Published Saturday, April 24, 2010 | 4:19 p.m.
Updated Saturday, April 24, 2010 | 8:43 p.m.
SACRAMENTO — Jose Aldo defended his WEC featherweight title for the first time Saturday, dominating former champion Urijah Faber through five rounds on his way to a unanimous decision.
Aware of Faber's explosiveness, Aldo (17-1) fought arguably the most patient fight he ever has in the WEC, relying on a string of powerful leg kicks to limit his opponent's mobility.
The leg kicks were so effective that Faber (23-4) noticeably winced multiple times during the fight and could barely walk on his own afterward.
"I trained a lot of defense for those leg kicks, he's just very effective with them," Faber said. "He took away my legs. It was impossible to get something going."
The crowd became restless during the final two rounds when it became clear that it would take a miracle for Faber to pull out a win. Aldo remained largely inactive over the last 10 minutes of the fight, although he did nearly end the fight when he put Faber in the crucifix for the final two minutes of the fourth round.
In the end, he won by scores of 49-45, 49-45 and 50-45.
"The first three rounds I noticed (the leg kicks) were effective," Aldo said. "But what happened was that he kept switching his pace. I was aware of that and didn't want to go outside my limits. He has a strong right cross and I wanted to pay attention to that. I was waiting for the right time to finish. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to finish tonight — but that's always my goal."
It was the third time Aldo had fought in the ARCO Arena, where he's had good results on each trip.
He made his WEC debut in 2008 in Sacramento and delivered an eight-second knockout over Cub Swanson last year that grabbed the attention of the entire organization.
The Brazilian fighter knew he would face a hostile crowd with Faber as an opponent, but said after the fight he hoped his performances here had won them over.
"We were planning for it to be a tough fight because Urijah is a great champion," Aldo said. "I hold Sacramento close to my heart and I hope you guys can adopt me as one of the next champions from this city. It's my home away from home."
Earlier in the night, top featherweight Manny Gamburyan knocked out Mike Brown in the first round of their fight. That performance could earn him the next shot at Aldo's title.
Urijah Faber (23-4) vs. Jose Aldo (17-1)
Round One: Crowd chanting 'Faber' as fight gets underway. Aldo looks very relaxed. Faber comes forward with a series of right hands that are mostly blocked away. Faber throws a kick and gets swiped off his feet when Aldo leg kicks at the same time. Not too much harm done, Faber gets back to his feet. Aldo extremely patient in this early going. Faber shoots in on him and Aldo defends. Good combination lands for Faber as he lets two straight punches go. Right hook by Faber just misses. Aldo's inactivity very obvious still with 1:30 to go in round. Aldo looks to throw a leg kick and Faber pushes him back with a kick to the body. Two consecutive right hooks land for Faber. Aldo throws a flying knee while Faber was coming forward. It hit him in the chest and knocked him down but it didn't cause too much damage. Spinning back kick lands for Aldo to finish the round.
Round Two: Aldo throws a body kick that lands to start the second round. He follows it up with a leg kick that almost trips Faber to the ground again. Faber seems to want to close the gap but Aldo is backing up every time he comes in and Faber doesn't want to run into something here. Another leg kick lands for Aldo, that's been his primary weapon so far. Faber looks to shoot again, as Aldo backs up he throws a head kick that almost caught Aldo offguard. Aldo so conservative right now. Faber was just off balance after missing on a big left hook and Aldo didn't throw a thing. Good leg kick lands for Aldo. He must be wanting to wear Faber down in these early rounds. Again Aldo lands a leg kick and then ducks under a right hook from Faber. One minute to go. Again a leg kick nearly trips Faber. There is definitely some force behind each of those. Aldo lands another leg kick and Faber grimaces.
Round Three: Faber ducks under a punch and had his best opportunity to wrap up Aldo early in the round but Aldo scampers away. Faber throws a spinning backfist off a leg kick he sees coming but can't land it. Faber tries to catch a body kick but it lands for Aldo and Faber looks uncomfortable for the first time tonight. Another leg kick lands and sweeps Faber off his feet. He goes for Aldo's leg on the way down but can't wrap it up. Aldo lets him up. Big head kick lands for Aldo. Faber tries to answer back but Aldo sees his punches coming, backs up and avoids them easily. Aldo continues to land those leg kicks and it's definitely taking a toll on Faber's movement. Aldo lands a punch to Faber's body and then a straight right hand.
Round Four: Aldo lands a leg kick as Faber was thinking about shooting in. Faber starts to hop on what looks like his left leg. It may be hurt. Faber goes down on a busted takedown attempt and Aldo follows him to the ground. Aldo quickly moves to take Faber's back and he puts his hooks in. Faber turns into him and gets on top but Aldo shoves him off. Crowd erupts for Faber getting out of that position but he's been unable to find anything offensively. Again, Faber goes down after going for a single leg takedown. Aldo follows him and Faber wraps him up from the bottom position. Aldo works into the crucifix and stats unloading punches on Faber's exposed head. Faber is trying to throw him off in short bursts but Aldo's technique is good. Still a minute to go and Faber can not move. He's keeping his head close to Aldo's body to make it hard for him to land any significant strikes, but these have to be adding up. Crowd is going nuts as the clock winds down. Faber survives the round.
Round Five: Aldo continues to neutralize Faber's standup by backing away from him and keeping his hands up. Faber just can't match his speed. Faber shoots hard for the single leg. Aldo backs away from it and Faber hangs on for as long as he can. Aldo rips the leg free and Faber turns and lies on his back. Aldo won't follow this time and Josh Rosenthal stands up Faber with 2:30 to go. Faber's team yelling at him to push in final 90 seconds now. Aldo remains very conservative. Faber is throwing a jab here and there and Aldo is just blocking them off but throwing nothing of his own. Faber goes to his back again after an unsuccessful takedown attempt. Crowd booing as Aldo stands over him but doing nothing offensively. Only twenty seconds to go now to a relatively slow fight. Horn sounds to end the fight. Aldo gives a frustrated Faber a hug. Aldo wins by unanimous decision.
Donald Cerrone (11-3) vs. Ben Henderson (12-1)
Round One: Fighters touch gloves and the rematch begins. Henderson throws a leg kick to strike first. Cerrone goes for a leg kick and Henderson shoots for a single leg. Cerrone sprawls and they walk up into a clinch against the cage. Henderson looks to land knees as he's got his arms around Cerrone's waist. Henderson ends up taking him down and sinks in a guillotine. It's tight and Cerrone taps immediately. That's becoming Henderson's signature move. He dominates Cerrone and wins via submission at 1:57 of first round.
Manny Gamburyan (13-5) vs. Mike Brown (23-6)
Round One: Both fighters pretty conservative for first minute of this one. Gamburyan let's his hands go first, throwing a few hooks and then a hard uppercut that all miss. Gamburyan throws another big uppercut which could be his most effective punch against Brown who likes to keep his hands up so much. Brown lands a right hook but Gamburyan counters it with a right uppercut that drops Brown on the spot. Gamburyan jumps on him and pounds out the TKO win. Brown gets up and puts his hands up to say the fight was called too early but he was out. Impressive win for Gamburyan, he takes it by KO at 2:22 of first round.
Shane Roller (8-2) vs. Anthony Njokuani (13-3)
Round One: Roller goes right for the takedown and Njokuani expects it and defends it well. Roller still working for it though and after a bit of a scramble he's able to get Njokuani on his butt. Njokuani gets up quickly though. Roller not letting him go though, he keeps him wrapped up and eventually trips back down to the mat. Roller works quickly into the mount but Njokuani flips him off. Njokuani tries to get back to his feet but Roller takes his back and starts looking for the rear naked. Three minutes to go and Roller continues to move from one dominant position to the next. Roller sinks his left arm under the chin of Njokuani and he has to tap. Smart gameplan by Roller and he executes it perfectly.
Scott Jorgensen (10-3) vs. Antonio Banuelos (18-6)
Round One: Banuelos lands a nice uppercut as he slips a few punches from Jorgensen. Jorgensen lands an overhead right. Banuelos mostly looking to counter here early. Good jab lands for Jorgensen, answered with a good jab from Banuelos. Banuelos lands the first big punch of the night with a big right hook that drops Jorgensen. Jorgensen covers up and pulls Banuelos into his guard to recover. Banuelos looks to posture up and work his ground and pound. Quick armbar attempt from Jorgensen doesn't stick but he's able to work back to his feet. The two clinch and Jorgensen takes a look at the screen to see there's about 30 seconds left. His corner wants the takedown but Jorgensen can't get it and they break. Banuelos lands a good left kick and straight left hand to finish the round.
Round Two: Jorgensen sticks a couple jabs to Banuelos to start the round. Now a nice body kick lands for Jorgensen. Good standup here from Jorgensen as he dominates another exchange. He land a right uppercut and then a straight left and Banuelos is bleeding from the nose. Good head movement here from Jorgensen is frustrating Banuelos. He's moving around well and scoring points with both hands. Banuelos lands a good counter left hook. Right hook lands for Jorgensen. With one minute left Jorgensen lands a big straight right that knocks Banuelos down. Banuelos goes to his knees and covers up. Jorgensen is on his back and looking to land enough punches to finish the fight. Banuelos manages to work to his feet and he comes out of a broken clinch firing. Great round for Jorgensen ends.
Round Three: Third round begins and you'd think both fighters need this to win the decision. Good left jab lands followed by a right hook for Jorgensen. He gets aggressive there and Banuelos catches a body kick and backs him off. Jorgensen sets up a big head kick that just barely misses. Another straight right lands for Jorgensen and he really is just picking Banuelos apart on the feet right now. The jab is landing and Banuelos can't find him. Jorgensen drops him again with the straight right and Banuelos goes to his knees and covers up. Jorgensen takes his back and looks for the rear naked. It's close but Banuelos shoves Jorgensen's arm over his head to escape. Jorgensen is still on his back though and the crowd is urging him to finish the fight. Twenty seconds left and he almost gets the rear naked in again but Banuelos survives to the end of the fight. Jorgensen takes it by unanimous decision.
Chan Sung Jung (10-2) vs. Leonard Garcia (18-5-1)
Round One: Sung Jung lands first with a nice leg kick. Garcia throws a monster right hook that just misses. Sung Jung leans in looking for a right hand and Garcia counters. Sung Jung finds his rhythm though and the two completely throw caution to the wind and trade one hook after another. They both land their shots before finally tying up in a clinch with Sung Jung's back to the cage. Sung Jung lands a good knee and Garcia seems a little dazed. He was caught with his back against the cage there and he circles out of the bad position. Garcia starts to circle and Sung Jung puts his hands on his hips in a gesture that says he's not going to follow. Now Sung Jung lands a big left hook that drops Garcia. Garcia is hurt bad but he grabs Sung Jung's left arm in an arm bar attempt. He was twisting it hard there but Sung Jung pulls the arm out. Sung Jung standing over Garcia and raining down punches. Garcia kicks him away and gets to his feet and Sung Jung is just relentless. He comes forward again and both fighters are just trading shots again. It's nonstop action. Sung Jung will land a knee and Garcia will connect on a looping hook. The crowd is going nuts. They have both been wobbled multiple times. Round ends and they smile at one another.
Round Two: Wow. After watching replays in between rounds, can't believe Garcia is still standing. Sung Jung comes out for more of the same but he got too aggressive. Garcia lands a huge right hook haymaker that staggers him. Sung Jung regains composure. Garcia is throwing so hard he's nearly falling over with every punch. Spinning backfist attempt for Sung Jung misses. Garcia finally closes the distance and pins him against the fence in a clinch to slow the action. Sung Jung defends any takedown though and they break. Crowd chanting 'Garcia.' Punches have become a little more calculated here with three minutes to go. Sung Jung capitalizes on a missed punch by Garcia. He jumps on his back, rolls him over and ends up taking his back on the ground. Garcia turns into him, gets out of the position and back to his feet. Nice left hook lands for Garcia and both fighters are pretty gassed out. Sung Jung lands a few good knees from the Muay Thai clinch. It's got Garcia fazed. He eats more punches and then has to stop to put his mouthpiece back in. He comes out swingng and lands an uppercut that has Sung Jung covering up. Crowd goes crazy as Sung Jung looks to be in trouble but he recovers. They signal the last 10 seconds of the fight and Sung Jung puts his hands on his hips. This is wild.
Round Three: Sung Jung throws out a few jabs as Garcia looks to land more hooks. Garcia looking to keep his distance a little more than in the last two rounds. Throwing punches and backing off. Nice right hook lands for Sung Jung set up by his jab. Garcia answers with a head kick. Garcia is bleeding from the above the right eye and is badly swollen over the left. Sung Jung stars off an excellent combination with a spinning backfist. Landing three unanswered punches in a row. Garcia responds though, landing two of his own. Garcia fins his back to the cage again and eats a few more punches. He smiles though and signals Sung Jung to keep coming at him. One minute left. Sung Jung jabs and Garcia looks to counter the rest of the way. Somehow they both end the fight on their feet. Garcia ends up winning the fight in a pretty controversial split decision.
Anthony Pettis (9-1) vs. Alex Karalexis (10-5)
Round One: Both fighters feeling each other out here early in the fight. Pettis lands a big head kick that caught Karalexis with his hands down. It looked like a huge shot but Karalexis looks to have taken it fairly well. He's latched on to the single leg though. He looks for a takedown, can't get it and gives up the leg. Pettis throws a kick and Karalexis catches it and puts him on his back. Karalexis standing over Pettis and landing a few good shots. Pettis picks a spot, jumps back to his feet and they break cleanly. Good straight right lands for Pettis set up by his jab. Two good leg kicks land unchecked for Pettis. Another big leg kick lands for Pettis that almost swipes Karalexis off his feet. Now a body kick lands for Pettis. Karalexis showing his toughness, he took a beating in that round.
Round Two: Karalexis comes forward right from the start of the round looking for a takedown. Pettis transitions into the triangle choke though and Karalexis fell right into it. The choke is tight and that's it for Karalexis. He taps at the 1:35 mark of the second round.
Demetrius Johnson (10-1) vs. Brad Pickett (20-4)
Round One: Johnson with a lot of movement early on but it doesn't help him avoid a huge left hook from Pickett that staggers him momentarily. Johnson regains composure though and answers that shot with a head kick that lands flush and wobbles Pickett. Pickett comes forward with a hard, straight right hand that again has Johnson wobbled. Johnson tries to throw a body kick and Pickett catches it and lands two more straight punches. These guys are swinging for the fences early. Johnson comes forward with a right hook and Pickett ducks under and body slams him to the mat. Johnson defends well there and gets back to his feet but he's caught out of position again when the throws a leg kick and Pickett takes him down. Johnson doing a nice job of avoiding damage on the ground though. He ends up kicking Pickett off with about a minute to go but he's not fairing that well on his feet either. Pickett dominates the standup and body slams him to the mat again. Good finish for Johnson as he's able to get to his feet and throw a combination at the end of the round but he definitely lost that one.
Round Two: Johnson throws that leg kick again to start the round but Pickett is reacting to it well and catching most of them. Pickett tries a flying knee that Johnson backs away from. Give Johnson credit he's lost the majority of this standup but he still looks confident and aggressive. Pickett shoots and is successful on his first takedown attempt of the round. He falls into side control and throws a few knees to Johnson's midsection. Johnson again shows good defense on the ground though and works back to his feet. Pickett eats a few shots before shooting in and taking Johnson down a second time. Pickett unable to land much from top position and Johnson is able to get up with about thirty seconds to go. Round ends with Pickett in the mount after another huge body slam. He's taking Johnson down at will.
Round Three: Johnson surprises Pickett with a shot of his own right out of the gates. Pickett goes down but works back to his feet. He catches a few knees in the head though in the process. Pickett just outwrestling Johnson now, movinginto a clinch against the cage and then ducking down and lifting him up for the takedown. Johnson continues to be able to get to his feet though and he comes up swinging this time. When Pickett lifts his hands to cover up, Johnson shoots in for a successful takedown with 2:10 left to go. Neither fighter has been able to stay in top position and that trend continues as Pickett gets back to his feet. Pickett takes Johnson down again and moves into the mount. Fight ends up going the distance with Pickett winning every round on two judges scorecards. He takes home the unanimous decision.
Anthony Morrison (15-8) vs. Chad Mendes (7-0)
Round One: Mendes comes forward first with a combination and then a takedown attempt but Morrison defends both well and ends up landing a hook of his own at the end of the scramble. Good quick jab lands for Morrison. Mendes goes for the takedown again, he misses the single leg at first but stays with it and ends up getting Morrison to the ground. He transitions quickly into a guillotine. Morrison is trying to break out of it but he's forced to tap at the 2:13 mark of first round. Mendes jumps up and goes into a celebratory backflip. Nice performance by the Sacramento fighter for the home crowd.
Rani Yahya (15-6) vs. Takeya Mizugaki (13-4-2)
Round One: Mizugaki gets things going with a left hook. Yahya ducks under and looks for the single leg takedown. He sticks with it and starts pushing towards the middle of the cage but Mizugaki takes him down with a nice hip toss. Yahya gets back to his feet though and they work themselves up against the fence with Yahya hanging on to Mizugaki's back. He's able to drag him down from there and momentarily take Mizugaki's back but can't hang on and Mizugaki gets back to his feet. Mizugaki is finally able to break away from that clinch Yahya had around his waist. Mizugaki wants to throw and Yahya is willing. They each get their shots in on during an exchange. Yahya misses on a looping hook and Mizugaki crashes forward with a combination of straight punches. Blood starting to come from a cut around Yahya's left eye. Mizugaki takes him down with thirty seconds left but doesn't do much out of his guard to finish the round.
Round Two: Yahya tries to throw a leg kick to start things off and Mizugaki reads it and lands a counter left hook. Yahya ducks under a punch and lands a counter of his own, but right now he looks less comfortable on his feet than Mizugaki. Mizugaki lands a nice right hand and Yahya swings wildly before tying Mizugaki up in a clinch. Yahya shoots down for a takedown, Mizugaki defends but the fight ends up on the ground after Yahya basically pulls guard. Not a lot of action with Mizugaki in top position and Josh Rosenthal stops the action and motion both fighters back to their feet. Yahya backing up a lot now and the crowd begins to boo. Yahya throws a few desperate haymakers but Mizugaki ducks under them pretty easily and lands another flurry. Great round for Mizugaki comes to an end.
Round Three: Yahya goes for a takedown early in the round but he hasn't been able to cleanly take Mizugaki down the entire fight. He drags him to a sitting position but that's about it. He's latched on to Mizugaki's back and Mizugaki throws a few elbows to Yahya's face. Yahya stikcs with it though and ends up taking Mizugaki's back. He's looking for a choke here and he's in a good position to get it. Mizugaki ties up his wrists but he's allowed Yahya to get both his legs hooked in and there's still half the round left. He sank in his arm there for a moment but Mizugaki breaks it away, turns into him and gains top position. Fight ends in a slow finish, with Yahya mostly tying up Mizugaki's arms from the bottom position. Mizugaki ends up taking it by unanimous decision.
Tyler Toner (11-1) vs. Brandon Visher (13-1)
Round One: Toner throws a mean head kick right off the bat that Visher ducks under. Good right hand right kick combination from Visher. Another right hand lands for Visher. He throws it again but Toner slips it and counters nicely. Visher comes forward aggressively but Toner lands a straight left hand followed by a knee. Visher retreats for a moment to slow down the pace. Toner throws a head kick that Visher blocks but he follows it with a huge left hook that drops Visher immediately. Toner pounces on him and pounds out a TKO win with a series of unanswered elbows.
Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or email@example.com.