Thursday, September 6, 2007

WEC 30: Put It in the Books

Overall, this was an excellent two hours. Lots of action, plenty of young stars, two title fights, great commentary. No complaints here.

I particularly appreciate the efforts made by the WEC to educate the fans about the divisions and champions. I thought the short video highlights were well made. Nothing cheesy. Frank Mir and Todd Harris did a very nice job, especially Mir, who speaks with an articulate authority that I think benefits both novice and long-time fans. Let’s get to the fights.

“Razor” Rob McCullough vs. Richard “Cleat” Crunkilton – For whatever reason, Crunkilton, who has great takedowns and fights well on the ground, decided to trade shots with the champ, whose not only a highly decorated striker, but also happens to have a 2” reach advantage. Bad idea.

Razor Rob did not extend his hand to touch gloves with Crunkilton at the opening bell, which I happened to enjoy quite a bit. Crunkilton responded with a kick that Razor Rob caught and answered with a hard right hand. Crunkilton stood in front of Razor Rob and let his hands and feet go, but was dropped with punishing shots from the champ. Razor Rob stuffed takedown attempts from the dazed Crinkilton, punched him some more (hard!), dazed him, dropped him, and left Herb Dean no choice but to call the fight after just a minute and a half of action. If I know Razor Rob the way I think I do, I'm sure he had an awesome after party.

Chase Beebe vs. Rani Yahya – Yahya’s jiu-jitsu in the first round was a fast, furious treat. He relentlessly worked for chokes and knee bars against a very defensive Beebe. Having dropped down from featherweight, Yahya looked strong and explosive, especially on the ground. In Round Two, Beebe secured an early guillotine, took Yahya down. At that point, you could literally see Yahya’s pace - and breathing - start to slow.

Yahya continued to work for submissions against a very tough, very resilient champion in Chase Beebe, who took Yahya’s back a few times and all but broke Yahya’s spirit once he started landing shots to the head and face later in the second round. For the rest of the fight, a spent Yahya was outworked and overpowered by the more well-rounded, more fit Beebe, who retained his bantamweight belt.

“All American” Brian Stann vs. Jeremiah Billington – Brian Stann was too much man for the 5’8”, 195-pound Billington and racked up his fifth first-round TKO victory in as many pro fights. Stann pinned Billington against the cage, stuffed his takedown attempts, hit him with thunderous knees and punches from inside the clinch, slammed him down, and punished him some more before the fight was called at 3:07 of the first round. Is it me, or does WEC referee Josh Rosenthal look a little like Henry Rollins?

This fight was as one-sided as many may have expected, but Stann gave his fans just what they wanted to see and certainly pushed himself into the top contender spot for the light heavyweight division. As for Billington, I’d like to see him at middleweight. He was a little soft at 195 and is short for the 205-lb. division, but he did manage to land some solid uppercuts and showed no fear against the larger, stronger crowd favorite in Stann. Just an idea.

Joe Benoit vs. Blas “The Disciple” Avena - Avena secured a guillotine within seconds of the opening bell, brought down Benoit into a closed guard, and forced him to tap 15 seconds later. Not much else to say really.

Bryan “The Beast” Baker vs. Jesse “Kid Hercules” Forbes – Both middleweights came out banging, and it seemed to me that Forbes was getting the better of the stand-up exchange. He landed some good looking knees, he put a few punches on Baker’s chin (and actually dropped him early on), backed him up against the cage, scored the takedown, and worked for the guillotine.

Then Baker took over, body slamming Forbes hard onto the mat, avoiding damage on the ground, and working some nasty ground-and-pound. At one point, Baker pinned Forbes’ arms down and hit him with a head butt. Baker continued to punish Forbes with unanswered shots, and referee Herb Dean rightfully stepped in and called the fight with 45 seconds left in the first round. This was fun to watch.

Miguel “El Angel” Torres vs. Jeff “Lil Popeye” Bedard – Bedard did his best to keep the action on the ground, which seemed to be no problem for the much taller Torres, who kept Bedard in his guard (that rhymes), fed him some elbows, and secured a pretty slick triangle half way through the first round. What I liked most about this fight was how Torres seamlessly jumped from an armbar attempt to the triangle. Smooth.

As for the untelevised bouts, the results are as follows, courtesy of

John Alessio def. Marcelo Brito by unanimous decision, Rd. 3
Marcus Hicks sub. Scott McAfee (guillotine choke) at 2:13, Rd. 1
Donald Cerrone sub. Kenneth Alexander (triangle choke) at 0:56, Rd. 1
Ian McCall TKO Coty Wheeler (strikes) at 4:34, Rd. 3

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