Urijah Faber Returns to Winning Ways at WEC 52

In their second to last show before being absorbed into the UFC, WEC put on another spectacular show Thursday night in Las Vegas.

The main event saw one of their biggest stars, Urijah Faber, get back on the winning track after losing three of his past five bouts as he scored a first-round submission over Takeya Mizugaki, improving his record to 24-4.

The fight was fairly evenly matched throughout the first three minutes or so, but some technical mistakes on the part of Mizugaki allowed Faber to take his back and he refused to let go until he had put Mizugaki to sleep. The end came with only 10 seconds remaining in the opening frame and was questioned by some because of the amount of time referee Josh Rosenthal allowed to elapse before he called for the bell.

That victory sets up Faber to make a run in the brand new UFC bantamweight division, and he may be first in line to challenge the winner of December’s Dominick Cruz-Scott Jorgensen fight.

The co-main event found Chad Mendes battling Javier Vazquez. Once again, Mendes utilized his advanced wrestling and grappling skills to earn a rather easy victory. The fight ended up going the distance, but Mendes pitched a perfect game as all three judges scored the fight 30-27. Mendes has now solidified himself in the featherweight division and is possibly one win away from earning a title shot.

Another strong up-and-comer in the company is Erik Koch, and he also won his match against WEC newcomer Francisco Rivera. The end came early in Round 1 as Koch connected with a vicious kick directly to the jaw and then quickly finished the fight with decisive hammerfists that forced the referee to call for a stoppage.

Koch was originally scheduled to face the highly touted Josh Grispi, but after the UFC/WEC merge was announced, Zuffa moved Grispi into a title shot against featherweight champ Jose Aldo at UFC 125. Both of those fighters are sure to be important players in the new UFC that will be born after the first of the year.

The other main-card attractions saw Demetrious Johnson beat a returning Damacio Page with a guillotine choke in the third round, and Joseph Benavidez, fresh off his loss to Dominick Cruz at the last WEC event, also using a guillotine choke to defeat Wagnney Fabiano in Round 2.

There were $10,000 in bonuses awarded to four fighters: Cub Swanson and Mackens Semerzier for Fight of the Night (Swanson won via split decision), Koch for Knockout of the Night and Faber for Submission of the Night.

The final WEC show ever will take place Dec. 16 and will have two titles on the line: Dominick Cruz will defend his bantamweight title against Scott Jorgensen and Ben Henderson will defend his lightweight title against Anthony Pettis.

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