WEC 51: "Aldo vs. Gamburyan" has come to a close from the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colorado, and Jose Aldo's reign over the featherweight division will continue.
The feared Brazilian striker turned in another dominating performance, this time over ex-UFC fighter and TUF 5 finalist Manny Gamburyan.
The challenger came out looking to trade strikes with the champ in the early going, and once again Aldo showed why that is never a good idea. "Junior" brutalized and frustrated Gamburyan with a series of leg kicks in the first round that hurt just watching.
Manny came out looking for takedowns in the second round, and who could blame him? However, the champ was ready for that attack, too, and he started lighting the Armenian up with counter punches and short uppercuts when he would shoot in. It was a second uppercut that eventually dropped the challenger early in the second round, and it didn't take long for Aldo to pounce and finish him off from there.
This was the second title defense and eighth win overall inside the WEC cage for the Brazilian, and he gets better every time we see him. He was as impressive as ever tonight, and there doesn't appear to be anyone in the WEC who can stop the twenty-four year old phenom.
That belt may be his for a long time.
In the co-main event, Arizona Combat Sports trainee Jamie Varner and Greg Jackson pupil Donald Cerrone met up in a rematch of bitter rivals. Their first encounter ended in controversy as Varner was awarded a split decision after he was unable to continue following an illegal strike from Cerrone in the fifth round.
There would be no controversy on this night.
"Cowboy" surprised Varner with takedowns and then came through on his feet with a quality stand up attack in what turned out to be a dominating one-sided decision victory. Varner hung tough and got off with some power punches, but he was clearly surprised by Cerrone's gameplan and he never got comfortable in the fight.
Perhaps Mr. Jackson deserves some credit for the gameplan, but Cerrone's execution is was what won him the fight. He didn't waste anytime jumping on Varner early and he kept up a fast pace for the full fifteen minutes. He wasn't successful with every takedown attempt, but he did manage to put "C-4" on his back enough times to keep the former champion guessing when he was on his feet.
There was a brief moment of respect shown before the start of the third round when the two fighters tapped gloves, but immediately after the final bell they were right back to their old tricks.
In his post fight interview Cerrone offered a potential rubber match to Varner in his home state of Arizona, and there's no doubt in my mind that the WEC will eventually set that one up. So far they're two for two with quality fights, why not make it a trilogy?
Former bantamweight king Miguel Torres came into tonight on the heels of dropping back to back fights for the first time in his career. It's safe to say he need a win badly.
He got one.
Charlie Valencia was the sacrificial lamb. He had no answer for the former champ's 76 inch reach, and he spent most of the fight circling away from jabs and trying to land power shots.
Torres made it look easy, methodically picking his opponent apart from the outside. He would go on to knock Valencia down for the second time in the fight midway through the second round, and from there he quickly went to work with his crafty submission game.
Valencia was forced into giving up his back and within seconds Torres had him tapping out to a rear naked choke. It was exactly the kind of win Torres needed to show the WEC fans and bantamweight fighters that he is still a force in the division. After the fight he reminded everybody that he is still only 29 years old with plenty of room to improve.
That's a scary thought.
South Korean import Chan Sung Jung had a lot to live up to coming into tonight's fight against TUF 8 alum George Roop after debuting for the promotion back in April with a "fight of the year" worthy performance in a loss to Leonard Garcia.
Unfortunately for the "Korean Zombie," he would not only fall short of living up to those expectations, but he would also find himself on the losing end for the second straight time.
Roop used his reach advantage to keep Jung at a distance and minimize the damage he could do with his explosive combinations. Nearing the midway point in the second round, Roop found his opening, perfectly timing a counter head kick right on Jung's knockout button.
The Korean crumbled like a ton of bricks and Roop came away with the first win of his WEC career in highlight reel fashion.
Jung's counterpart in that memorable battle from WEC 48 was also in action tonight, as Garcia took on 28 year old Canadian Mark Hominick in the opening fight of the Versus telecast.
And like Jung, Garcia would come up short on the night.
"The Machine" worked the Greg Jackson product over with jabs and counter hooks for most of the fight, out-boxing the former number one contender en route to a split decision victory. I didn't think the fight was as close as the final score suggests, but Garcia stayed game throughout the three rounds and slung enough punches to impress at least one of the three judges.
Regardless of the score, though, Hominick was the victor, and the win makes three in a row for the talented Canuck.
In undercard action, American Top Team trainee and ex-featherweight champion Mike Thomas Brown did all he could to erase the memory of a knockout loss to Gamburyan back in April by making quick work of Cole Province with a first round technical knockout.
Chris "The Polish Hammer" Horodecki and Chinese mixed martial arts standout Tiequan Zhang were also victorious on the undercard, defeating Ed Ratcliff and Pablo Garza, respectively.
For our blow-by-blow coverage of the main card click here.
Next up for the promotion is a return trip to "Sin City" for WEC 52: "Faber vs. Mizugaki" on November 11.
Former featherweight title holder Urijah "The California Kid" Faber will headline the card in his debut fight as a bantamweight opposite former number one contender Takaya Mizugaki. Josh Grispi, Brian Bowles, Eddie Wineland, Damacio Page and others will also be in action.
Stay tuned to MMAmania.com for more on that developing fight card.