Universally ranked number one featherweight and perennial pound for pound contender Urijah Faber paid a dear price for taking a risk in his WEC 36 title defense against Mike brown. Faber started the fight sharply, looking the quicker and more accurate striker. The worry for him in this fight was that the larger Brown would be able to muscle him around and grind out a win. This turned out not to be the case as the smaller Faber held his own in the clinch and most exchanges. Around 2 minutes into the fight Brown shot in on Faber, who was against the cage and took him down. In the blink of an eye Faber stood back up and launched an outswinging right elbow, just missing. Brown reacted devastatingly by sidestepping and swinging a right hand round into Faber’s chin, dropping him to the canvas. The American Top Team powerhouse followed him to the ground where he controlled his body and landed several unanswered blows to force a referee stoppage. Faber will rue his mistake and Brown will see the recognition he deserves as a top level fighter. A rematch will no doubt already be in the pipeline for the WEC’s poster boy.
Having missed the weight limit for the middleweight division and forced their bout to be a non-title affair, Paulo Filho felt Chael Sonnen’s wrath in a rematch of their WEC 31 fight. Throughout, Filho was unable to take the standout wrestler down or close the distance to strike. Sonnen peppered the Brazilian from the outside with weak jabs and fended off his stocky opponent’s takedown attempts. A fairly boring unanimous decision for Sonnen was the outcome after 3 rounds. Filho for his part looked completely disinterested in the fight and paid a dear price for failing to develop his striking skills past just swinging hard as he could. After missing weight by a full 7 pounds, questions will be raised about the previously undefeated submission expert’s motivation and whether his battle with substance abuse and depression is over.
Leonard Garcia served notice of his presence with a powerhouse performance against former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver. In a fight that always looked good on paper, both fighters threw heavy leather from the start. Shortly thereafter Garcia landed a solid right hand which hurt Pulver, sending him reeling against the fence. He followed up by heaving his hardest shots at a faltering Pulver until he fell and the fight was stopped. Two fights in the WEC and two superb quick stoppages leave Garcia looking an excellent prospect for future champion. Many will question how much Pulver has left to offer after this fight, but in truth there’s little shame in losing to the rising star that is Garcia. A fight with Hiroyuki Takaya next may be a possibility.
Jake Rosholt and Nissen Osterneck showed their incredible talents in a rousing rookie battle at middleweight. Osterneck used excellent boxing to put a hurting on Rosholt every time the two were stood up. Rosholt showed a fantastic chin and the grit you’d expect from one of the best wrestlers of the last decade, and one of the brightest prospects in MMA. Periodically, despite taking an almighty whooping on the feet, Rosholt would grind down Osterneck with his top control and ground and pound. Osterneck went for the kill in the second round, hammering his opponents face with straight punches but gassing out in doing so. Rosholt capitalized by taking Osterneck down, passing his guard to mount and maintaining the position whilst raining down shots until the fight was called by the referee. Osterneck showed his quality with some impressive attempted sweeps from the bottom and striking. In the end Rosholt just out muscled him. Both young fighters will learn a lot from this fight.
Highlights of the preliminary bouts included a vicious right hand KO in only 18 seconds as Aaron Simpson sparked out David Avellan. Also, curiously on the undercard, was a fight of the year contender between Donald Cerrone and Rob McCullough.
Also, in preliminary bouts:
Jose Aldo def. Jonathan Brookings via TKO (strikes) — Round 3, 0:45
Carmelo Marrero def. Steve Steinbess via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Danny Castillo def. Rafael Dias via TKO (strikes) — Round 2, 2:54
Rani Yayha def. Yoshiro Maeda via submission (guillotine choke) — Round 1, 3:30