On Saturday, May 12, 2007, OTM reports from “The Joint” inside the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in steaming hot Las Vegas for tonight’s 27th edition of World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC 27).On Saturday, May 12, 2007, OTM reports from “The Joint” inside the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in steaming hot Las Vegas for tonight’s 27th edition of World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC 27). The card went through several changes before it was finalized as the night’s original main event was intended to be WEC Lightweight Champion “Razor” Rob McCullough defending his title for the first time against Rich Crunkilton, but injuries would eventually force both fighters off the card. The card did feature one title fight, however, where the current WEC Light-Heavyweight champion Doug “Rhino” Marshall put his title on the line against XFO Light-Heavyweight champion Justin McElfresh. The fight card also included the much-anticipated WEC debut of the ever popular and always entertaining Jason “Mayhem” Miller, who would face the Japanese striker and judoka Hiromitsu Miura.
Eric Schambari vs. Art Santore (Middleweight Bout)
Even though this was the first fight of the night, it featured two of the more talented fighters on the card. Eric Schambari is a very well known force on the competitive submission grappling circuit, whose jiu-jitsu emphasis comes by way of TUF 4 champion Travis Lutter in Ft. Worth, Texas as well as resident TUF jiu-jitsu guru Marc Laimon in Las Vegas, Nevada. He would bring his undefeated 5-0 record to the WEC to face the always formidable and flashy Team Quest member Art “El Pachuco” Santore, who has not fought since last summer’s short-lived return of the WFA.
Round 1:Eric Schambari quickly shoots and scores a slick single-leg takedown to bring the fight to the ground, where he is most comfortable. Art Santore tried to apply a kimura while holding half guard, but Schambari was able to muscle out of it unscathed. Santore escaped from the ground and was able to get the fight back to his feet, but was taken down again. Schambari scooted over and had side control for a while, but Santore reversed it perfectly. Santore finished the round stuck in half guard and was able to land a few moderately clean strikes. There wasn’t a ton of action and the round was very close. OTM scored it 10-9 for Santore.
Round 2:the second round starts with another good takedown from Schambari and as he hit the ground, he wound up in Santore’s half guard. Santore is able to execute a slick, textbook sweep for the reversal and ends up in Schambari’s half guard. There’s not a whole lot of action, as both men equal each other out. Schambari wall walked up the cage and reversed it and landed a few decent elbows. Again, another extremely close round, but it seemed to be Schambari’s round due to the late flurry of elbows and punches. OTM scored it 10-9 for Schambari.
Round 3:It appears whoever wins this round, wins the fight, according to our unofficial scorecard. Both middleweights are very fatigued to start off the third round. Schambari tried another takedown, but Santore was able to sprawl and stuff the attempt. Very slow-paced third round thus far as both men appear exhausted. On the ground again; Schambari is in Santore’s full guard, but there’s not much action whatsoever. Surprisingly, the crowd is not booing the inactivity and stalling. Schambari is able to land several decent punches and elbows that seem to glance more than hit their target directly. Both guys are fighting very hard now, but they continuously thwart the other’s attacks. A large laceration opens over Santore’s left eye in his eyebrow. Schambari is smothering Santore and looks like he’s doing just a little bit more. As the fight ends, OTM scored the round 10-9 for Schambari. It was a very close, competitive fight, but OTM scored it 29-28 for Schambari. Official scores: 29-28 and 30-27 (twice) for a unanimous decision victory, that brings Eric Schambari’s record to an impressive 6-0.
Ed Ratcliff vs. Johnny Sampaio (Lightweight Bout)
Round 1:This fight should be a high-intensity lightweight war. Good single-leg takedown from Sampaio quickly, but he wound up in Radcliff’s guard. Radcliff tried but missed an armbar and within seconds, Sampaio latched onto his back for a rear naked choke. Radcliff escaped. The two were back on their feet and in a clinch when Sampaio appeared to try a judo throw, but he collapsed instantly. It turns out that he blew his left knee out; his leg completely collapsed and referee Steve Mazzagatti quickly stopped the fight. The official decision is a verbal submission win via injury at 1:31 of the opening round for Radcliff. Too bad; this was going to be an awesome fight. Replays show that Sampaio tried a judo hip toss and his left knee completely blew out. Hopefully he’ll be able to recover soon.
Brandon Foxworth vs. Manny Tapia (Bantamweight Bout)
Round 1:This fight featured two 135 pounders in Brandon Foxworth and Manny Tapia, which should prove to be explosive. Foxworth started the action by throwing a lazy left jab and Tapia countered by landing a huge right cross. Foxworth is down, but he is okay and pulls guard once Tapia tried to unload. There is a stalemate on the ground and referee Yves stands them up. Tapia drops Foxworth again with a right cross and they are back on the ground, where Foxworth pulls another closed guard. Tapia broke the guard and landed two huge right hands, while Foxworth was on his back. Tapia began bombarding Foxworth with right punches and hammer strikes. Tapia continues to pummel Foxworth with strikes, as if Foxworth owed him money. At this point I’m not sure what’s more amazing, why this fight hasn’t been stopped or what is keeping Foxworth awake? Either Tapia can’t punch too hard or Foxworth has a granite chin. The round ends with Foxworth with a reddened, puffy, swollen, and soundly beaten face. OTM scored it 10-8 for Tapia.
Round 2:Foxworth looks a little woozy to start the round and Tapia unloads punches, but misses with most of them. Foxworth looks like he’s now fighting in super slow motion and is getting beaten soundly, but he’s got plenty of heart. The two clinch along the fence for a few minutes and Tapia finally separates himself from Foxworth. Tapia lands two brutal right hands and Foxworth was on his way to Dream Town, but referee Yves jumps in to mercifully stop the bludgeoning. It was a good call on Yves’ part. The official time of the TKO for Tapia is 3:17 of the second round.
Tom Speer vs. Sidney Silva (Welterweight Bout)
Round 1:Sidney Silva landed a decent right high-kick on the left side of Tom Speer’s face to start the fight, but it wasn’t very hard and only seemed to annoy him. After a minute and a half of clinching along the fence, Silva scored a takedown and secured side mount. Speer scrambled and got back in to a clinch along the fence. Speer then scored a powerful scoop slam and is hammered away inside Silva’s half guard. Speer stood out when Silva opened his guard and after a few seconds of posturing, Speer landed a devastating right-handed bomb on the side of Silva’s jaw. He was knocked out instantly, but Speer landed three more thunderous and unnecessary punches to Silva’s face, before the referee had to interfere. Silva was down and out cold for about a minute or two, before he finally came to. It was a somewhat scary moment for him and those that saw the brutality of the impact of Speer’s blow. The official time of the knock out came at 4:33 of round one.
Marcus Hicks vs. Sergio Gomez (Lightweight Bout)
Marcus Hicks and Sergio Gomez had some trash talk with each other in the video interviews leading up to the fight, so we’ll see if that will make for a great heated battle. Both men are undefeated, so that alone adds a little more intrigue and intensity.
Round 1:Gomez started things off by landing a right hand, right at the bell, and turned that into a superb double-leg takedown. About a minute in, Hicks’ left eye is nearly swollen shut from that one punch alone. Hicks keeps scrambling, but Gomez keeps scoring double-leg takedowns. I’m not so sure if this has more to do with Gomez’ wrestling ability or Hicks’ lack thereof. The fight is intense thus far, but both men are expending tons of energy. Hicks scrambled again and took Gomez’ back, but he couldn’t secure the rear naked choke. Hick’s left eye is now completely closed with just over a minute left in the first frame. Some hard right hands from Gomez late wobbled Hicks, but he survived and scored a takedown late. This was definitely a very exciting, action-packed, opening round. OTM scored it 10-9 for Gomez.
Round 2:The second stanza stars off with yet another quick double-leg takedown scored for Gomez early in the round. It’s now a classic grappling match and the action slows just a little bit compared to the first round. Gomez was in Hicks’ guard for more than two minutes, until Hicks swept him, and brought it back to the feet. Hicks scooped up Gomez and scored a beauty of a slam and wound up in half guard. Gomez tried to scramble out and reverse Hicks, but Hicks latched on a tight guillotine choke. After several seconds, Gomez had no choice but to tap out. This was the fight of the night, thus far. The official time was 3:20 of Round 2.
Charlie Kohler vs. Sherron Leggett (Lightweight Bout)
Round 1:Decent action to start as both men trade punches, but nothing lands cleanly. Leggett scores a good takedown a minute in and lands some strikes in Kohler’s guard. After Leggett tried to scramble, Kohler utilized his jiu-jitsu prowess to sink in a deep omoplata, and he had it locked in completely. Leggett was in intense pain, but he somehow miraculously was able to escape the hold, but he found himself immediately caught in an armbar. Again, he slipped out of the submission and eventually reversed the position all together. Leggett is now in Kohler’s guard and landed some good solid strikes. Kohler is cut on his left eyebrow. Kohler tried another armbar and almost had it, but Leggett escaped and rolled into half guard. With a few seconds remaining in the round, Leggett got full mount and rained down punches, but he ran out of time. This was an excellent round filled with many near submissions and brilliant escapes. OTM scored it 10-9 for Leggett due to dominant positioning and more damage inflicted.
Round 2:The two lightweights trade blows to start the second round on the feet and eventually Leggett had Kohler pinned along the fence. Kohler dropped to his knees in an effort to escape, but Leggett was all over him. Leggett rained down a plethora of knees to the ribs and left fists to the face. Kohler couldn’t escape the barrage of punishment and after a few dozen painful strikes referee Yves Levigne stopped it. The official time of the stoppage came at 2:25 of the second round.
Gary Padilla vs. Ariel Gandulla (Light-Heavyweight Bout)
Round 1:Both light-heavyweights start by sizing each other up for a few minutes. It’s quite boring and uneventful, as there’s not much action due to both men fighting very tentatively. The entire first round saw both men stalking and landing innocent strikes, few and far between. This is a very even round, very close, and very boring. Padilla closed in late and landed two hard liver kicks a la Bas Rutten. OTM scored it 10-9 for Padilla.
Round 2:Gandulla landed a flurry of punches to start the second frame, punctuated by a right hand that wobbled Padilla. Gandulla swarmed him and when he charged in, he was hit by a hard front kick to the stomach, which sent him reeling back and on to his butt. The two scrambled on the floor and when they got back to their feet, they clinched, and Padilla unintentionally landed a fierce knee to Gandulla’s man junk. Gandulla is down and the clock has stopped. There is a five minute delay to make sure Gandulla can continue from having his nuts squashed like pistachio shells. The knee was a total accident and Gandulla only takes about 2 minutes rest and the fight continues. There’s not much action for the rest of the round save for a few flurries from Gandulla, but nothing noteworthy landed. There was very little action in this round and OTM scored it 10-9 for Gandulla.
Round 3:Both men have won a round on our unofficial scorecard, so the fight is up for grabs. Gandulla is an accomplished wrestler and judoka from Cuba, but he never once tried for a takedown. Padilla is backing away from Gandulla too much this round and that could sway the judges to think he’s either hurt or running. Gandulla only throws right hooks, but nothing that hard or clean has landed yet in this round. Gandulla is not really winning the round convincingly, but Padilla is not doing anything at all. This was a very lackluster and excruciatingly dull fight, sans the nut shot, all the way until end, which couldn’t have come any sooner. It’s a close fight, but the Cuban did more damage aside from a cut under Gandulla’s left eye very late. OTM scored the round 10-9 for Gandulla. Official scores: 29-28 Gandulla, 29-28 Padilla, 29-28 Gandulla. Gandulla won a split-decision and some in the crowd angrily boo the verdict. Perhaps they fell asleep due to the boring display of dodgeball Padilla played the entire third round to realize he did nothing to win this fight.
Jason “Mayhem” Miller vs. Hiromitsu Miura (Middleweight Bout)
Round 1:Mayhem entered the cage in a suit and tie, giving off the effect that he was going to work and was all business. Mayhem started out with several hard legs kicks and then scored a double leg takedown. Mayhem quickly scored full mount and then transitioned over to a rear naked choke. Miura defended it well. Mayhem has a tight body triangle from behind and tries another rear naked choke. Most of the round took place along the fence with Mayhem on Miura’s back landing glancing strikes and trying for rear naked chokes. Not much else in the form of any action. OTM scores it 10-9 Mayhem.
Round 2:Mayhem and Miura come out striking early in the second frame. Mayhem, known for his conditioning, actually looks tired. Not much action, but Miura is getting the best of Mayhem on the feet. Mayhem looks confused as the round wears away. Mayhem tried to shoot in for a takedown, but it was a poor attempt. Mayhem looks very tired while Miura looks as fresh as a spring chicken. Mayhem tried for another takedown, but he was stuffed and thrown with an impressive judo throw from the judoka Miura. Miura followed up by landing several stinging blows at the bell. OTM scored it 10-9 for Miura.
Round 3:Crucial round for each man. Mayhem kicked Miura right square in the jimmy, but it was totally unintentional. Miura is down and grimacing in pain. It was a brutal kick to man town, but it was clearly an accident. Miura is lying on his back trying to regain his strength. Miura might not be able to continue; he is still down writhing in severe pain. Replays show how vicious the kick was. After three or so minutes, Miura finally sits up. OTM doesn’t see how this fight will continue. Miura needs the strength of ten elephants and possibly a hippopotamus as the recovery time is almost expired. Referee Steve Mazzagatti is warning Miura’s corner that time is almost up. The fight is finally back on. Miura appears reenergized and rejuvenated. Miura dove in for a kneebar, but Mayhem quickly stuffed him and applied a figure-four body lock. Mayhem latches on a deep banana split a la Eddie Bravo, but somehow Miura escaped. In doing so, he wound up caught in a rear naked choke. Miura is defending properly, but he can’t break free from the body triangle that Mayhem has on him. Miura stretched out Mayhem’s left arm and escaped the rear naked choke. Miura escapes and is back on his feet. They clinch along the fence and Miura goes for the gusto; he needs a KO to win. Miura returns an earlier favor with two knees to the groin that hurt Mayhem, but time expires and the fight is stopped. Time runs out for Miura and it seems as though Mayhem has done enough to win the fight. This is a fight that needs a fourth or possibly fifth round. It was a superb demonstration of grappling. OTM scored it 10-9 for Mayhem. Official scores: 29-28 (all) unanimous decision victory for the crowd favorite Jason “Mayhem” Miller.
Doug “Rhino” Marshall vs. Justin McElfresh (Light-Heavyweight Championship Bout)
Round 1:Justin McElfresh starts off by landing some pesky right jabs that do nothing more than bother the Rhino, Doug Marshall. After a little while, Rhino starts running wild, much like his namesake, by unloading vicious leg kicks. Instead of using his substantial reach advantage, McElfresh mistakenly starts to close in on the smaller Rhino. This is a move that might not be wise and could prove to be quite costly. Rhino then lands a couple loopy overhand rights a la Chuck Liddell that seem to stun McElfresh. The two clinch and McElfresh can’t deliver his knees from in close. Rhino lands several more powerful overhand rights. One lands hard behind McElfresh’s ear and he crumbles to the mat, landing face first. The fight is over as the champ triumphantly defends his title. The official time of the knock out is 2:16 of the first round. Rhino keeps his Light-Heavyweight WEC title and proves to be a force to be reckoned with at 205.