MMA on DVD: WEC 10: Bragging Rights

WEC 10: Bragging Rights

Lemoore, California

-This of course being the pre-Zuffa WEC, before the move to Vegas and the introduction of stars like Faber, Filho, Condit, et al. Here, as was typical with the old WEC, we had an undercard full of local fighters, with more big name fighters and solid match-ups higher on the card.

-Your hosts are Ryan Bennett (RIP), Stephen Quadros, and Jeff Blatnick. They talk the three big fights of Ryan Schultz-Gil Castillo, Olaf Alfonso-Gilbert Melendez, and Shonie Carter-Karo Parisyan, which are definitely three great fights for this level of promotion.

Heavyweight Fight: Lavar Johnson vs Levi Thornbrue

Beginning with a heavyweight fight then, two local guys, one of whom – Johnson – is a bit more hyped up as he’d looked pretty decent in his debut fight against Doug Marshall, before falling prey to a few groin strikes. Pretty big blokes here too.

Johnson opens up with some big swings before getting a takedown to half-guard. He quickly takes full mount, but doesn’t have a proper base with it, and Thornbrue flips him over to guard. Referee steps in and stands them back up before Levi can do anything with the position, and from the restart Johnson drops him with a clipping right hand. Lavar pounds away in side mount for a moment, and then stops in his tracks entirely before stepping over to full mount. Flurry of punches rains down, and the referee stops it there.

Short heavyweight squash match typical of this level of competition, nothing more to say really.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Richard Montoya vs Bill Coffman

Coffman’s got a bit of an interesting backstory, that being he was head of security at the last WEC show and was so impressed that he decided to train up a bit more and get into the cage here. Apparently he’s been training with Chuck Liddell and the SLO kickboxing academy for the fight, too. Montoya is one of the lesser-known guys out of the AKA camp.

They circle to a clinch to begin, where Montoya grabs a standing guillotine and really squeezes on it, enough that for a moment it looks like Coffman might tap. Montoya releases though, and then opens up with a flurry of punches, dropping Coffman and the referee stops the fight there.

Well, credit to Coffman for stepping in and giving it a go, but judging on that I think he’s probably better off sticking to security.

Middleweight Fight: Amir Rahnavardi vs Kengo Ura

Amir is probably best known for being the student of Bas Rutten, although he hasn’t experienced his trainer’s success in MMA, while Ura is coming out of the rAw camp and has Rico Chiaparelli in his corner, and his only career loss at this point, according to the announcers, is to “up-and-comer Mike Swick”. Wonder what happened to that guy?

They press to open the first round, and Amir fires off a low kick, but Ura clinches up and gets a takedown to guard. Amir defends well from the bottom against the attempted ground-and-pound, and both men land some short, relatively ineffective strikes inside the guard. Ura stands and Amir grabs his leg to attempt a heel hook, but Ura manages to avoid it, and they come up into the clinch. Ura lands a knee, but it hits the groin and the referee calls time. They restart, and Amir comes forward with a nice combination, landing an elbow strike to the head that opens up a nasty cut over Ura’s eye. He starts to bleed a gusher in the clinch, and Amir lands some knees to the gut as Ura starts wincing pretty bad from the blood going into his eyes. Amir tries a guillotine choke and pulls guard, but Ura works his way free and lands some punches en route to getting into half-guard. Amir works his way back to his feet, but takes a big knee, and they exchange into a clinch where Ura gets a takedown to guard, landing punches and elbows before falling back for a leglock attempt to end the round.

Fight gets stopped by the doctor between rounds due to Ura’s cut, as they just can’t get it to stop bleeding and the blood’s pouring right into the guy’s eye. Really unlucky break for him as I thought he was winning up to that point, but such is life. Replays show the elbow that opened him up was absolutely pinpoint, too. Decent enough fight I guess.

WEC North American Heavyweight Title: Doug ‘Rhino’ Marshall vs Anthony Arria

From what I can gather the WEC titles pre-Zuffa were run a little like Cage Rage’s, with the ‘World’ titles for the big-name fighters, and the ‘North American’ counterparts for the more locally-based guys. So of course, these are two local fellows, and they look practically identical; large, bald-headed brawler types with the only difference being Marshall’s large moustache and awful iron cross tattoo.

Arria wastes no time in getting underway, and as they exchange heavy swings he shoots for a takedown. Marshall sprawls somewhat, but can’t escape and Arria gets him to the ground, but right away the Rhino swings his hips over and pushes off the cage, turning into a beautiful armbar from the bottom that gets the tapout!

Whoa, did not expect that at all. Judging by the look of the guys – and the other times I’ve seen Marshall fight – I was expecting the second coming of Hess vs. Anderson or something, but Marshall just ended things quickly with an armbar that I never would’ve expected to come from a guy like him. Got to give the guy credit for showing he’s not *completely* a one-dimensional brawler. Pity he cuts such a terrible interview post-fight really. But yeah, seeing a fat 250lbs guy swinging himself into that armbar was crazy.

Middleweight Fight: Bret Bergmark vs Daisuke Ishii

Ishii is a Pancrase-based fighter and in fact this is his first foray out of that promotion according to the announcers. He’s sporting an ill haircut though, this really weird Mohawk deal. Bergmark is out of Cesar Gracie’s camp, but boy does he not fit the image of the rest of those guys at all, as instead of being a So-Cal type he’s this ginger dude with a big beard who calls himself the ‘Angry Hick’.

Ishii opens with a leg kick, and Bergmark looks right away for the takedown. He lands some knees in close, and then they break off and exchange some good punches, both landing, but Ishii getting the better of the exchange. They clinch briefly, but break off, and we get a WILD TRADE with both men ending up looking stunned! They clinch up again, but break and this time Ishii avoids a high kick and gets a takedown. Bergmark goes for a guillotine, but Ishii pops out and then falls back for a leglock attempt. Bret works his way free though, and then hops onto Ishii’s back, but can only get one hook in, and this allows Ishii to stand free. He drops for another leglock, but eats some heavy punches and then Bergmark pulls his leg free and works into full mount. Punches rain down until Ishii gives his back, but rather than go for the choke Bret KEEPS ON PUNCHING. Ishii rolls back to the mounted position, but just eats more heavy punches, and the referee steps in and calls it there.

Ha, quite the entertaining fight there. Both guys got in their fair share of shots and both took some heavy, heavy blows, but in the end it was Bergmark who got dominant position and from there it was downhill for poor Ishii. Still, a few submission attempts, some nice positional switches and a slugfest on the feet meant this was definitely one of the better undercard fights I’ve seen from WEC. Wouldn’t mind seeing either guy again really.

WEC North American Lightweight Title: Poppies Martinez vs Gabriel Cruz

Cruz is apparently a boxer, and doesn’t get much fanfare, which is quite the opposite of Martinez, who is a member of the Native American tribe that runs the Palace Casino where this event’s being held. So he gets the monster pop as well as the huge elaborate entrance with tribal dancers and music, and dedicates the fight to his grandfather, a tribal elder who recently passed away. He’s also got Chuck Liddell in his corner. All I can say is that he better win this one, or I’m thinking the place will riot.

We get underway and Martinez wastes no time in getting a takedown to side mount, and from there he pounds away with some flailing hammer fists, seemingly with no power in them whatsoever, but somehow it’s enough to make Cruz panic and tap out in under a minute.

Really there’s zero to say about this, I’m sure the fans loved it and all, but it was like a throwback to the first UFC show with the boxer getting tapped out on the ground in sheer panic.

Welterweight Fight: Ryan Schultz vs Gil Castillo

And now we get into the meat of the card, with the experienced veteran Castillo taking on Team Quest’s latest product, Ryan ‘The Lion’ Schultz, who’s one of those guys I always heard a lot about for a long time up until like early 2006. Given his background and a pretty solid record I’m surprised UFC never picked him up, actually.

Round 1, and Schultz presses forward and gets into a clinch, where they muscle for position. Ryan breaks with a short elbow, and then Castillo comes forward, but walks into a BIG RIGHT HOOK that stuns him badly. Castillo manages to survive and gets to the clinch, but nothing gets done so the ref breaks them up. Castillo continues to look for the clinch, but takes a few more punches from Schultz and then things get very tentative, with a lot of circling and little action. They clinch again, and this time Castillo works for the takedown and gets it, but Schultz sits up and holds onto a headlock to prevent any offense. He looks to stand, but Castillo stays on top in guard, until he chooses to get up himself. Schultz comes back to his feet, and lands a BIG KNEE into the clinch that hurts Castillo again. Gil blocks a takedown attempt though, landing a knee of his own to end the round.

2nd round, and they circle to begin, before Schultz lands a left-right. Castillo lands a left of his own, and then they continue to circle around for a while before Castillo catches him with a one-two. Ryan looks to close the distance, and does so, eating a combo on his way into the clinch. They break and Schultz comes forward, with both men landing punches, but it’s Schultz who makes it count, wobbling Castillo badly with a big right hand. Castillo shoots for a takedown, but Schultz works to block, only for Castillo to manage to get him down in guard. He just holds him there though, and the referee calls the inevitable stand-up. They exchange punches, and Schultz stuffs another takedown attempt to end the round.

Third and final round, and it opens with a lot of aimless circling, until Schultz clinches. They break off, and Schultz now looks tired, and we get more circling with little action that causes the crowd to boo. Schultz shoots in for a takedown, but Castillo blocks into the clinch. He gets a takedown of his own, but both men look tired and nothing happens. They come back up into the clinch and quickly get separated. Ineffective punches are exchanged off the restart, and then Castillo blocks a takedown and avoids a knee to break off to end the round.

Got to be Schultz’s decision I think, and it is, albeit a split decision, with one judge going for Castillo. Pretty dull fight outside of a couple of points, with a lot of aimless circling and clinching. Castillo didn’t really have Schultz in trouble at all, whereas Ryan did rock Gil quite badly a couple of times, so I’d say the fight was definitely his.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Alex Stiebling vs Tim McKenzie

This should be fun as Stiebling pretty much always brings an exciting fight, and his last WEC venture against Joe Riggs was a ton of fun. McKenzie is another guy from the Cesar Gracie camp; at this point he was unbeaten, and he’s one of the more colourful fighters out there, sporting a red Mohawk with patterns shaved into the sides. He’s also nicknamed ‘The Wrecking Machine’, and from this point on I’ve decided I’ll probably be a fan of his no matter what happens in this fight.

Round 1 begins, and they exchange punches openly right away, and it’s clear that McKenzie has the power advantage, as he rocks Stiebling from the get-go. Alex looks to pull guard and manages to, but McKenzie quickly moves him towards the fence, where he opens up and drops some heavy punches. Stiebling tries to kick him away, but takes some nasty shots in doing so and ends up being cut open early. Stiebling tries to stand, but McKenzie keeps him down for a while and continues to beat on him, but then Stiebling escapes to his feet and they trade again, and this time it’s McKenzie that comes off worse, eating a right hand that stuns him! Stiebling throws him down momentarily, but he gets back to his feet, and then they go back down with Stiebling on top, and he tries a weird submission which I believe is known as the ‘banana split’, basically scissoring McKenzie’s legs and pulling them apart horizontally in like a groin stretch. McKenzie resists this, so Stiebling goes for an ankle lock, only for McKenzie to escape that too. Alex ends up on top in side mount, and McKenzie tries a kimura, and then a toehold, and Stiebling counters with an attempted toehold of his own. Stiebling transitions off to a kneebar, but McKenzie pulls out and then lands some heavy elbows to end the round.

Man that was a fun opener.

2nd round, and they exchange, where McKenzie rocks him once more, and then end up on top in Stiebling’s half-guard after blocking a takedown. Stiebling works to get a full butterfly guard, so McKenzie stands and drops some punches down into the guard. He begins to work the body, but Stiebling suddenly slips a punch and locks up an arm triangle from the bottom, and surprisingly this is enough to get the tapout.

Very surprising ending there; that’s the first time I’ve seen a guy win with an arm triangle from the bottom since Jeremy Horn over Chuck Liddell back at UFC 19. That was one hell of a fight though, and even in losing the way he did, I’d love to see some more of McKenzie. I doubt he’d ever be a title contender or anything but with wins over the likes of Bill Mahood and Doug Marshall I wouldn’t mind seeing him in UFC; it’s not like he’d be the worst fighter to ever get there. At the very least they could bring him back into the WEC. Stiebling, despite a so-so record, remains one of the most entertaining fighters out there for my money. Really entertaining showing from both men.

WEC World Lightweight Title: Gilbert Melendez vs Olaf Alfonso

Two undefeated fighters at this point, and I’m immediately thinking the announcers are round the twist for giving Olaf a fair crack at actually winning this fight. Whether that’s more to do with the advantage of hindsight and how polarizing both men’s careers have been since though, I don’t know. I guess both were 3-0 here against not so great opposition, so it might be unfair to call the announcers crazy.

Round one, and they trade wild punches; the trademark opening of an Olaf fight, but then Melendez looks for the takedown. Olaf defends it well to begin, but Melendez soon overpowers him and lifts him up for a big slam to guard. He works to half-guard and avoids a couple of half-submission attempts, and lands some punches, but Olaf works his way back to guard. Melendez pins him to the fence and works some short strikes, and Olaf tries a kimura, but only takes some heavy bodyshots for his troubles. Into half-guard for Melendez, and he continues to pound the body, finally forcing Olaf to let go of the kimura, and he keeps Olaf firmly down by the fence. Melendez moves to half-guard for more ground-and-pound, until the referee brings them up, and they trade punches to end the round.

2nd begins in the same way as the first round, with wild punches, and Melendez seems to land the better shots before working for a takedown to half-guard. Ref stands them quickly for no discernable reason, and they press and exchange some punches, at a slower pace now. Melendez gets a single leg to side mount, where he knees body, until Olaf looks to turn into a triangle choke. Melendez avoids into the side mount again, and really opens up there, landing some harsh knees to the back, as well as elbows to the head. Olaf scrambles to guard, but only takes more punches, until the ref brings them up. They restart, and press forward, exchanging to end. Very lopsided for Melendez thus far.

Third and final round, and Olaf tries a flying knee out of desperation, but Melendez clinches and lifts him for a big slam to side mount. Olaf gets guard, but takes some more shots and Melendez pins him firmly into the fence and continues to pound away. He works through to side mount and continues the punishment, and then as the round ticks away, Melendez takes the full mount for the first time in the fight. With seconds remaining on the clock he uses his elbow to create some distance, and then OPENS UP with a heavy flurry, causing the ref to stop the fight right before the end of the round.

Not the most exciting fight from a usually dynamite pair of fighters, actually. Melendez controlled from start to finish and never seemed in difficulty, but Olaf was actually good enough at defending from the bottom to avoid the brunt of damage right until the last flurry that caused the stoppage. As one-sided a fight as you’d expect in terms of positional dominance and general control, but not quite as bad a beating as you might think given the state of both men today.

WEC World Welterweight Title: Karo Parisyan vs Shonie Carter

This should be tremendous fun I think. Parisyan was coming off his loss to Georges St-Pierre in the UFC going into this, while Carter was the reigning WEC champion. He comes out wearing a SWANK leopardskin coat and gold pants here. Always the style icon in MMA, Shonie.

Round 1 opens, and Karo gets a quick clinch and a takedown to half-guard. Carter works to his feet, but takes a knee from the front facelock position, and they go back into the clinch before breaking with punches. Karo misses a judo throw attempt, but gets back to the clinch, where they muscle for position before Karo narrowly misses a spinning backfist! Back to the clinch, and Karo gets a trip, but Carter pops right back up. Both men look for the big throw now, and then Karo gets a takedown and works his way into full mount. Shonie gets a backdoor escape, but Karo turns that into a triangle attempt, only for Shonie to escape out into guard. Karo comes back up and Shonie grabs a rear waistlock, so Karo looks for the Sakuraba kimura variant. He gets a beautiful trip takedown and gets the kimura, and then in a SICK transition, turns that into a straight armbar! Carter somehow wriggles free, but Karo effortlessly moves to a triangle choke, only for Shonie to escape that, up into the clinch to end. That was an INSANE ending sequence.

Into the clinch again to open the 2nd round, and they break briefly to exchange shots, before Karo clinches and gets a trip down to guard. He tries to take Carter’s back as Shonie squirms from the bottom, and sure enough the champion works to his feet and avoids the kimura again to break off. Carter lands a body kick and then avoids a takedown, kicking at the legs with Karo on his back until the ref brings the Armenian back up. Karo goes right into the clinch, and gets a nice trip to guard, where he looks to pass, but Shonie uses a swank leg capture escape to get to his feet! They clinch again and Karo tries a guillotine, but Shonie rolls his way out up into the clinch and breaks. Karo dives right back into the clinch though, and goes for the turning trip kimura once more. Shonie works free and grabs a waistlock, then stands, and the ref forces Karo to join him. They clinch back up to end the round. So far, it’s been a positional clinic from Parisyan with his trips and reversals, and Shonie’s doing well to keep up.

Third and final round, and Karo gets an early takedown to guard. He passes into half-guard, and then mounts, but again Shonie scrambles out the back door and gets up to clinch. Karo looks for the throw again, takes a couple of bodyshots, before indeed tossing Shonie down. Shonie scrambles back up though, and Karo goes for the kimura once more, tripping him down and suddenly transitioning to an armbar! Shonie blocks, so Karo goes into a shoulder lock, but Shonie again manages to wriggle free! Shonie works back up, and Karo gets stood, and then the ref calls time to remove some of Carter’s loose ankle wrap. They restart, and Karo catches a kick and clinches, getting another sick trip into half-guard. He mounts and then tries a kimura from the side, but Shonie blocks and escapes to his feet, only to eat a HUGE right hand from Karo that puts him firmly on Dream Street. Karo follows with a takedown to guard and lands a flurry, looking to mount, but Shonie escapes to his feet to end the round.

Decision’s only going one way, and sure enough Karo takes the fight and the title in one fell swoop. Despite only hurting Shonie in the third round, this was an awesome performance from Parisyan in terms of positional dominance, as he basically threw Carter around at will, and went from submission to submission effortlessly. Shonie did incredibly well to keep up and survive, showing himself to be one of the most slippery guys out there, but this was Karo’s fight from the opening bell. Still, a tremendously entertaining encounter for sure.

WEC North American Heavyweight Title: Mike Serr vs Rafael Del Real

Ah, nothing like a local heavyweight slugfest to end the show with. These two have ISSUES!~!, apparently, but I don’t know a thing about them and nor do I care, frankly. These are two BIG dudes though.

We get underway, and Del Real comes out with some HEAVY punches, rocking Serr early, and they tumble to the ground momentarily before coming back up into a clinch. They break off and Rafael lands some more big shots, before getting a slam to side mount. Back up quickly though, and they exchange, with Serr finally turning the tide with a big knee. Rafael looks stunned, and they trade once more, and this time Serr drops him with a right and pounds away, and Del Real taps out there.

God, seeing stuff like this makes you appreciate heavyweights like Sylvia, Arlovski, Gonzaga, Fedor and Couture, et al, so, so much more. Not much more to say really.

-Announcers wrap things up and the show ends there.

The Inside Pulse
: WEC 10 is actually a really solid show if I’m being honest. Sure, there’s some crap on the undercard, but then without that it just wouldn’t be old-school WEC, and nothing lasts a long time or sticks out as really boring. The meat of the show, once you get to Castillo/Schultz, is really good, and the three fights in a row following that one are a ton of fun. Melendez/Olaf isn’t as good as it would suggest on paper, but it’s still a decent enough fight, Stiebling/McKenzie is just a war, one of the more entertaining fights you’ll come across on this sort of circuit, and Parisyan/Carter is one of the most watchable showings of throws and trips in MMA that I can recall seeing. Overall the show is definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re a fan of Karo or really like your Judo in MMA. Thumbs up.

Coming Soon….

UFC: 69, 70, 71 and 72.
WEC: 11.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.
Best of Shooto 2003 vols. 1 & 2.

Until next time,

Scott Newman: