Henderson Unifies WEC Title; Faber Victorious

By Jason Probst Jan 11, 2010
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Benson Henderson sits alone atop World Extreme Cagefighting’s lightweight division.

Henderson unified the 155-pound title on Sunday, as he submitted reigning champion Jamie Varner with a slam-bang guillotine choke 2:41 into the third round in the WEC 46 “Varner vs. Henderson” main event at the Arco Arena. He delivered the choke perfectly as Varner shot in for a takedown.

Jamie Varner is a tough, scary-looking dude. I was a little intimidated at first,” said Henderson, who figures to defend the title against Donald Cerrone in a rematch of their memorable five-round scrap in October. “Thankfully, I came out on top.”

Inactive for nearly a year after his controversial split decision victory over the aforementioned Cerrone, an injured Varner had been relegated to the sidelines, where he watched the division move on without him. After Henderson outpointed Cerrone for the interim belt in October, questions regarding who was the legitimate champion lingered. Henderson provided the answers.

The two landed few solid punches in the first two rounds. Varner finished a couple of takedowns but failed to score from top due to Henderson’s ability to tie him up and return to his feet. In the clinch, they seemed to neutralize one another with their wrestling, as they matched strength without either man executing much in the way of offense. Henderson centered his attack on kicks to the body.

Varner appeared to push into the lead in a bout with tepid action that had the crowd booing at times. The conclusion wiped away all the hostility, however, as Henderson delivered a finisher that came with all the finality of a slammed door.

“I came to fight,” Varner said. “Ben was the better man. He caught me in the guillotine. S--t happens. I was winning the fight. I came to fight; Ben came to grapple.

Faber Taps Assuncao, Eyes Aldo

J. Sherwood/Sherdog.com

Faber returned with a bang.
Fighting before a raucous hometown crowd, former featherweight king and WEC poster boy Urijah Faber strolled to the cage to the strains of Dr. Dre’s “California Love” and received a deafening response. Once inside, he did not disappoint.

Faber coaxed a tapout from Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Raphael Assuncao with a third-round rear-naked choke, as he locked up a shot at reigning 145-pound champion Jose Aldo. The end came 3:49 into the final period.

“It feels great. I’m ready to get that belt,” Faber said. “We’ve got a great champion right now. Jose Aldo is a phenom. He’s talented and creative, and I’d love to get that belt.”

Aldo answered the challenge.

“I have respect for Urijah,” he said, “but no one’s going to take my belt.”

Faber then fanned the flames.

“In my mind,” he said, “that’s my belt.”

Faber had his work cut out for him against the world-ranked Assuncao, whose grappling pedigree and compact frame matched his own. What transpired was every bit the test insiders suspected Faber would receive. In a tight, tactical battle, he showcased his explosive athleticism, along with the potent submission game that ultimately ended the match. He also dropped Assuncao twice with right hands.

In the third round, Faber shot for a low single-leg takedown and nailed it, only to see Assuncao spring up seconds later. After circling, Faber extended his right hand, as though to block a punch, and then quickly turned it into a snappy right-hand lead, flooring his foe for the second time.

Anchored in Assuncao’s guard, Faber exploded as the Atlanta-based Brazilian tried to stand, taking his back and sinking the rear-naked choke for the finish.

Brown Bounces Back, Submits Morrison

J. Sherwood/Sherdog.com

Brown submitted Morrison.
Former featherweight champion Mike Thomas Brown, in his first appearance since surrendering his crown to Jose Aldo, submitted WEC newcomer Anthony Morrison with a first-round rear-naked choke. The finish came at 1:54 of the first.

“I just needed a win,” Brown said. “I just wanted to win so badly. I hate to lose any fight, and it’s very important you don’t lose two in a row.”

After a 50-second feeling-out process in which Morrison landed a few solid leg kicks, Brown implemented his bread-and-butter game plan, as he scored with a takedown and landed in side control. Driving home a few hammerfists, the American Top Team ace quickly utilized his strength advantage, as he passed to mount and forced Morrison to surrender his back for the tapout.

Shalorus Stays Unbeaten

In battle of undefeated lightweights, Kamal Shalorus grinded out a unanimous decision over Dave Jansen. Scores were 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.

The Iran-born Shalorus’ penchant for committing to a stand-up bout robbed him of his best asset -- takedowns -- as he tried with mixed success to connect on the feet. However, he managed to outland Jansen during a fairly uneventful three-round affair.

J. Sherwood/Sherdog.com

Shalorus outslugged Jansen.
“I know Dave Jansen is a good wrestler, but I’m a world class wrestler,” Shalorus said. I’m a world champion. Nobody can take me down.”

Shalorus did not shoot for a committed takedown until halfway through the bout, content to work his stand-up in wild hit-or-miss exchanges. The Texas-based lightweight seemed to be aim for a crowd-pleasing fight instead of playing to his strengths as an Olympic-caliber wrestler. Jansen was live, though, occasionally landing a hard punch and working to set up power shots, but he rarely scored with anything of consequence. Jansen also failed to take down Shalorus, as he was stuffed repeatedly by the Iranian’s air-tight sprawl.

Taurosevicius Outpoints Semerzier

International Fight League veteran Deividas Taurosevicius slowed the rise of Mackens Semerzier, as he took a unanimous decision from the world-ranked and previously unbeaten featherweight. Scores were 29-28 across the board.

Taurosevicius controlled rounds one and two with superior wrestling and positional grappling, putting the leather on Semerzier when the opportunity presented itself. Semerzier threatened with occasional submission attempts from his back, but Taurosevicius, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, proved difficult to corral.

Sensing he was behind, Semerzier landed a strong body kick 45 seconds into round three and tried a flying knee moments later. However, Taurosevicius countered with a pair of takedowns. Semerzier hit a nice kimura sweep off the second, as the Lithuanian attempted to counter with a leg lock attempt. An upright Semerzier landed a couple nice body shots and a series of right hand hammerfists as his grounded foe tried to wheel around and improve position.

Semerzier then passed to side control, as Taurosevicius rolled into a choke attempt with 15 seconds left. He fought free, however, earning cheers from the crowd and the nod from the judges.

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