Mike Thomas Brown was in many ways seen as little more than a placeholder champion, a talented fighter that had gotten a little lucky as well, enabling him to hold the divisional strap until the real kingpin got his mojo back and resumed his reign. Urijah Faber is still a fantastically dangerous challenge to his title reign, but with his absolute shellacking of well-regarded challenger Leonard Garcia, Brown has made a strong argument that he is going nowhere without quite a fight.
Contrast this with the failure of someone who got the opposite treatment, the well-manufactured product that goes by the name of Razor Rob McCullough. Rob is a sharp fighter, no doubt, but his edge seemed more than a little rusty in a poorly-made matchup that pushed him back into his shell rather than give him a chance to showcase the skills that sell.
All in all a quality night of fights, and another successful night of betting, as I went 2 for 4 but gained .8 units.
Mike Thomas Brown defeats Leonard Garcia via submission (arm triangle choke) at 1:57 of round 1 to retain the WEC Featherweight Championship title.
I guess Mike really does hit as hard as he said after the Faber fight. Garcia has a hell of a chin to take a decapitating shot like that and not be stone dead, let alone continue to fight an overwhelming opponent like Mike Brown. Maybe now Garcia will spend some more time defending himself instead of just throwing bombs like he’s Donkey Kong. Brown’s finishing assault was very impressive as well, mixing ground and pound, positional dominance, and submissions, wrapping up with a personal favorite of mine, the arm-triangle choke, which was so tight that Garcia seemed a bit asleep after tapping.
The inevitable Brown vs. Faber rematch will be very interesting, because both fighters showed a bit of an ability to shut the other down in their brief encounter. Faber was outboxing Brown, tagging his chin regularly and otherwise flexing his newly slick standup, but whenever they clinched he had a very hard time controlling Brown and seemed more likely to be taken down than get Brown on his back. Those kinds of fights are what building a division up is all about, so the fact that we can have that kind of divisional intrigue is a wonderful, wonderful development.
This was a super fun little fight. Lamas was hanging on for dear life through most of the fight due to his skill and experience deficit, as I expected, but he managed to hold on until the very end, which came as a surprise to most people, including me. Lamas has good natural fighting instincts and solid wrestling, but he has a very long way to go to develop into a top fighter. Hopefully this win doesn’t propel him beyond his current level of development, since he’s probably going to bat .500 against bart Palaszewsi-level fighters at this point.
The most amazing thing about this fight, from my perspective, is that Lamas took the fight on five days notice but showed up with what looked like 5 or 6 rounds worth of gas. This was a rough and tough fight, and Lamas was active and aggressive until the bitter end. You have to love 155lbs for that. Lamas showed good ground and pound from standing in Bart’s guard, but was controlled very easily once he actually entered guard. He’s going to need to either improve his ground control or further develop his wrestlers posture, which is what let him break up into standing over Bart so many times, only to bring more shots down. Definitely an exciting fighter to watch in the future, but he’s nowhere near ready for the best 155lbers in the WEC, let alone the mid-rangers of the UFC.
While it’s always good to see Aldo fight, this bout was little more than an embarrassment. Mickle’s standup skills looked like they’d been honed KO’ing drunks outside of a dairy queen, whereas Aldo looked like a professional fighter. Mickle is lucky he wasn’t severely hurt. This was a good stoppage, despite Mickle not going down, because he was clearly overwhelmed and unable to defend himself.
This fight was simply a clunker. Hicks would rather lose a decision than get hit by Rob, and Rob was backed against a wall, desperately needing this win and not left a lot of exciting ways to get it. Rob showed he’s still a dangerous fighter, and although his vaunted standup skills might not be all they’re made out to be, he’s well-rounded and a solid opponent. If the WEC’s 155lb division sticks around much longer Rob might get another shot at the strap, since all you really need is two wins over legitimate opposition.
Hicks, despite his passivity and infuriating willingness to lose in order to avoid damage, showed some decent striking, holding his own with Rob and landing several hard shots. If he had more faith in his excellent chin, he could probably beat most people in the WEC’s 155lb division just by brawling, with his wrestling and submissions to back him up. Either way, these two should never fight again, and Rob should never fight a wrestler again in general. Both guys are exciting wrecking machines in other fights, but this was just a terrible style matchup for an exciting fight.
While this wasn’t a clear and borderline irresponsible mismatch like Aldo/Mickle, the outcome was much worse. Galvao suffered a very heavy KO, only recovering any semblance of his senses as he was being stretchered out of the ring. This is a dangerous sport and no degree of refereeing can remove all that danger. Page is a hard hitter but his aggression leaves him open to submissions and gassing out, so this fight doesn’t really change much in terms of his standing.