On January 20, 2007, there was a new chapter written in the history of World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC). Zuffa Incorporated, the parent company of the UFC produced their first show since acquiring the WEC in late 2006.On January 20, 2007, there was a new chapter written in the history of World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC). Zuffa Incorporated, the parent company of the UFC produced their first show since acquiring the WEC in late 2006. The 25th installment of the WEC took place at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, which is no stranger to MMA having hosted many UFC shows including the season finale’s for both season 3 and 4 of The Ultimate Fighter reality shows in June and November of 2006.
In some people’s estimations, it appears that Zuffa may in fact be building up the WEC as it’s version of Bushido, a show which PRIDE uses to showcase it’s smaller fighters in the Bantamweight, Featherweight, and Lightweight categories with fights in these categories scattered through Saturday night’s card.WEC 25 – Las Vegas was headlined with two title fights. The first featured current WEC Featherweight champion Urijah “California Kid” Faber vs. Joe Pearson.
The second title fight was fir the vacant WEC Lightweight championship, which pitted two of the most decorated Muay Thai fighters in Mixed Martial Arts today, “Razor” Rob McCullough vs. Kit Cope. The under card also featured some big names from MMA, such as UFC veteran John Alessio, Rich Crunkilton, Brian Gassaway, Alex Karalexis, and Logan Clark, as well as Rumble on the Rock standout Carlos Condit, Antonio Banuelos from Chuck Liddell’s PIT, and KOTC veteran Brendan Seguin.
Here’s a brief play-by-play and summary of Saturday night’s fights:
The first fight of the night featured savvy UFC and MMA veteran Rich Crunkilton, who some may remember as the guy that made Karo Parisyan famous in Karo’s UFC debut, after Karo put on an exciting Judo display not common in MMA. However, Saturday night Crunkilton proved to have some creative submission skills of his own by submitting his opponent Mike Joy with a slick Darce Choke at 4:23 of Round 3.
The second fight of the night featured a pair of 135 lb. Bantamweights in Antonio Banuelos who trains in San Luis Obispo, CA at the PIT with Chuck Liddell vs. Militech Fighting Systems trained Mike French. The fight went the distance, but was highlighted ironically by Banuelos’ Matt Hughes-like slam on the Militech fighter. After picking French up onto his shoulder, Banuelos carried French across the ring, and punctuated the takedown by viciously slamming French headfirst into the canvas solidifying his dominant Unanimous Decision victory.
The third fight of the night featured a very tough Carlos Condit from Albuquerque, whom I met last summer during the K-1 open trials at the Bellagio where he was the definitive standout vs. MMA veteran Kyle Jensen. This fight didn’t last on the feet very long as Jensen looked to secure an early Guillotine Choke. As he tried to secure it within his closed guard, Carlos slid his head out and began some Ground n’ Pound, until he took Jensen’s back and ended the fight with a Rear Naked Choke early in Round 1.
The fourth fight of the night was the most technically dominant of the night as Cobra Kai’s Alex Karalexis systematically dismantled Olaf Alfonso in every aspect of the fight game. The Ultimate Fighter season 1 veteran with Marc Laimon in his corner displayed a much tighter display of MMA than most can remember, as he took Alfonso down, passed his guard, put him in submission danger, all while reigning an immense amount of punishment down on his opponent. At 3:53 of Round 2 the referee stopped the fight after the doctor’s did not feel comfortable in letting Alfonso continue due to the deep cuts on his face and the bridge of his nose.
The fifth fight of the night featured a battle of Middleweights in Brandon Seguin and Fernando Gonzalez. The King of the Cage veteran Seguin secured takedowns and maintained a dominant top position throughout the fight. He made sure to immobilize Gonzalez’ guard, as Gonzalez appeared to be using his guard to survive rather than to attack throughout the fight. When it was all said and done Seguin gritted out a Unanimous Decision for the win.The sixth fight of the night featured two undefeated fighters. UFC veteran Logan Clark who trains with UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk in Minnesota vs. local favorite Blas Avena who trains with Mica. The fighters kept it interesting through the first two rounds with Round 1 going to Avena and Round 2 going to Clark. However midway through round 3 Clark picked up the pace and intensity by dishing out some brutal Ground n’ Pound to avoid having the fight go to the judges. The referee stopped the fight with only 37 seconds left, because he felt Avena was not adequately defending himself.
The seventh fight of the night featured two welterweights who are both veterans of the UFC sharing one common link, they both have faced top UFC contender Diego Sanchez unsuccessfully. However on this night the Canadian boxer/jiu-jitsu man John “The Natural” Alessio would leave doubt in no ones minds, as he too Gassaway’s back, through some heavy leather, and secured the Rear Naked Choke for a dominant submission victory with 10 seconds left in Round 1.
The eight fight of the night was the first title fight. It featured the current Featherweight champion and WEC poster-boy Urijah “California Kid” Faber vs. Joe Pearson. In the pre-fight commentary Urijah claimed he would dominate this fight in every aspect of the fight game and that is exactly what he did. Showing his tremendous wrestling ability and explosiveness, he wasted no time imposing his will on Pearson with several powerful takedowns. From inside Pearson’s guard Faber unleashed so much punishment, Pearson tapped out as it appeared Faber was sitting and admiring his work. When someone asked why Pearson tapped, the only conclusion was that the California Kid appeared to have broken Pearson face, orbital socket or the like. Urijah continues to show his potential and every MMA fan should tune into any event he appears on in the future.
The ninth and final fight of the night featured two of the most accomplished Muay Thai fighters competing in MMA today. The prize was the vacant WEC Lightweight title. In one corner was Kit Cope who gained a lot of popularity after he appeared on MTV’s “True Life: I’m a Muay Thai fighter” show. He also has an impressive Muay Thai career, which features a win over the late Alex Gong. In the other corner featured “Razor” Rob McCullough who is the Muay Thai instructor in Huntington Beach, CA for fighter such as Tito Ortiz, Ricco Rodriguez, Tiki Ghosen, Zack Light and many others. He earned his nickname “Razor” for his devastating leg kicks that tear through his opponent’s thighs. This fight had been talked about for years amongst diehard MMA fans and finally came into fruition Saturday night. What was expected to be a stand-up war quickly hit the ground, after Razor go the better of Kit on the feet. Once on the ground, many expected Kit to be clueless, but he was surprised any that may have doubted him. he quickly began an Eddie Bravo-like rubber guard securing an omoplata. Razor showed his composure and began dropping more bombs on Kit. Kit then transitioned giving his best Shinya Aoki impersonation looking for a gogoplata. Razor turned his head away from Kit’s Muay Thai callused shin and dropped more hands. Then Kit tried to transition into a leglock, but Razor quickly countered inflicting more Ground n’ Pound. At this point Kit verbally tapped holding onto his ribs. A combination of his quirky movements on the ground with Razor’s relentless strikes ended this fight in just 2:53 of Round 1.
WEC 25 – Las Vegas (January 20, 2007) Match Winner Loser Method Round Time
1 Richard Crunkilton over Mike Joy Submission (Darce Choke) Round 3, 4:23
2 Antonio Banuelos over Mike French Decision (Unanimous) Round 3, 5:00
3 Carlos Condit over Kyle Jensen Submission (Rear Naked Choke) Round 1, 2:10
4 Alex Karalexis over Olaf Alfonso TKO (Referee Stoppage) Round 2, 3:53
5 Brendan Seguin over Fernando Gonzalez Decision (Unanimous) Round 3, 5:00
6 Logan Clark over Blas Avena TKO (Referee Stoppage) Round 3, 4:23
7 John Alessio over Brian Gassaway Submission (Rear Naked Choke) Round 1, 4:50
8 Urijah Faber over Joe Pearson Submission (Strikes) Round 1, 2:31
9 Rob McCullough over Kit Cope Submission (Strikes) Round 1, 2:53