Ben Henderson Unifies The lightweight Titles With Victory Over Jamie Varner
It may not have been the epic five round encounter that saw him claim the interim title against Donald Cerrone last year, but Ben Henderson got the job done inside the distance over Jamie Varner, and is now the WEC’s undisputed lightweight champion.
The bout started off almost as a mirror image of his previous one as Varner caught him in a tight guillotine, but Henderson once again showed his apparent immunity to submissions by surviving the attempt, even when his opponent successfully connected with a knee to his face for good measure. The rest of the first two rounds played out fairly evenly, with Henderson appearing somewhat tentative which allowed Varner to gain a slight edge with more effective striking and a couple of successful takedowns.
The third round looked like being more of the same as Varner shot in an attempt to notch up another point-scoring takedown. Henderson had other ideas however, and seized the brief window of opportunity to cinch in an arm-in guillotine choke. Unlike Henderson, Varner’s resistance to the submission was remarkably brief and within seconds he was tapping out.
Henderson has now claimed two major scalps in the space of a few months, but there is still room for improvement if he now wants to keep the belt in the longer term. Though his ability to survive submission attempts is impressive, he must surely be concerned with the regularity with which he finds himself trapped in them. Also, though his cool, calm and collected style in the cage bodes well for his ability to last the full five rounds, he has to ensure that it doesn’t come at the expense of his work-rate, particularly in the stand-up exchanges.
It will be interesting to see what happens next in the 155lb division. A rematch with Cerrone may now be on the horizon for Henderson, but ‘The Cowboy’ himself admits he wants to fight Varner. The WEC might also be keen to set up that anticipated rematch now, with the winner going on to get another shot at Henderson’s title.
Urijah Faber Earns Another Title Shot After Submitting Raphael Assuncao
On paper this was a risky fight for Urijah Faber as he looked to get back to winning ways against another top 10 featherweight contender in Raphael Assuncao. In the end he served a reminder of just how good he is by controlling the fight throughout, and then ending it inside the distance by submitting the BJJ black belt with a rear-naked choke.
As well as showing his trademark speed, Faber also displayed that despite breaking his hands in his last bout that he still has power in them, dropping Assuncao in the third. Coupled with some solid ground and pound, and the submission victory this was an all-round accomplished performance for ‘The California Kid’.
After the fight it was confirmed that Faber would indeed be current featherweight champion Jose Aldo’s next opponent in what should be the biggest fight on the WEC’s calender in 2010, and perhaps the perfect bout to launch their first Pay Per View event.
Kamal Shalorus Impresses With His Wrestling More Than His Striking Against Dave Jansen
I was surprised going into this event that some people were favoring Dave Jansen’s wrestling over former olympic wrestler and, at one stage, top 10 freestyle wrestler in the world Kamal Shalorus. Perhaps the Iranian’s tendency to win his fights via his striking had distracted people’s attention from his other credentials, but after last night’s performance it would have become apparent that Shalorus is the real deal when it comes to grappling.
His takedown defense was impeccable as he showed tremendous natural balance, and a lightning quick sprawl. On the rare occasion in which he decided to take Jansen down, he did so effortlessly, no mean feat considering his opponent is no slouch in the wrestling department. It was a joy to watch – a stark contrast to his striking which still leaves a lot to be desired. Though he is heavy-handed, the huge wind-up and follow through in every punch he throws are just waiting to be countered by a more technical striker in the future.
Hopefully he will work diligently to improve his striking before his next fight as he certainly has potential.
Mike Brown Back On Track With Win Over Anthony Morrison
You would have been hard pressed to find someone backing Anthony Morrison in this fight, and if there were any fears that Mike Brown might slip up against newcomer Anthony Morrison they were quickly dispelled as the former champion wasted no time in taking this fight to the mat, and submitting him by RNC in just under two minutes of the first round.
Though Brown will likely be desperate to get the opportunity to reclaim the featherweight title, he will have to wait his turn, with Urijah Faber set to get the first crack at Jose Aldo. Whoever wins that one is almost certain to fight Brown though, which sets up the division nicely for the WEC in 2010.
Mackens Semerzier Falls Short Against Deividas Taurosevicius
After producing a major upset by submitting highly regarded BJJ black belt Wagnney Fabiano in his last bout, hopes were high that Mackens Semerzier could be the next big thing in the featherweight division. Deividas Taurosevicius obviously didn’t get that memo however, and he comfortably earned a unanimous decision victory.
Taurosevicius showed his experience by fighting smart, controlling Semerzier on the ground for large spells and staying alert for the expected submission attempts, which turned out to be few and far between. He also picked his shots carefully on the feet and kept moving, giving Semerzier little opportunity to show off his own striking ability.
Semerzier came on stronger in the third round but it was too little too late. Only six fights into his career, perhaps the defeat will prove a blessing in disguise for him, allowing him to break free from the pressures of the hype that has surrounded him in recent months, and focus on improving his all round skills. For Taurosevicius the win leaves him in a solid position in the upper reaches of the WEC’s lightweight division.