one’s getting away from the New Yorker. Johnson is working to pass guard and just about has it before Pace wriggles his opponent back into full guard.
The comparably seasoned veteran sews up a 10-9 round with some ground ‘n’ pound.
Johnson smells blood as the final round begins—he comes out with kicks, jumping knees, and pretty much anything he wants. Not everything is landing, but Pace is spending most of his time covering up (wisely) rather than firing back.
A high kick sneaks through, but it was more vapor than real substance. Nevertheless, the abuse looks to have taken its toll on Pace as he’s slowed down while Demetrious is still hopping around like you’d expect a well-conditioned 135-pounder to do.
The two athletes have clinched up against the cage where nothing much is doing.
As I type that, Johnson picks Pace up and carries him halfway across the cage, only to slam him almost directly into the fence. Looked pretty cool, but I’m not sure it did much damage. Certainly worth some points, though.
Pace is working for the single-leg takedown and eventually gets it in prime position to take Johnson’s back, but Demetrious is defending well and Pace decides to roll into his adversary’s guard. That doesn’t yield anything so he returns to Johnson’s back and gets it.
He desperately tries to find a way to finish the bout, but the horn sounds on what was probably another 10-9 for Johnson. Doesn’t matter really as this is an easy unanimous decision for the Washingtonian.
Demetrious Johnson wins by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Johnson goes by the nickname Mighty Mouse. Other than that, the post-fight interview is uneventful. Pace passes in front of me and looks more shell-shocked than beat up. I’m guessing his second turn in the cage will be better.
The Internet is killing me—not working is bad enough, but it keeps giving me 30-second windows as a taunt. I’m about to put a fist through my computer or the table, whichever pisses me off first.
George comes out to more rap. Better than the first dose, but still not wonderful.
Banuelos comes out to some serious, serious death metal. I have no idea what it is, but I’m digging it. Probably isn’t much good for anything besides pumping yourself up for something that entails violence, but it’s perfect for this venue.
Banuelos is the shorter and thicker of the two combatants, which gives him a much sturdier appearance.
Of course, that doesn’t really matter unless these two engage at some point. We’re a full 60 seconds into the fight before either man does anything but feint a strike. We're closing in on two minutes with an equal number of strikes.
Hey, hey, a third and this one actually lands.
Wow, with all that hardcore rap and death metal, you’d think these guys might have a little pent up hostility. If they do, the only outlet necessary is hopping around about three feet from each other.
George lands the first punch of note, a nice uppercut that catches Banuelos pretty well and backs him up.
Oops, Banuelos lands his first genuine blow and chases it with a wild hook that almost lands, but does not. Another strike lands and George might be a little wobbled as there’s a flurry of commotion and the two men end up on the ground with Banuelos on top.
A quick reversal gives George a snug choke, but the horn saves Banuelos. I’ll give that one to George, 10-9 because of the early striking and sub attempt. But you could literally count the outbursts of offense in that round on one hand.
Banuelos comes out with more fervor to start the round, but that peters out quickly. Now, we’re back into the feinting dance. Oh joy.
Nice jab lands from George, but he doesn’t follow it with anything. Nice leg kick from Banuelos.
Of course, those two strikes were separated by about 90 seconds of nothing. This is possibly the most boring fight I’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s being generous to a fault to even call this a “fight.” It’s more like an exhibition of calf muscles as the two bounce back and forth.
Literally the only person clapping is in George’s corner.
The boos begin and that sparks a little flurry from the two dancers. George drops levels for a takedown, but Banuelos just collapses on top of him and ends up on top. A little ground ‘n’ pound from the Californian is probably going to be enough to take the round, 10-9.
More elbows from Banuelos as I stifle another yawn.
Dear God, I can’t believe there’s five more minutes of this.
Hey, at least the Octagon girl is Richter—my guess is you’ll see her up with the UFC sooner rather than later.
We’re in the final round and these two are still feeling each other out. Hey folks, this is supposed to be a scrap.
George gets the message and lands a crushing body kick that gets a smile from Banuelos—a sure sign that it hurt. Another leg kick lands after about 45 seconds and Antonio has had enough.
He goes for the takedown and is successful with about 2:30 left, which means we have about 150 seconds of ground ‘n’ pound/lay ‘n’ pray to go. A few seconds in the north-south position gives the crowd a chance to stretch their creative geniuses with comments about sweaty groins.
If this were a movie, I would’ve walked out 10 minutes ago. Call it 10-9 for Banuelos and a unanimous decision that neither individual deserves.
Antonio Banuelos wins by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
Apologies, but we’re gonna have to pick this one up in the misdle of the first as I’ve been in search of a working Internet connection for the first couple minutes. I can report that neither Nunes nor Toner came out to any etrance music of note.
Anyway, the action is fast and furious at the moment, or maybe that’s only by comparison to the last snoozer.
Nunes had top position and looked suspiciously close to a submission, but Toner fought back to his feet and ended the round in better position. Nevertheless, I’m giving that round to Nunes, 10-9.
The two men tap to start the second and Toner comes out like he lost the first round. But Nunes is ready for him and lands a nice back kick that sends Toner grimacing into the fence. Nunes pursues and drags the bout to the ground where he momentarily goes for the choke, but thinks better of it.
Why waste all that energy when you can dominate just as easily from a less strenuous spot?
Toner struggles back to his feet, but Diego is on him like white on rice—he pulls his victim out to the center of the cage and puts him back on his rear. As Nunes tries to walk Toner back to the fence, Tyler throws up rubber guard and looks like he’s trying for a gogoplata.
Real shock that doesn’t work.
It does give Nunes pause, however, and the refs decides to stand them up. As Nunes goes to tap gloves, Toner fires away and then gets another spinning back kick for his troubles.
They’re back on the ground now and Toner’s face is turning purple as Nunes sinks in a pretty snug choke. He almost taps, but thinks better of it as the final seconds in Round 2 tick away. He survives, but barely.
Another 10-9 for Nunes.
Nunes comes out to tap gloves again and, this time, Toner obliges before starting the assault. I was about to say Nunes looks a little gassed, but he breaks off a third spinning back kick and then chases Tyler up against the cage. Knees follow before Toner fires a firm uppercut that finds its mark and sends Nunes back-pedaling toward safety.
Toner pursues and lands another shot before Nunes regains composure and the action goes to the mat. Diego’s back in the dominant position and begins to rain punishment down from above—fist after fist finds its mark and Toner looks content to simply avoid more carnage.
With about 90 seconds left, Nunes appears to stand up, but it’s a decoy as he was angling for a kimura attempt. He seizes Toner’s left arm and has a good grip on it, but he can’t manage to yank the sucker free.
Not that it matters much because he’s in control of the bout. The ref gets wise to the ploy and stands the men up where Toner launches a jumping knee that gets blocked, though the crowd roars in undampened approval of the effort.
The horn sounds as the two men use up the last of their energy reserves. That was another 10-9 for Nunes.
Diego Nunes wins by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
OK, we're back in real-time after an excruciating battle with the web demons—had to move into the media room where there is no sound so I can barely make out the dulcet strains of yet another rap tune. Ratcliff is fired UP for his matchup.
Or maybe he just really likes the song.
Horodecki also opts for rap and he comes out with equal swagger. Hey, did someone pass a law that says you're not allowed to wear a baseball cap straight?
What the hell is all this sideways nonsense? Doesn't it lose a bit of its razzle-dazzle when EVERYONE wears it that way?
I don't get it.
These guys look enormous at 155 pounds after all the 145- and 135-pounders.
The customary feeling-out period is back in effect as each man takes his time finding his range. Ratliff looks like the better conditioned athlete, but looks can be deceiving otherwise Roy Nelson would suffer a massive coronary just stepping into the cage.
Nice front kick from Ratcliff barely misses as each participant is loosening up a little. Another front kick gets batted away by Horodecki. Fierce flurry from both men draws nothing except a few glancing body blows for Chris.
This looks like it's going to be a strictly stand-up affair as neither man is showing much hesitation with his kicks and there hasn't been even a whiff of a takedown attempt. A combination lands from Ratliff, but Horodecki lands a low kick to remind Ed he's not going anywhere.
Body kicks form Horodecki go wanting. A few more strikes get traded before the horn sounds. Tough one to score. I'll give it to Ratcliff, 10-9.
We just got some sound in the media center and what a pleasant surprise to hear Stephan Bonnar's voice doing the play-by-play.
Back to the action—low kicks are the order of the early going as both men land some nice ones. Ratcliff finds a home for some gentle shots, but Horodecki's finding his range with his feet. Ed "9mm" Ratcliff—cool nickname—lands a punch as Horodecki throws a low kick, which sends Chris onto his derriere.
Instead of following him to the mat, 9mm gestures for him to get up. Horodecki obliges and kicks Ratcliff right in the goodies.
Ratcliff is trying to shake it off and he manages without too much trouble so we're back to the stand-up.
Horodecki's wayward kick hasn't dissuaded him from the maneuver as more kicks come and a few land. The fighters match right hands to the delight of the American Psycho in the booth (or cageside, whatever). The power was better from 9mm as Horodecki is bleeding.
A swing and a miss from Ratcliff draws a snarl—whether in pain or embarrassment, I don't know.
The horn sounds on another very close round. I'll give it to Ratcliff for drawing blood.
The fighters seem to sense this round is gonna decide the matter because the going is a little tentative in the early going.
Horodecki is the first to take control, using more kicks to chop away at Ratcliff. The Polish Hammer has come out as the aggressor and is inflicting more punishment than 9mm. Low kick lands and sends Horodecki flailing toward the fence as he was coming in with a big right hand.
Ratcliff is beginning to let it go as the strikes are coming more fluidly passed the two-minute mark.
The panic of the last 60 seconds is setting in as both gladiators are pouring on the sniper fire. Kicks are landing from Horodecki while hands find their marks from the Polish Hammer. Ooh, late takedown from Horodecki might've stolen the battle from 9mm in the judges' eyes.
I'd give the third round to Horodecki, 10-9, and the fight to Ratcliff by unanimous decision, but we'll have to see.
Chris Horodecki wins by split decision (30-27, 30-27, 28-29)
The Polish Hammer reveals that Ratcliff's nickname is 9mm because of his speed. I'm not sure what a 9mm has to do with speed, but nicknames are an inexact science.
I'm never coming back to the 1stBank Center—the Internet just crapped out again and my Firefox has crashed three times, which NEVER HAPPENS.
I didn't need to buy a plane ticket and two nights in a hotel to blog while watching this on television.
Well, that one didn't take too long.
We were firmly in the feeling out period when Mike Brown landed a nice uppercut that crumpled Province. Once on the ground, Brown jumped all over him and bombed away, causing the referee to stop the fight. Perhaps a little prematurely.
Mike Brown by technical knockout at 1:18 of the first round.
Wow, these guys just won't let Brown's last fight (a knockout at the hands of Manvel Gamburyan) go—Bonnar was harping on it and so does the poor man's Joe Rogan who handles post-fight interviews.
Brown says he's just turning the page.
That win oughta help.
Oh man, I'm so frustrated, I think I could put on a pretty good fight. Maybe match me up against another writer who's equally fueled over the MISERABLE F***ING technology inside the 1stBank Center. Deep breaths.
Anyway, Zhang is also known as the Mongolian Wolf because he is from Inner Mongolia. There's something you don't see everyday. He's apparently the Chinese ambassador of MMA to the United States of America.
I gotta say, he looks pretty focuses on violence.
We'll see what Pablo Garcia has to offer him.
Chinese is a bizarre language—somehow, Tiequan gets pronounced "Tiatran." Odd.
Wow, Bonnar's now twice emphasized how behind China is in its MMA. Either Garcia's a total can or this baby's gonna be over quickly in the wrong direction for the Mongolian Wolf.
Early returns suggest something's amiss—either China's not that behind or Zhang has managed to stay apace despite the lag because Garcia doesn't look like a chump and his opponent is holding his own.
The stand-up doesn't last long as the fight goes almost immediately to the ground where the Mongolian Wolf survives an early armbar attempt from Pablo only to keep the action on the ground. After all the hype regarding his striking, he certainly seems content to grapple.
Apparently, that's why—he latches on a tight choke and forces the tap in his WEC debut.
Tiequan Zhang wins by submission (guillotine choke) at 2:26 of the first round.
The Mongolian Wolf is "so happy" and "so ready to explode." Okey-dokey.
Impressive performance from a guy who wasn't supposed to be much of a ground fighter.
Alright, the Internet has totally quit. It’s dead backstage, cageside, maybe in the entirety of Denver—nothing’s beyond the veil of possibility at this point. I’m thoroughly disgusted.
Seriously, it’s 2010 and we still can’t get reliable connections for an event that caters to the web? Weak sauce.
We’re two minutes away from the next fight, waiting for Versus to take the WEC live.
Bruce Buffer takes advantage of the delay to make the media row rounds—might be a little of a blow-hard, but he seems like a nice enough hombre. Came over to shake my hand despite the fact that we’ve never spoken.
Granted, I’m a very important person, but he still didn’t have to make the overture.
Here we go.
Strap yourself in because Leonard Garcia put on one of the most unbelievable displays of courage and aggression in his battle with Roger Huerta. Hominick says he “packed a lunch” for this fight and he’ll probably need it to keep pace.
He’s off to a good start coming out to Gob Bluth’s...er, Europe’s “Final Countdown.”
Garcia opts for the more traditional rap, though he makes a good choice with Eminem’s “I’m Not Afraid” (well, that’s the chorus, don’t really know what the name is). Nice bookend to the observation about his courage.
There about seven seconds before each round where I totally forget about the lack of Internet. Can you guess which they are?
Hominick, who goes by the Machine, and Garcia, whose nickname is Bad Boy, come out to touch gloves as Herb Dean makes his first appearance. There is no feeling out—jabs and high kick start the affair for Garcia. Hominick isn’t quailing though as he’s actually walking Garcia down.
Of course, Bad Boy is more than happy to let the Machine walk into his range while loading up his shots. Garcia lands with a nice body blow/head shot combo, but Hominick keeps coming.
Another head kick is blocked by Hominick, but Garcia isn’t looking too concerned.
The pair exchanges low kicks and each connects, sending the other reeling sideways. Hominick finds a home for a nice jab and Garcia smiles as he’s prone to do.
The Machine is still chasing and Garcia is still firing away whenever he gets close enough. Bad Boy catches another shot with his nose and, yep, smiles. The pace slows slightly as Hominick doesn’t seem as interested in closing the gap.
Now, it’s Garcia who’s coming forward as he starts to get the better of the stand-up. A crazy, spinning back high kick misses by a mile, but looks really pretty as it’s going by. Another high kick misses, passing over the Machine’s head (Bush, good band while it lasted).
These two have thrown more strikes in 60 seconds than Chad George and Antonio Banuelos did in their entire bout.
Call it 10-9 for Garcia.
Second starts much like the first—with Garcia coming out guns blazing. This dude has crazy gas tank; how he manages to keep such a relentless attack is beyond me. In fact, just thinking about it makes me tired.
For all the action, though, not a whole lot is landing until he starts with the low kicks.
On the contrary, Hominick lands a stinging right that jars Garcia’s head. He had his back to me, but I bet he smiled.
The crowd starts a chant of “Leonard, Leonard,” which I guess is better than the idiot behind me screaming “806” over and over.
The Machine lands several jabs in quick succession and I didn’t see any grin this time. Overhand right lands from the Machine as he’s beginning to assert himself in the second stanza.
In an unexpected turn of events, Hominick is suddenly the quicker fighter—beating Garcia to the punch on several occasions and snapping Bad Boy’s head around in the process. The horn ends what I’d have to say was a 10-9 round for the Machine.
On my scorecard, this one’s for all the marbles and both warriors are acting like it.
They’re exchanging in flurries here and it’s pretty tough to tell who’s landing what. Suffice it to say they both are landing some good shots. A low kick almost sends Garcia to the canvas, but he steadies himself enough to eventually throw a high kick.
A left jab rocks Garcia—that’s been a particularly effective weapon for Hominick. Bad Boy looks to be having trouble with the reach/speed blend possessed by the Machine. So much so that he comes shooting in for a takedown, but is turned away.
For all the fuss I made about Garcia’s reserves, they might be spent. Meanwhile, Hominick still looks fresh as a daisy—though I doubt he smells like one.
Inside leg kick lands for Garcia, but he’s gonna have to mount a comeback to win the bout in my eyes.
I’m not kidding, Hominick has been fighting for 15 minutes and he’s barely sweating. It is kind of cool inside the 1stBank Center, but...
The crowd is trying to urge Garcia through the final 30 seconds, but the Machine continues to dodge or duck under the most dangerous shots while scoring with his jab. The horn sounds and Hominick goes from posturing in Garcia’s face to a warm embrace.
Gotta love fighters.
I’d give that one to Hominick, 10-9, and the contest along with it.
Moron behind me throws in one more “806” for good measure. Brilliant.
Mark Hominick wins by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29).
The crowd isn’t happy, but I don’t see why—I like Garcia, too, but he pretty clearly lost that fight. Besides, Bad Boy’s still smiling and getting hugs from lovelies in the crowd. He’ll be back.
Wow, quite a bit of trash-talking going on between the Korean Zombie and Roop. For some reason, that surprises me.
The TUF alumnus comes out to a remix of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man.” Generally, I don’t like it when you splice the classic metal with...oh, check that, it’s just a sampling of Sabbath’s anthem. In reality, it sounds like it might be Busta Rhymes, who I thought was possibly dead considering he’s not been heard from in so long.
Jung comes out with a huge smile on his face, almost laughing as he slaps hands with the crowd. He’s chosen the Cranberries’ “Zombie.” Good tune and doubly so because of how apropos it is in this situation.
Mr. 806 has switched to “Korea, Korea.” It’s been a long night.
Yikes, these guys aren’t fooling around—they don’t engage immediately, but when they do, they’re both swinging for the fences. Nobody connects.
Overhand right from the Zombie lands and backs Roop up, but only momentarily as he comes right back with some shots of his own. Oof, vicious knee skims past the American’s head.
That would’ve definitely ended the festivities for Roop.
Now they’re pressed up against the cage with Jung doing the pressing.
Little lull here so I’ll mention that both these guys look unhealthily thin—Roop particularly looks in desperate need of a cheeseburger. Doesn’t seem to be affecting his power or stamina, though, as he’s giving as good as he’s getting and bouncing around.
Wow, crushing right to body from Roop is instantaneously answered by a nice low kick from Jung.
Some more cruel intentions are unfulfilled as the Korean Zombie misses with an uppercut and overhand left. A jab gets through, but Roop shakes it off easily.
Tough one to score, but I’d say it’s 10-9 Jung.
Second round starts with Roop on the offensive, but he can’t find any purchase so he backs off and lands a front kick. The American looks to have a considerable reach advantage, but it hasn’t been manifested yet.
The fur is really flying for a brief moment as a hard shot from Jung sends Roop crashing into the cage where both men start swinging fro the hips. That doesn’t last long as they separate.
Roop takes advantage of the distance with a right-left combo followed by a savage left high kick that lands flush on the jaw and the Korean Zombie is asleep, prone in the middle of the cage.
The crowd approves.
In a nice show of respect and sportsmanship, the American goes to check on the vanquished. After giving the head-on-a-pillow gesture, of course, but who’s counting?
George Roop by knockout at 1:30 of the second round.
Roop might be onto something at this lighter weight—he looked a hell of a lot better down here.
Jung walks by with doctors attending him, looking very much like a zombie. Whoo boy, I’m not sure all the synapses are firing again quite yet.
George passes by shortly later—damn, that guy is skinny.
We’ve got a Uriah Faber sighting—the arena responds with a deafening ovation that drowns out the first few questions Poor Man’s Joe Rogan asks him. Considering the throttling the California Kid took at the hands and shins of Jose Aldo, I’d say the move down to 135 is a wise career move.
Next fight is all queued up—Valencia is fresh off a string of impressive victories and is determined to shut the lights on Torres. In news that surprises no one, Torres thinks it will be him who gets the KO.
Charlie opts for War’s “Low Rider” while Torres tabs more generic rap. Valencia’s already ahead on my scorecard.
Miguel’s hair is inexplicable—it’s like a mohawk melted and bred with a mullet. It’s a good think this dude can tussle. He’s Latin, born in Indiana, and fights out of Canada—I think I’d like to chat with Torres and see what makes him tick.
No progress on the mutually promised KO as it takes about 30 seconds for the first offense to emerge and it quickly retreats in favor of more water testing. While we’re waiting for something to happen, seems relevant to mention what a contrast of athletes this is.
Valencia might be shorter than Danny DeVito whereas Torres is about average height, which means Valencia is also quite a bit thicker.
And, yes, I’m stalling because nothing significant has happened other than a few Torres’ low kicks.
Miguel is the first to get off, landing a combo that included a brutal body blow and forcing him to the fence. Brief clinch yields nothing so they’re back in the middle of the cage where Valencia unsuccessfully tries to score his first points.
Shot to the crown jewels from Torres stops the action. Maybe that will inject some life into Charlie, or maybe it will steal it from future Valencia generations. Regardless, we’re back to it and Valencia lands a gentle high kick that seems to shock Miguel rather than hurt him.
Yahoo, big shot from Torres sends Valencia to the canvas where the standing gladiator starts whaling away on Charlie’s ribs and dome. Then, Valencia gets up with Torres on his shoulders, but can’t give him a good dumping before the horns sounds.
He then helps Torres to his feet. Classy dude...who just lost the round, 9-10.
The second round start with Torres blasting away and Valencia still having trouble closing the distance to the taller fighter. A futile shot does nothing except put Charlie too close to his adversary and he eats a power shot for his troubles.
Valencia’s in trouble now as he looks a little crumpled and Miguel isn’t backing away. More shots land as the dominated fighter thrashes to free himself from danger. It works momentarily, but not for long.
Torres seizes on an opening, takes Valencia’s back, and forces him to submit with a rear-naked choke. Outstanding seven minutes from the former champ.
Miguel Angel Torres wins by submission (rear-naked choke) at 2:25 of the second round.
As Valencia leaves the cage, a bunch of idiots standing by the rails mock him and his performance. I’m not generally in favor of it, but where are Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson when you need them. This dude just got paid to perform while these jackasses are screaming deliriously just to get Torres’ attention.
So I ask you, oh wise reader, who is the genuinely pathetic party?
It might seem redundant if you’re not in the habit of following MMA since your average person assumes two individuals who are throwing fists don’t share an affinity for each other, but Cerrone and Varner sincerely dislike each other.
It all started with a controversial loss due to disqualification for Cowboy after Varner couldn’t recover from an illegal knee. Then Cerrone went on the radio, slurring Varner and alluding to death in the ring.
Yep, that would probably get your hackles up, but Varner instead stewed in silence and I’m sure used it for motivation.
In other words, there should be fists fueled by hate in this bad rider.
Oh yeah, Cerrone is a native of Denver.
Should be fun.
Cowboy Cerrone enters first to Kid Rock’s...uh huh, “Cowboy.” That gives me a chance to expound on Rock—how does that guy still have an audience? He started on the hip-hop angle and has transitioned to some sort of hybrid country-hip-hop-pop nonsense?
How does that work? Perplexing, though his newer songs aren’t all that bad.
Varner comes out to a mix of boos and some sort of bass-heavy, up tempo song about having “the magic in me.” I’m at a loss for words.
Ah, no I’m not—I preferred the boos. So there.
I’m not a malicious man and I’m no Greek god with features chiseled in marble, but Varner looks a lot like a hobbit—he’s short, thick, broad, and has a pretty severe uni-brow. If he had ore hair on his back and shoulders, I’d ask for a DNA test (now that I think about it, who says hobbits can’t use razors?).
And hobbits are magic, aren’t they?
Varner stares at the ground while getting directions from Dean; this certainly doesn’t have the feel of a long fight.
Cerrone doesn’t seem to see that in the cards either as he comes shooting across the ring to do damage. A wild flurry kicks the offense off and Cowboy lands a nice spur that sends Varner running for cover. Cerrone chases him and does some sort of jump knee/front kick that looks more the product of eagerness than forethought as Varner literally catches him.
Things calm down a bit into a more orthodox fight, but Cowboy is still landing the stronger shots and Varner looks more than a little overwhelmed—almost turning his shoulders in retreat any time Cowboy comes forward.
Thwacking leg kick lands for Cerrone as Varner retreats again. He can’t get away, though, as Cerrone takes him down. Nothing materializes, however, before Jamie can re-take his feet. Now they’re back in the middle of the cage as the crowd chants “Cowboy” in its first bit of unison.
The former champ seems to be getting his feet under him as he lands his first real points of the round. Or maybe Cowboy’s punched himself out momentarily.
Guess not, another big shot buckles Varner a bit as Cerrone tries to end matters before the first horn. He can’t and eats a jab to prove it. Still, easy 10-9 for Cowboy. Maybe even 10-8.
The crowd opts for a slightly less subtle chant, which I won’t reproduce.
We’ve got a little discretion breaking out in cage as Cerrone opts for a more staid start to the second. Or maybe he’s tiring.
Varner seems to think so as he presses the action for the first time in the fight and Cowboy answers with a stinging straight right to the body. Nice combo from Varner lands to the body, but misses to the head. He goes for another similar combo, but Cerrone ducks under again and—this time—grabs a body lock to take the fight to the canvas.
He’s on top in north-south, but can’t turn it into serious trouble so the fight returns to its feet. Varner keeps wiping his eye and checking his gloves as if he expects to find blood (or piece of eyeball), much to the crowd’s displeasure.
The pace has slowed waaaaay down as Cerrone appears to be marshalling his strength for specific strikes rather than throwing everything into each assault. A low leg kick almost chops Varner down, but he’s able to regain his balance.
Varner said he had to come out and dominate all three rounds.
That’s not happening, not even close.
Cowboy is starting to play to the crowd and it responds. Another easy 10-9 for Cerrone.
Varner’s gonna need a stoppage to pull this baby out and I really don’t see that happening. Cowboy continues to revel in the crowd’s appreciation as the third stanza begins.
The two clash and Cerrone keeps landing about three or four strikes for every single connection by Varner. He’s also mixing his offense better and throwing with more power. Translation: It’s been a rough rematch for Varner.
His only real hope is for Cerrone to become too impressed with himself and the love from the crowd, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. Cowboy’s lost a ton of steam and is wearing it this round, but he’s way ahead on the scorecards and I think he knows it.
No longer does he look so interested in knocking his adversary out, instead opting to score a takedown and perhaps ride the duration out from top position.
With about 90 seconds to go, that is exactly what’s happening—Varner’s trying to get away, but can’t and Cerrone isn’t mustering a whole lot of offense. Finally, Varner’s able to wriggle free and we’re back on the feet.
This one’s over—Varner’s totally spent, standing with his hands on his hips. The horn sounds and Cowboy appears to go in for the reconciliation, but then shoves Varner in the back. Jamie thinks about retaliating, but remembers he just did fight Cerrone and he’s really tired.
Another 10-9 round for Cowboy along with the fight.
Donald Cerrone wins by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
OK, now the two competitors are sharing a laugh in the cage and all seems forgotten . We’ve got some drunks in the stands getting the boot from the 1stBank Center security staff—did Varner insult Denver or something?
What’s everyone so ornery about, pray tell?
So much for the buried hatchet—Cerrone says nothing’s over or forgotten and seems to taunt the defeated with an offer of a rematch in Arizona while the crowd continues to boo and throw homosexual slurs at Varner.
Which is really odd since Jamie put on a good fight, was conciliatory, and seems like an all-around good hombre.
Oh well, time for the main event.
But first, the fans want in on the action as several security guards go sprinting by and down the tunnel. They’re in pursuit of two amateur boxers, apparently. Incidentally, the professional ranks are safe from these two ass-clowns.
Holy lord, Jose Aldo is only 23?!?!?!
How is that possible? That means this kid is still improving every day and maturing physically. That’s gotta send shivers down many a featherweight spine.
The Anvil is a dynamic little pit-bull, but he better have the fight of his life tonight if he’s gonna avoid being another notch on Junior’s (apparently still expanding) belt. The Armenian sensation comes out to some rap in a foreign language—I’m guessing it’s his mother tongue—and it’s a cool curveball in a tedious night of the genre.
Aldo goes with Jay-Z.
That’s cool. What he lacks for in musical taste, he more than makes up for mixed martial artistry.
For what it’s worth, Gamburyan looks very relaxed and focused on the task at hand. Not sure that will be enough, but it certainly won’t hurt.
Aldo avoids eye contact while listening to Herb Dean.
Slow start as the Anvil doesn’t want to walk into anything and Junior knows he can take his time. The Black House product is like a smaller version of Anderson Silva—he bides his time, studies his opponent, and then viciously attacks.
So far, we’re still waiting on the attack—though he shows a brief flurry and then unleashes one of his hellacious leg kicks (Gamburyan dodges it).
This is surreal—we’ve got one corner shouting instruction in what I can only assume is Armenian while the other is in Portuguese. Not that I can understand the corners speaking in English, anyway.
Junior must be a little wary of the takedown because he’s not throwing as many kicks as he did against Faber. Of course, those started in earnest in the second round so maybe that’s his M.O.
The crowd is booing—funny how people who can’t or won’t scrap have so little patience with those who do.
Aldo blasts Manvel off-kilter with one of those leg kicks and has to pull off the attack as Gamburyan appears to get poked in the eye. No official time out, though, as the action resumes. More half-hearted engagements end a subdued first round.
Give it to Aldo, 10-9, since he was the only one who mustered much aggression.
The Anvil comes shooting in for a takedown, but Aldo evades without much trouble. In responses, he lands a leg kick that sounds like it was a stinger—Manvel raises his hands in a Karate Kid gesture, proving that it did.
Gamburyan is having a dickens of a time solving the riddles that is Junior’s defense.
And he’s not gonna solve it tonight.
A massive shot sends the Anvil to the canvas face first as he tries grab a leg in defense, but he eats another crushing right hand and another as he tries to turn away. A final one knocks the consciousness from the heavily muscled judo expert and a few more land for good measure.
Junior vaults to the top of the cage right in front of the media and does his patented back flip into the center of the cage. Sure, Jose, just rub it in—not only an elite fighter, but also a fabulous all-around athlete.
Jose Aldo wins by knockout at 1:32 of the second round.
My goodness, Gamburyan passes with a hideous mouse developing under his left eye. Junior might not look like a heavy hitter, but he most assuredly is.
That performance begs the question: Now that Fedor Emelianenko took his first loss, B.J. Penn has dropped two fights in a row, the Spider is making his way back from the figurative loony bin, and Georges St-Pierre is more suffocatingly dominant than dynamically so, is Jose Aldo the most unstoppable champion at the highest echelon of mixed martial arts.
It says here, yes, and the matter’s not even close.
It wasn’t tonight.