The final WEC performance of its most popular fighter ever was one of his best.
Urijah Faber debuted in the bantamweight division with a dominant performance over Takeya Mizugaki en route to a submission victory in the first round of the main event of WEC 52 on Thursday.
It marked a clean sweep for the members of the Team Alpha Male camp at WEC 52, as Faber's teammates Chad Mendes and Joseph Benavidez were also victorious.
Faber was able to keep the distance close in his fight against Mizugaki, and got Mizugaki controlled up against the cage. Mizugaki reversed for a moment until Faber was able to hop on his back and wrestle him down to the ground. Faber maintained position and was able to sink in a rear naked choke.
It was a scary moment as Faber had the choke in tight, and a check on Mizugaki by referee Josh Rosenthal showed that Mizugaki was out cold and Rosenthal called off the fight at 4:50 of the first round. Mizugaki remained down for several moments before ultimately regaining consciousness, much to everyone's delight.
"The Japanese have that fighting spirit, and this guy is known for being a guy who goes to the end, so I knew I'd need to do something drastic to take him out," Faber said after the fight.
Faber was emotional after the win, realizing this was it for him in the WEC.
"It's been an awesome run for the WEC. I love these guys. But it's time to step it up and get my belt in the UFC and live my dreams," said Faber.
Faber ends his run in the WEC with a 9-3 record, while Mizugaki ends his run at 2-3.
In the night's semi-main event, Chad Mendes outwrestled and controlled Javier Vazquez on the ground to a unanimous decision on straight 30-27 scores.
Vazquez continued to pull guard throughout the fight, but the ground and pound from Mendes was just too much for Vazquez. Mendes smothered Vazquez from top and avoided the submissions to grind out a victory.
It was the 9th straight victory for Mendes to start his MMA career.
In another featured bout, the third member of the Team Alpha Male camp, Joseph Benavidez, submitted jiu-jitsu ace Wagnney Fabiano with a guillotine choke in the second round. Benavidez and Fabiano had a striking battle in the first round that was fairly evenly matched, but in the second round, Benavidez attempted several tries at the guillotine before sinking it in on the third attempt.
Benavidez bounced back from his August loss to Dominik Cruz and showed no sign that the short layoff had any effect.
"I'm always in shape, and I have my two brothers. I thought it was a great matchup for me, so I took it. I fight. That's what I do," Benavidez said after the fight.
In other fights on the main card, Eric Koch scored his second straight win after knocking out late replacement Francisco Rivera with a head kick followed by punches on the ground, ending the fight at 1:36 in the first round.
Another late replacement, Demetrious Johnson, scored his second straight win over Damacio Page, who returned from a 13-month layoff. Page controlled Johnson on the ground in the first round, but Johnson regrouped during the round break and came out mixing his strikes to take the second round.
In the third round, with Page tiring and wearing down, Johnson was able to score a takedown and secured a guillotine choke for the submission win at the 2:27 mark of the round.
In the night's preliminary bouts, Cub Swanson and Mackens Semerzier had a back and forth battle on the feet and on the ground. They stood and traded throughout the entire opening frames of the fight, and were met with a standing ovation from the crowd.
It was a close fight, and a third round takedown and rear naked choke attempt by Semerzier seemed to win him the fight, but the judges ultimately ruled in favor of Swanson, who won a split decision on 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28 scores.
The bout between Zach Micklewright and Dustin Poirier promised fireworks, and it delivered. Poirier came out and wobbled Micklewright with some shots and got Micklewright up against the cage, before delivering more than 20 unanswered shots before referee Kim Winslow called it off at 53 seconds into the first round. Micklewright, visibly hurt, crumbled to the ground after it was called off.
In other action, Anthony Njokuani, Raphael Assuncao, Michael McDonald and Yves Jabouin all picked up victories in their preliminary fights, and securing themselves fights in the UFC.
The full results from WEC 52:
Urijah Faber defeated Takeya Mizugaki by submission (rear naked choke) at 4:50 of round 1.
Chad Mendes defeated Javier Vazquez by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Eric Koch defeated Francisco Rivera by TKO (strikes) at 1:36 of round 1.
Joseph Benavidez defeated Wagnney Fabiano by submission (guillotine choke) at 2:45 of round 2.
Demetrious Johnson defeated Damacio Page by submission (guillotine choke) at 2:27 of round 3.
Raphael Assuncao defeated LC Davis by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Anthony Njokuani defeated Edward Faaloloto by TKO (strikes) at 4:54 of round 2.
Dustin Poirier defeated Zach Micklewright by TKO (punches) at 0:53 of round 1.
Michael McDonald defeated Clint Godfrey by submission (armbar) at 2:42 of round 1.
Cub Swanson defeated Mackens Semerzier by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
Yves Jabouin defeated Brandon Visher by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Stay tuned for more coverage on WEC 52, as well as news from the MMA world.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!