Condit, Varner Retain Titles; Cantwell Crowned

By Staff Aug 4, 2008
LAS VEGAS -- Carlos Condit (Pictures) has beaten some quality welterweights in the WEC, and none of them tested him like Hiromitsu Miura (Pictures) did Sunday in the WEC 35 main event at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Miura, a 26-year-old from Tokyo, tossed the WEC 170-pound champion to the mat with a resounding Judo throw in the first round. Condit got up quickly, only to be tripped right back down moments later.

However, Condit landed a short right hand midway through the round that clipped Miura on the chin. The Japanese fighter dropped but held on while Condit connected with forearm smashes on the ground. The finish did not come, and instead Miura landed another high-impact throw to close out the frame.

Condit, 24, fighting out of Albuquerque, N.M., also won the second and third rounds. He mounted Miura with two minutes to go in the second but missed an ambar attempt late.

In the third, Miura was mounted again, but he eventually reversed and used short punches to get through Condit’s guard. The short strikes turned into bigger ones midway through the round. Just when Condit looked hurt, he got to his feet and started swinging. At that point, Miura seemed gassed, and Condit easily mounted him, dropped some elbows and took Miura’s back to threaten with a rear naked choke.

Miura seemed rejuvenated in the fourth. He battered Condit early in the round, though the champion regrouped and finished a takedown. Both men looked exhausted after referee Josh Rosenthal stood them midway through the period. Condit moved into the mount again on the ground, but Miura reversed him and scored with another series of punches in the guard.

With 30 seconds to go, Condit stood up, slipped a right hand and kneed Miura in the face. The strike did not look especially powerful, but it sent a badly fatigued Miura to the ground. Condit kept punching, and Miura, looking spent more than anything, could not sufficiently defend himself to keep an excellent fight from being stopped at 4:43.

“He’s a very tough guy,” said Condit, who improved to 23-4. “Took a lot of good shots, and I dropped him with that [knee]. It’s fortunate that I came away with the win tonight. I think I’m going to walk away from this a lot better fighter -- mentally, physically and spiritually.”

Brian Stann (Pictures) was not as fortunate as Condit.

Steve Cantwell (Pictures) took Stann’s WEC light heavyweight title by using a more technical, varied striking attack. Although Stann had stopped the challenger in 41 seconds in March 2007, neither man landed a big shot in the opening minutes of the rematch.

Midway through the round, though, Cantwell began to open up. The 21-year-old Las Vegan mixed in a Superman punch, a knee that stood up Stann, left hooks, straight rights and kicks. Not everything found its target, but it was clear that Cantwell was capable on his feet.

Stann, 27, of Scranton, Pa., rallied late in the round after Cantwell had missed a knee and fallen to his back. The popular Marine cut loose on the ground, landing cleanly with several punches to Cantwell’s face. The attack was cut short by the bell, however, and Cantwell still won the round.

Cantwell hurt Stann in the second with a left hook to the body. Stann’s big punches just failed to hit home, and the champion could not keep up with the challenger’s diverse repertoire. As the round wore on, Cantwell landed more and more. He connected with another damaging left to the body, then followed with knees, kicks and uppercuts. An overhand right ended it, smashing into Stann’s jaw and dropping him face-first for the TKO at 4:01.

“He was more technical,” said Stann, now 4-1. “He was more accurate with his strikes. He took me on in my own game, so my hat’s off to him. I have no excuses. I had a great camp. I didn’t come out and perform like I should have.”

Despite his defeat, Stann remained hopeful of his career to come.

“I’m a baby in this sport,” he said. “I have so much to learn, and I showed that tonight. I have not fulfilled my potential yet. I’m going to make sure that tonight is the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Cantwell, now 5-1, said his nerves caused him to tire more than he should have.

“I was a little too pumped up,” he said. “I trained hard, and I knew I was going to win tonight. No doubt about it.”

The new champion plans “to continue to chew up 205-pounders.”

Said Cantwell: “I respect Stann. He’s a great man -- better than most. But anyone else who wants this belt is going to have to come and get it.”

WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner (Pictures) had a short but entertaining defense against Marcus Hicks. Fighting out of Dallas, Hicks dumped the titleholder to the mat early after catching a knee Varner had thrown. Varner got up quickly, but Hicks put him right back down with a body lock.

As Varner again returned to his feet, Hicks squeezed on his patented guillotine choke, which had finished all three of his previous WEC opponents. The submission did not put away Varner, though.

Asked how he had escaped the maneuver, Varner credited “about three months of training that damn guillotine with my training partners over at Arizona Combat Sports.”

Hicks scored another takedown after the submission failed, but he still could not keep Varner’s back on the canvas. With only a minute gone by, Varner took control. The 23-year-old from Tempe, Ariz., popped Hicks on the chin with a series of knees in the clinch. Hicks, 32, broke free but looked hurt.

Varner pursued, picking him apart with punches. A big right hand connected, then lefts. Hicks crumbled against the cage, and referee Steve Mazzagatti moved in but did not stop the fight. A gutsy Hicks climbed back to his feet, as Varner flurried on him. More and more strikes followed, and then Varner measured his opponent for a final right hand that sat down Hicks for the TKO at 2:08.

“He’s a tough dude,” Varner said. “Once Mazzagatti pulled me away, I knew it was over. But God-dang, he just did not want to go down.”

Brian Bowles (Pictures), 28, of Athens, Ga., scored his third straight impressive win in the WEC by submitting Damacio Page (Pictures).

The bantamweights came out trading. Page, 25, fighting out of Albuquerque, N.M., preferred haymakers to Bowles’ more conventional style. After missing a kick, Page fell to his back. Eventually he tried to stand, and Bowles grabbed a guillotine choke. Page slipped out of the submission, however, then reversed.

Instead of striking from the top on the ground, Page backed out of the guard for a stand-up fight. He began launching haymakers and head kicks, which left him open to a pair of right hands from Bowles. Page also connected with his hands, though, prompting Bowles to shoot for a takedown with less than two minutes to go in the round.

“I was eating a few shots,” Bowles said. “I was going to try to get the takedown at the end of the round and make sure I won the round. But he tried to take me down and gave me his neck.”

Page tried his own single-leg after stopping Bowles’ takedown. Although he had Bowles in the air momentarily for what look liked an imminent slam, Page was caught in another guillotine. Bowles wrapped his legs around his opponent while airborne, and Page fell back into the fence, as he tapped out at 3:30.
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