MMA Review: #583: WEC 15: Judgment Day

-Sounds strange but I’d actually pinpoint this show as the point where I became a proper hardcore MMA fan, as I remember one of the first things I did upon returning from a trip to Spain was to check the results of this show as I was interested in the James Irvin and Joe Riggs fights! I keep mentioning this sort of thing in these old reviews but I still can’t believe how much time has passed since then – this show is twelve years old soon and the WEC’s actually been gone for seven years now. Unbelievable.

WEC 15: Judgment Day

05/19/05
Lemoore, California

-Your hosts are Ryan Bennett, Stephen Quadros and Jeff Blatnick. And for the first time off the top of my head that I remember, the sun is still out and you can actually tell the show is outdoor! I actually had NO IDEA that the old Tachi Palace WEC’s took place outdoor, seriously. It’s really odd to see.

Welterweight Fight: Jay Hieron vs Adam Lynn

Hieron at this stage had one loss on his record – the beating he suffered at the hands of a young GSP at UFC 48 – while Lynn had a record of 8-3 with a loss to a young Nick Diaz on his ledger. I was going to call this a one-sided fight on paper but that’s hindsight talking as obviously Hieron went on to decent success while Lynn didn’t; at the time they had similar records and experience levels.

Round One and Hieron lands a low kick as I’m finding the sunshine distracting. Left hand connects for Hieron and rocks Lynn, and from there he clinches and tosses him down into side mount. He tries to go for full mount, but Lynn gets to guard instead. Hieron flurries with a bunch of shots from there and he’s working super-hard from the top. You can hear Marc Laimon in Hieron’s corner screaming at him to “do the Fedor!” which I’m guessing has to mean dribbling Lynn’s head off the canvas like a basketball, surely? Lynn isn’t doing a bad job defending these punches actually. Ref Josh Rosenthal calls a stand-up and now Lynn stuns Hieron with a combination ending in an uppercut, but Hieron clinches to slow him down and pops him with a knee to the gut. Lynn fires back with one of his own and then looks for his own takedown, but Hieron blocks and then drops him with a knee and follows with more ground-and-pound. Lynn tries to reverse, but finds himself mounted for a second before he regains half-guard. Forearms land for Hieron now and Lynn is all busted open. Lynn manages to kick him away for a moment, but apparently it hit the head while Hieron was kneeling, as Josh Rosenthal calls time and warns him. They restart and exchange some strikes with Lynn landing a body kick, but Hieron gets hold of him again and muscles him into the fence. Flurry breaks for Lynn and he stuns Hieron with a knee, and suddenly we go into a WILD TRADE to end the round. Great round; 10-9 Hieron.

Round Two and Hieron shoots on a single leg early and dumps Lynn to the ground with a slam. Full guard for Lynn and the action slows down a lot as you can tell Hieron’s being a bit more conservative after getting cracked a couple of times in the first. Lynn manages to kick him away and pops up to his feet, and from there he goes back to the clinch and they exchange some knees. Right hand breaks for Hieron and he goes for the takedown, but Lynn sprawls and they wind up back in the clinch. Lynn busts out some good dirty boxing from inside, but a nice inside trip plants him on his back again. He works from the guard before Lynn kicks him away and looks to stand, but this time he gives his neck and Hieron goes for a choke. Lynn spins to avoid, but winds up on his back again. Hieron continues to work with conservative ground-and-pound from there and that’s the round. Slower round and it looks like Lynn needs a finish.

Round Three and Hieron shoots from the off and despite Lynn attempting to defend, Hieron switches the single into a slam and puts him down into guard again. This time he manages to pass into side mount where he lands some knees to the side. Both guys look a bit tired now which is probably understandable given the heat. Reminds me of how gassed the prelim guys got at UFC 112 in fact. More knees connect for Hieron but Lynn manages to spin back into full guard. This has gotten REALLY slow now with Hieron just working from the guard. He does get through with some good punches but it just looks like he’s lacking the energy to do much more. Left hand opens Lynn up with another cut and Hieron follows by moving to side mount, but one final push allows Lynn to explode to his feet. He works Hieron with some more dirty boxing, but takes some knees from Hieron before being taken down again. Fight ends there and it’s got to be Jay Hieron’s really.

Judges have it 30-26, 30-27 and 30-28 for Jay Hieron. Some funky scores there even if the winner was quite obvious. Fight started off really well but slowed down a lot as it went on, most likely from the heat due to the outdoor setting, and in the end it was Hieron’s superior wrestling that had the difference. Lynn acquitted himself well considering what Hieron went on to accomplish, but never ended up doing much of note, while obviously Hieron ended up with a couple more UFC runs as well as stints in Bellator and StrikeForce under his belt.

Welterweight Fight: Thomas Schulte vs Raven Seymon

Schulte was always one of those guys who seemed to be on the cusp of a UFC or PRIDE run but never quite got the big win to get him there – case in point he was 9-3 here and had rolled over all of his competition save for Joe Stevenson, Carlo Prater and Mike Guymon, all of whom went on to fight in the UFC some time after beating him. Never heard of Seymon but that’s probably because this was only his second fight. He does have a comical nickname, though – THE HUNGARIAN BARBARIAN!~! Frank Trigg also joins us on commentary for this one.

Round One and Seymon comes out swinging into the clinch, but Schulte trips him down into half-guard. Punches to the body land for Schulte but Seymon looks for a leglock. Schulte avoids that and then drops to his back for a triangle attempt, but Seymon avoids it. Another attempt is more successful though and he locks it fully down to force Seymon to submit.

Slick work from Thomas Schulte who wasted no time in putting away an overmatched opponent. Transition from defending the leglock to attacking with the triangle was especially fantastic.

Welterweight Fight: Cassio Werneck vs Toby Imada

Werneck was a guy who, if I recall correctly, had a bit of hype around him at this stage as a grappling phenom coming into MMA. A look at his Wikipedia page indeed shows a ton of credentials. Imada meanwhile had put together a lot of experience – a 10-8 record – even at this stage, although he’d lost his last four fights and hadn’t fought since 2002. His big claim to fame was of course yet to come.

Fight begins and they circle with Imada firing off a couple of jabs into a straight right hand. He clinches to follow and they muscle along the fence, and from there Werneck manages to take the back standing. Imada manages to spin back into him and they continue to jockey for position along the fence while Bennett shills XYIENCE on commentary. 2005, people! They break for a second before going back into the clinch, and we’ve got very little happening here outside of the odd knee being thrown in there. Left hand breaks for Werneck and he follows with a body kick that glances and causes him to slip to the ground. He pops back up though and we’re back to the clinch. Guillotine attempt from Werneck doesn’t work and the round ends in the clinch. Urgh.

Into the 2nd and Imada swings a REALLY big right hand into the clinch. Werneck goes for a knee but Imada breaks off. Left hand from Werneck and Imada clinches again, and they jockey for position some more and the crowd now sound restless. A brief exchange in the clinch wakes them up again and they separate, but it’s only momentary as Imada clinches up again. This is such a dull fight. Finally they suddenly start to exchange, and Werneck lands a left hook that has Imada wobbled badly! He closes in swinging for the finish, and Imada desperately takes him down, but lands right into a triangle choke and Werneck locks it up and flips it into a mounted triangle for the tapout.

Fight was absolutely horrible until like the last twenty seconds which were fantastic from Werneck as he hurt Imada standing and then finished him on the ground. He only ended up doing one more MMA fight though so I guess BJJ just suited him better. As for Imada, about four years after this he somehow hit a HANGING INVERTED TRIANGLE on Jorge Masvidal in Bellator, which was the general consensus submission of the year for 2009.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Justin Levens vs Tony Lopez

This was my old favourite Levens’s WEC debut and the first time I can really recall hearing some hype around him, as he’d beaten his previous five opponents in devastating fashion. Lopez was just 1-0 at this point and had far less experience than Justin. He’s also got one of the most ludicrous haircuts I’ve ever seen in my life, let alone MMA – these ridiculous green pigtails.

First round begins and Levens tags Lopez with a big right hand early, and then he follows with a slam into side mount. Lopez grabs onto a guillotine, but with Levens in side mount he doesn’t appear to be in trouble at all. Reversal from Lopez puts him back up, but he takes a knee as he stands and Levens holds onto him with a rear waistlock. Lopez manages to turn into him, but Levens breaks off with a knee and then he tags Lopez with a combo before decking him with a HUGE HAYMAKER RIGHT! Levens pounces into the guard but Lopez ties him up to prevent a finish. Levens can’t do much from the top, so instead he lifts Lopez up for a mini-slam before moving to half-guard. Nice pass follows and Lopez almost gives his back, but manages to stand and then finds himself on top in half-guard after a brief scramble. Forearms get through for Lopez but Levens ties up his left arm in a kimura and uses it to hit a NICE sweep over into side mount! He tries to finish the kimura, but Lopez spins out only to give his back in the process, and within seconds Levens locks up a rear naked choke to finally put Lopez away.

Really fun fight and Levens looked every bit the hot prospect as he outstruck and outgrappled Lopez and put him away in quick fashion. Dude was so awesome to watch back then and you can see why the UFC had their eyes on him at that stage. As for Lopez, he ended up going on a wild sixteen-fight win streak from 2007 through to 2010, but never got picked up by one of the bigger shows and he’s still fighting as a journeyman today.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Josh Green vs Miguel Cosio

Never heard of either of these guys but a check of the records tells me I’ve actually seen a couple of Green’s fights, on WEC 11 and 14 to be exact. Cosio was making his MMA debut which explains my lack of knowledge on him. Interestingly enough he ended up being Brian Stann’s opponent in both men’s second professional fight. Green is way over with the crowd as he’s a local guy I guess.

Round One begins and Cosio comes running out swinging, but Green hits an easy takedown from the clinch and immediately moves into mount. Cosio turns his back in an attempt to escape but Green slaps on both hooks and then goes back to mount. Cosio gives his back again and this time Green sinks the choke and finishes him off.

Nothing to see here, just a total squash match evidently booked to get the crowd going wild for a local favourite. Poor Cosio ended up going 1-13 in his MMA career overall.

Middleweight Fight: Steve Ramirez vs Anthony Gonzalez

Like with the previous fight, I can’t recall anything about these guys even though I’ve seen both of them fight on older WEC shows. Hey, it’s been years since I watched some of those WEC’s so I can’t help it! A check tells me that Ramirez lost to the legend that is GABE RUEDIGER though.

Fight begins and Ramirez comes out in an odd karate stance before they EXCHANGE WILDLY until Gonzalez shoots in for a single leg. Clearly illegal elbow lands for Ramirez as he defends, and then they come back to their feet and Ramirez keeps on swinging. This is just a FILTHY BRAWL as both guys exchange sloppy strikes before Gonzalez manages to get the takedown. That was literally like a fight outside a sleazy bar. Mount for Gonzalez and Ramirez is in trouble, but he escapes through the back door and they come back to their feet. Gonzalez is badly cut. Big left hand from Gonzalez and they exchange wildly again with both men landing, and Ramirez is taking some huge shots here. This is SO FUCKING AWESOME. Big uppercut lands for Ramirez from the clinch. Takedown from Gonzalez from the rear waistlock and he lands some punches from there, but boy are they sloppy. Ramirez spins around and so Gonzalez grabs a guillotine before spinning again, and now he’s got back mount. Ramirez turns into full mount and takes some more shots, and it looks like he’s close to being out here. Full mount for Gonzalez and he’s raining down punches and both guys are cut open. Ramirez gives his back again, but Gonzalez can’t put the hooks in and he slips off and winds up on the bottom. Now Ramirez takes full mount and begins to drop bombs, and Gonzalez has to give his back! Rear naked choke of sorts is locked up by Ramirez and Gonzalez taps out there.

Criminally sloppy fight as both guys gassed early and didn’t really show much skill, but man was it fun to watch and I’m not knocking anyone who gets in the cage and looks for the fight like that. It’s partly what regional MMA is all about at the end of the day. Hilariously awesome.

Middleweight Fight: Tony Alanis vs Johnny Fadella

Another two guys I’ve never heard of but it looks like they’re another pair of locals. Crowd absolutely HATE poor Fadella though, booing him out of the, erm, parking lot? Alanis I’m guessing is a Tachi Palace original as the crowd love him. He’s got Poppies Martinez in his corner which explains his popularity.

First round begins and Fadella tries a jab, but Alanis catches him with a BRUTAL right hand and he’s in big trouble already. Fadella manages to grab a clinch to slow Alanis down, but he gets dumped to the ground in half-guard. Alanis tries to drop a big right over the top, but it misses and allows Fadella back to his feet. Left hand lands for Fadella and he clinches to land an uppercut, and now both guys are exchanging wildly with Fadella opening up with some sloppy punches. Solid leg kick from Alanis and then Fadella swings wildly again, but he gets hit with a nasty right-left counter combo. That leads into a brawl with both men exchanging into the clinch, and the action slows down a little before they break and Alanis WAYLAYS Fadella with a right hand for the stoppage.

Good shot for the finish but it was a sloppy brawl that wasn’t anywhere near as good as the previous sloppy brawl, if that makes sense. Crowd loved it though so who am I to knock it?

Lightweight Fight: Richard Crunkilton vs Paul Jenkins

Two fighters I’ve heard of at last! Crunkilton – from the AKA team – stuck around in the WEC to become a mainstay there under the Zuffa regime, while Welshman Jenkins was a mainstay in Cage Rage at this point alongside his excursions over to the US. Pretty cool-sounding fight to be fair given both men’s styles.

Round One begins and both men throw out some feeler kicks before Jenkins connects on a left hook. Takedown attempt from Crunkilton and he slams Jenkins down into half-guard. Kimura attempt from Jenkins though and he flips Crunkilton over and almost gets an armbar, but Crunkilton avoids and goes for an armbar of his own. Jenkins stacks him up to defend and then frees the arm, and he manages to get on top in guard. Another armbar attempt is switched to an oma plata from Crunkilton, but Jenkins avoids that and stands over him. He somehow drops down into full mount and Crunkilton is in trouble, but he escapes through the back door and manages to get Jenkins on his back again. This is a fun fight. Side mount for Crunkilton and then he steps over to full mount, and Jenkins gives his back. Both hooks in for Crunkilton and he lands a nice back elbow to the side of the head. Choke attempt is defended by Jenkins and Crunkilton loses one of the hooks, but manages to get it back in quickly. Jenkins spins over into guard and so Crunkilton drops for a kneebar, but Jenkins defends and we go into the duelling leglock position before Crunkilton decides to try to roll free. Round ends just after that. Great round for sure.

Round Two and Jenkins comes out swinging and tags Crunkilton with a right hand, but as he tries to follow it up Crunkilton tackles him to the ground. Full mount follows and then Jenkins gives the back again. Both hooks are in this time and Jenkins might be in trouble. Body triangle for Crunkilton now but he slips off and Jenkins looks for a takedown of his own. Crunkilton defends it with a front headlock and looks to switch to a guillotine, but then he changes it up and hits another takedown into half-guard. Couple of big right hands get through and then he mounts again, and from there he begins to drop some HUGE FOREARMS until somehow Jenkins escapes and gets back to his feet. He’s still rocked though and Crunkilton hits a low single and then drops a CRUSHING RIGHT HAND onto him that knocks the Welshman stiff. Couple more punches are academic.

Brutal knockout for Richard Crunkilton to top off a really fun, back-and-forth fight filled with action. This was a great fight that realistically probably felt even better because these guys were genuinely skilled as opposed to being wild brawlers like the previous two fights.

Heavyweight Fight: Lavar Johnson vs Carlos Garcia

Aw man, you can see this is a mismatch literally by looking at the guys as well, there’s a reason Johnson was nicknamed ‘Big’ and it’s not just a dick joke, while Garcia is a short, fat dude. Johnson already had a bunch of nasty finishes on his record at this stage, too, while Garcia had been KO’d by Doug Marshall in his previous outing.

Fight begins and right away Johnson has Garcia hurt with punches. He grabs the plum to land a couple of knees and then hurts him with a big right hand, and Garcia tries to clinch but gets shrugged off. More brutal shots get through for Johnson and Garcia’s in trouble. Big head kick lands for Johnson and he throws Garcia around in the plum and then just DESTROYS HIM WITH PUNCHES against the fence. Holy shit that was violent.

Post-fight poor Garcia is a mess, leaking blood from all over his face. Total squash for Lavar Johnson and he decides to DRINK A BEER post-fight. Not sure if that was a tribute to Stone Cold Steve Austin, ha. Johnson of course went on to a brief UFC run in 2012 before being released and he’s now in jail for domestic abuse. Knockout was fun but it was a mismatch and really, fuck Lavar at this point anyway.

Welterweight Fight: Chris Lytle vs Pat Healy

Healy didn’t quite have the notoriety that he’d go onto at this stage, as he was 7-7 in MMA overall although he’d fought a bunch of tough opponents like Denis Kang, Dan Hardy and Brad Blackburn. For Lytle, this was during a short foray outside the UFC for him, as I guess his contract ended after his loss to Karo Parisyan and he was just picking up some fights outside before getting back in. Mad how often that’d happen during the pre/early-TUF boom before everyone had to be locked down in exclusive, longer deals.

Round One and the sun is FINALLY going down now. Healy rushes in for a takedown attempt, but Lytle defends it well and they end up pressed into the fence. Lytle works some punches inside and also adds in some knees, and he uses a standing guillotine for some control as well. Healy keeps trying for a takedown but somehow Lytle remains on his feet, and he continues to work Healy over from the clinch. Exchange inside the clinch continues with Lytle doing far more work, and he seems to hurt Healy at one point with a hard knee. Finally Healy manages to complete a takedown, and he drops a flurry down before Lytle slaps on a triangle choke. Healy is in trouble. Lytle switches to a triangle/armbar combo ala Nogueira, but Healy manages to defend it and spins free. Lytle manages to take the back off a scramble and he’s got both hooks in. He works for the choke, but Healy somehow manages to survive the round. Clear round for Lytle.

Round Two and both men come out swinging with Lytle landing a hard right hand. Big takedown from Healy though and he dumps Lytle right on his head. Lytle spins around from north/south into guard and from there he uses a heel hook attempt to reverse his way up to his feet. He forces Healy into the fence and manages to take the back standing, and from there he pulls Healy down and slaps both hooks in. Rear naked choke is avoided by Healy but Lytle turns into top position in side mount. Healy is being outclassed thus far. Lytle looks for a topside triangle, and then looks to lock the right arm up in a straight armbar too – a Lytle favourite – but Healy somehow guts it out despite clearly wincing. Lytle lets him free and then goes for a front choke, but Healy works to his feet and hits a takedown of his own into butterfly guard. Healy can’t seem to do much from the top inside Lytle’s guard, but he does stand to deliver a really hard right hand. Lytle responds with an upkick and Healy decides to drop right down into the guard. Armbar attempt from Lytle is met with a stiff elbow from Healy. Good ground-and-pound gets through for Healy and the round ends there. Closer round but I’d still score it for Lytle.

Round Three and both men come out swinging before Healy lands a really crushing leg kick. Clinch from Healy as Lytle tries to flurry on him, and from there he throws Lytle down and drops a right hand over the top. Couple of upkicks land for Lytle but Healy stands over him and drops another big right into the guard. Healy works to pass and almost gets side mount before working a headlock to control the UFC veteran. Lytle suddenly goes for a heel hook, but he can’t get it and it allows Healy to take his back for a second before he spins over into Healy’s half-guard. Bit of an error for Healy there. Lytle works to pass and manages to take the back again, but he slips and Healy ends up getting on top in Lytle’s guard. Short forearms and punches get through for Healy and then he stands free and calls Lytle up to join him. Big right misses for Lytle and they clinch up again, and from there Healy hits another takedown to guard. Healy keeps on working from the top and it looks like he’s got Lytle busted WIDE OPEN with his elbows. More shots get through for Healy and he really flurries in the ending seconds to look for the finish. Healy’s round and using PRIDE rules you might go for him, but I’d call it 29-28 Lytle. Post-fight it’s revealed that HEALY is the one bleeding and the blood got all over Lytle.

Judges have it 29-28 Healy, 29-28 Lytle and 29-28 Lytle for the split decision win. Crowd boo the decision WILDLY but I’d say it was the right call personally as Lytle clearly won the first two rounds despite Healy really rallying late on. At any rate this was a great, UFC-level fight and it’s easy to see why Healy ended up having arguably as much success as Lytle in his career eventually. Nice to see Lytle bring a really exciting fight prior to the TUF run that largely changed his whole style, too.

WEC Middleweight Title: Joe Riggs vs Rob Kimmons

Riggs was making his return to the WEC here following his first UFC loss – that triangle choke at the hands of Ivan Salaverry – and this was for the Middleweight Title vacated by Chris Leben when he moved to the UFC following the original TUF series. Kimmons at this stage was 3-0 – miles away from his own UFC run – and Riggs winning the title seemed like a formality basically from what I remember.

First round begins and they circle around before Riggs lands a body kick. Wild right hand misses for Kimmons and Riggs shoots under and gets a takedown to guard. Kimmons tries to scramble but Riggs settles on top in the guard and he begins to drop some DEVASTATING ELBOWS AND PUNCHES and Kimmons is in trouble instantly. Riggs passes into half-guard and then cracks him with some more huge shots, and Kimmons decides to verbally tap out.

Absolute squash for Joe Riggs and I’d honestly forgotten how brutal his ground-and-pound could be. Still one of the most dangerous guys in MMA history from that position I think, up there with the likes of Hughes, Ortiz and Fedor even if he never got near the level of success that those guys had. This was also his last ever WEC fight, as he went back to the UFC and stayed there for an extended run before really falling off for a while.

WEC Native American Lightweight Title: Cole Escovedo vs Poppies Martinez

This was of course set up by the wild confrontation on the previous WEC show that saw a total pull-apart brawl between supporters of the two, still one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen in MMA basically. Story was essentially that Escovedo felt like Martinez had been protected by the WEC due to being a local Tachi Palace guy and felt like he was an easy match. Fight is for the WEC Native American Lightweight Title, despite Escovedo holding the FW title.

Round One and they exchange some punches and Martinez tells Cole to bring it, so he fires a head kick that misses. Martinez is in really bad shape for this. He keeps telling Escovedo to bring it, but he eats a leg kick and he’s not throwing that much himself to be fair. Crowd are naturally behind Poppies. Good combination gets through for Martinez and he shrugs off a clinch before working Escovedo with some dirty boxing. Takedown from Escovedo slows him down though. Cole moves into half-guard, but Poppies gets into full guard and manages to kick him off and stand. Clean left hand connects for Escovedo and he beats Martinez to the punch as Poppies has his chin high. Head kick lands for Cole but he has to block a head kick in return. Right hand lands hard for Martinez. Left replies for Cole and they’re trading off now. Big combination lands for Poppies and he shrugs off a clinch attempt. Big flurry follows and Escovedo is in a bit of trouble. A few more punches land and Escovedo goes down, but it looks like he’s dropped to his back to try to entice Poppies into the guard. The local favourite won’t do that and he stands over him to kick the legs a bit. Cole gets back on his feet and takes another big flurry from Martinez, but he fires back with a straight left and now they TRADE OFF with both guys landing. This is a hell of a round. Chopping leg kick lands for Escovedo but Poppies shrugs it off. Another crazy trade sees both men land but Cole gets stunned badly, only to get a double leg and put Poppies on his back in half-guard. Round ends there. That was tremendous.

Round Two and it looks like Martinez has a horrible cut around his left eye. He comes out swinging though but seems to be more patient than he was in the opening round. Hard leg kick from Escovedo hurts his leg though and he’s limping now. Another leg kick wobbles him and he swings his way into the clinch, but he’s clearly in a TON OF PAIN and after a moment he collapses. He manages to get up but surely he can’t call a time out like that? Escovedo even comes over to yell at him to continue but there’s no way. Doctor comes in to check him and I don’t get this, it was caused by the leg kicks which are fully legal so surely it’s a TKO? Dude can’t even get up and he’s in fucking AGONY, seriously. Like Anderson Silva post-Weidman in the second fight without the sick break. This goes on FOREVER until they finally announce that Martinez likely has a torn ACL from the leg kick and so the fight’s over.

This was a super-exciting fight until the weird ending; don’t want to call it anticlimactic because obviously the injury was at least caused by Escovedo’s kick, but I’m not sure what the hell was going on with the stuff after the knee injury as referee Josh Rosenthal should surely have called the fight the moment Martinez went down, rather than having the doctors check him over and stuff. Post-fight Martinez calls Escovedo the better fighter and so that rivalry’s squashed at least. I’m surprised the WEC never tried to do a rematch though given the semi-controversial ending and the fact that it was a great fight, though!

WEC Heavyweight Title: James Irvin vs Doug Marshall

Rhino was the WEC North American champ here which basically made him #1 contender as far as I can gather, while Irvin had won the full title at WEC 12 with a knockout over Hossein Oushani in a really one-sided fight. Since then he’d moved to the UFC, but had been knocked out by Mike Kyle in his debut and so this was his first fight following that one. Despite the talk of Irvin moving to 205lbs – he’d do that in his next UFC fight – he stayed at HW to defend the WEC title one more time in this fight. From what I remember Irvin was the big favourite going in but after seeing him knocked out by Kyle there were worries over his chin holding up against the power of Rhino.

Round One begins and Irvin shows a lot of movement before Marshall gets a clinch and clubs him with a right hand. Irvin breaks with a right of his own that wobbles the Rhino, and then follows with a big combination. Leg kick takes Marshall off his feet but he pops back up. Irvin looks miles quicker. Big combination again from Irvin and he dodges a flurry from Rhino. Another combo from Irvin leads to a plum clinch, and they exchange knees but it’s advantage Irvin again. Marshall manages to force him into the fence, and they trade off from the clinch with Irvin ABUSING RHINO WITH KNEES. They break off and a right hand and a low kick land for Irvin, and Rhino looks exhausted and hurt. He takes some more shots and holy shit he has a chin, as he fires right back and this is a BRAWL. Plum clinch again from Irvin and he lands more knees, with Marshall answering with uppercuts to the body. They break off and Rhino wings a big right hand and then a combo, but Irvin hits a BIG SLAM and dumps him onto the ground in side mount. Armbar attempt from Irvin but Rhino spins free, to be fair it was sloppy anyway. Both men are cut now. Rhino winds up on top in the guard and he drops some elbows, and the action finally slows down slightly from there with Rhino continuing to grind away. Kimura attempt from Irvin but Marshall pulls the arm free to drop a body shot. Irvin is bleeding like crazy as is Marshall – from his ear in fact. Referee Josh Rosenthal calls a restart, and Irvin comes wading in with HAYMAKERS and Rhino is in trouble! Big knee from Irvin and they trade off before Irvin stuns him with some HUGE KNEES! Rhino stumbles backwards….and that’s the round. That was tremendous, maybe the craziest round of the night.

Round Two and Rhino comes out with a takedown attempt and just about avoids a flying knee. Almost the same finish as Irvin vs. Terry Martin there! Combination lands for Irvin and he follos with a leg kick. Big right hand lands flush for Irvin and Rhino somehow takes it and gets to the clinch. Plum from Irvin and this time he lands a BRUTAL KNEE that FINALLY drops Rhino and he’s OUT. Amazing stuff.

Post-fight the doctors have to work on Marshall for quite a bit as he looks pretty rough. This was an awesome fight – best one of the night and dare I say it a very low-end contender for Fight of the Year in 2005 as both guys absolutely went to WAR, with Rhino wading through some pretty insane offense from Irvin until he finally gave up the ghost. If Irvin’s defense was as good as his offense he probably would’ve gone down as a proper great in the UFC, but well, you know. Sure the fight was sloppy, but then so was Griffin/Bonnar for the most part and that was general consensus FOTY for 2005 (my pick was Diaz/Sanchez, but that’s just me!). Post-fight Irvin says he’s going down to 205lbs for his next fight and of course that’d be in the UFC. Hell of a way to end a pretty wild show really.

-And from there we roll the credits. Whew. Hell of a show.

Final Thoughts….

Another great regional level show from the pre-Zuffa WEC; this one admittedly hasn’t got as many UFC-level fights as a couple of the other older WEC shows (say, WEC 17 or WEC 18 for instance) but everything’s exciting outside of the final bit of Lynn/Hieron (and even those guys had the excuse of the heat), there’s some hilariously good sloppy brawls, Healy/Lytle is *really* good and Irvin/Marshall is one of those forgotten classic fights that deserves much more praise than it gets. Check this one out on Fight Pass ASAP.

Best Fight: Irvin vs. Marshall
Worst Fight: Hieron vs. Lynn

Overall Rating: ****1/4

Until next time,

Scott Newman:
NewmanMMA@gmail.com