Condit, Varner Retain; Stann Falls at WEC 35


Carlos Condit. Photo property of World Extreme Cagefighting.

Carlos Condit and Jamie Varner retained their respective World Extreme Cagefighting titles Sunday night at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas while former U.S. Marine Brian Stann was defeated in a light heavyweight championship rematch against hometown favorite Steve Cantwell.

Coming into the show’s main event, Condit was expected to encounter his toughest test to date against Hiromitsu Miura, who has become known as a formidable opponent in past fights courtesy of his slick judo throws and heavy hands. Miura provided quite the test for Condit, who was put into dangerous predicaments throughout the course of the fight.

After preventing Miura’s inital judo throw attempt in the first round, Condit found himself being slammed onto the canvas just moments later, only to return the favor to Miura later on in a sign of things to come. Flurries of punches and submission exchanges between the two were prominent throughout the first fifteen minutes of the bout, which saw Condit ahead on the judge’s scorecards going into the championship rounds.

Both Condit and Miura tried to finish the other early on in the fourth round but neither were successful. Miura had Condit in serious trouble halfway through the stanza when he mounted his opponent and began to bomb away with left and rights. Condit survived the assault however, and then dropped an exhausted Miura with a left knee after standing up. Condit pinned Miura down to the mat and punched away at the side of his head until referee Josh Rosenthal decided to stop the fight.

The win was Condit’s third straight successful title defense. A rematch against Brock Larson now likely looms on the horizon for Condit after Larson quickly dispatched of fellow former WEC welterweight title challenger Carlo Prater in one of the night’s preliminary bouts.

“He was a really, really tough guy. I was fortunate to come away with the win,” Condit said after the fight. “Very, very tough fight. I think I’m going to walk away from this one a better fighter mentally, physically and spiritually.”

Undercard Action

Jamie Varner proved that his devastating title win over Rob McCullough earlier this year wasn’t a fluke by putting on another dominating display against tough submission artist Marcus Hicks, finishing him off in the first round in the event’s first of three championship bouts.

After clinching to start the fight, Hicks immediately went for his patented guillotine choke but Varner was able to fend off the hold. Hicks followed up with an impressive slam of Varner, but the Arizona native was quickly able to stand back up. Varner latched on a Muay Thai plumb and drilled Hicks with two straight knees. Visibly dazed, Hicks continued to take a massive amount of punishment from Varner, who in the form of punches, kicks, and knees, threw everything but the kitchen sink in an attempt to finish Hicks.

Despite shocking the crowd with his ability to take a punch, Hicks was finally put down for good by Varner with just over two minutes left in the round and handed his first professional loss. Varner, who stated that he will probably await the winner of Rob McCullough’s lightweight showdown against Donald Cerrone next month, was grateful towards his training camp for helping him practice defending Hicks infamous guillotine choke.

“Marcus was a very deserving challenger,” Varner said. “He’s extremely tough. He’s tough, he’s got a lot of heart and an iron chin. This guy is the real deal and I’m sure I’ll see him back here again in this cage in a couple of fights challenging me for this belt. “

Steve Cantwell promised that his rematch against Brian Stann would be the polar opposite of their first meeting in March of last year, where Stann surprised Cantwell early in the first round and forced a referee stoppage. His prediction came true as he put his kickboxing skills on display en route to a crushing win over Stann to claim the WEC light heavyweight title at just 21 years of age.

The beginning of the bout was fairly even between the two. Cantwell enjoyed a slight edge in the exchanges until he slipped late in the first round, allowing Stann to jump on top of him and unleash a flurry of punches that all landed for the most part. Cantwell survived the scare and moved onto the second round where he stunned Stann with a body shot early on. Cantwell backed Stann up with a left hand moments later and then bombed away with multiple unanswered flurries.

Stann fought with all of his might to survive until the round’s end but was eventually floored by Cantwell’s right hand. Stann fell face first to the canvas, prompting referee Herb Dean to put an end of the fight. Stann was very gracious in defeat, admitting that his overall lack of MMA experience likely contributed to his first career loss.

“You know, I’m a baby in this sport,” Stann said. “I have so much to learn. I haven’t even reached my potential yet. I’m going to make sure tonight is the best thing that ever happened to me and I’m going to come back a lot stronger and as a better fighter.”

The night’s first televised fight saw highly touted bantamweight Brian Bowles remain undefeated with a first-round submission of Damacio Page. With the win, Bowles joins fellow unbeaten prospect Manny Tapia as the top contenders for Miguel Torres’ WEC bantamweight belt.

Preliminary Bouts

Josh Grispi scored a controversial stoppape of upstart Micah Miller after knocking Miller down with an overhand right and following up with strikes on the ground. Miller immediately jumped up and questioned referee Herb Dean’s decision to stop the fight, but his calm confusion likely played into Dean’s position that Miller wasn’t aware of his surroundings.

Minnesota Martial Arts Academy product Brock Larson took a step closer to another welterweight title opportunity as he dispatched of international veteran Carlo Prater, stopping the Brazilian transplant with strikes less than a minute into their anticipated bout. Larson blasted Prater with a straight left hand and sent him stumbling to the mat. Larson followed up with a number of unanswered lefts that forced Steve Mazzagatti to save Prater, who suffered his first career knockout.

Las Vegas casino worker Blas Avena scored a quick stoppage of Dave Terrel just over a minute into their welterweight war. Also victorious on the card was former college standout wrestler Shane Roller, who survived a few tense moments in his fight against the durable Todd Moore before submitting Moore with a guillotine choke.

Former inline skater Mike Budnik picked up his seventh career win in as many fights, surviving a two-round ground-and-pound assault from Greg McIntyre before catching McIntyre with a triangle during the closing moments of a dramatic third round. The show’s opening fight saw Scott Jorgensen coast to an easy unanimous decision over Kenji Osawa.

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