In a fight that was destined to be a stand up war, all it took was a perfect left hook by Brian Stann to drop Doug Marshall for good in the main event of tonight's WEC 33 to capture the 205-pound title.
The result came in 1:35 of the very first round via technical knockout in a fight that began with both men looking to find their range in the early going. Stann -- using his three inch reach advantage -- kept Marshall at bay until the two met in the clinch.
It was in the clinch where it was the beginning of the end for Marshall.
Both men were trading big shots back and forth at the break until Stann caught Marshall with the left hook. It was from there with Marshall on the ground, Stann would deliver two more big shots until referee Herb Dean stopped the fight.
From there it was a sign of emotion as Stann would go on one knee and was in tears after the victory. The future is bright for Stann who is just six fights deep into his professional mixed martial arts career and he is already a champion.
As for Marshall, look for him to get back up and climb the ladder for another shot at Stann. Marshall showed the class of a former champion by helping wrap the strap around the new titleholder.
Pure class from the former champion, but tonight was a good night to be a Marine.
With everything to lose, including a title shot, Chael Sonnen put on a clinic against up and comer Brian Baker. From the first minute of the fight and on, Sonnen took control with relentless takedowns and brutal ground and pound. Sonnen would deliver devastating elbows and punches from the guard of Baker to end the first round.
In the second, it was much as the same as Sonnen once again took the fight to the ground. Even toward the middle of the second Sonnen delivered an exciting suplex while transitioning into Baker's guard. It was from there that Sonnen continued to pull away with textbook ground and pound.
In the final stanza Sonnen did not relent as he continued to takedown Baker and overwhelm him en route to a dominating decision win. The scores tallied 30-26, 30-25, 30-25 and now Sonnen looks to redeem himself in a rematch with current WEC Middleweight Champion Paulo Filho sometime later this year.
Give credit for Baker to withstand the barrage of Sonnen to be there until the final bell. The future is bright for Baker and it will be a learning experience for him. With this win, Sonnen can make a case of being one of the most underrated middleweights in the world and will certainly give Filho problems in the rematch like he did in their first encounter before getting caught.
In lightweight action, Marcus Hicks solidified his place as possibly next in line for a title shot. Being the aggressor for most of the fight, Hicks delivered haymakers that landed on the chin of Ed "9 MM" Ratcliff. Hicks dropped Ratcliff with overhand lefts and right, almost ending the fight on two occasions with the guillotine choke.
Hicks then landed one more left hand haymaker that dropped Ratcliff to the canvas as and sunk in a guillotine choke to end the fight at 1:42 left in the first round. Hicks ends the undefeated streak of Ratcliff and preserves his own undefeated record.
Look out for the "Wrecking Ball," Jamie Varner.
Also on the card, Sergio Gomez and Richard Crunkilton engaged in a lightweight war that ended with a unanimous decision win for Crunkilton. It was a night for takedowns, as Crunkilton would takedown Gomez with ease and was in dominant positions for most of the fight. He would also deliever a big elbow in one of those exchanges on the ground, opening a big gash on the back of Gomez' head.
Gomez' best opportunity to win the fight was on the feet where he was getting the better of those exchanges. But it was Crunkilton who would weather the storm and dropped Gomez to the ground once again on both occasions.
Gomez showed a lot of heart but it wasn't enough on this night.
The night started off with a bang as Steve Cantwell and Tim McKenzie went toe-to-toe standing. Cantwell was stalking McKenzie from the opening bell and was looking to bang. Cantwell then threw left head kick that forced McKenzie to shoot for a takedown. But Cantwell was having none of it as he sprawled back to his feet where he felt comfortable.
Cantwell then threw another high kick that rocked McKenzie and it was textbook from there. Cantwell would clinch with McKenzie and deliver knees that knocked McKenzie to the ground. Cantwell would then pounce on McKenzie and gained full mount. With no where to go and getting peppered with shots by Cantwell, McKenzie gave up his back.
Cantwell then applied the rear naked choke for a submission victory in the first round. The light heavyweight division is very thin when it comes to contenders, and Cantwell could very well be in the mix.
All in all, a great night of fights that saw only two of the five fights going to decision. Marcus Hicks and Chael Sonnen are now at the front of the contender line in their respective divisions. And Steve Cantwell and Brian Baker showed that they are the future of the WEC even though both men had mixed results tonight.
Brian Stann and Doug Marshall gave the fans what they came to see. Yet in the end, the former Marine pulled through once again like he did for his country and is now champion.
The sky's the limit for Stann, and only time will tell how far he can go. With one hell of a chin and a determination that cannot be measured; Stann is one fighter to watch out for in the WEC.
For complete results of all the WEC 33 action this evening, including the under card bouts, click here.