Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010 | 3:07 p.m.
Updated Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010 | 8:32 p.m.
Urijah Faber always believed his most comfortable fighting weight would be at 135 pounds.
After just one fight in the bantamweight division, it certainly seems he may have been right.
Faber (24-4) made his bantamweight debut a successful one Thursday, submitting Takeya Mizugaki (13-5-2) in the first round of the WEC 52 main event at The Pearl at The Palms.
After dominating Mizugaki on the feet early on, Faber took his back in the final minute of the first round and locked in a rear-naked choke.
Hoping to make it to the end of the round, Mizugaki refused to tap even though the choke was visibly tight. With just 10 seconds remaining in the round, referee Josh Rosenthal checked on Mizugaki by pulling on his arm.
The Japanese fighter didn’t respond.
“He has the reputation of being a guy who goes to the very end,” said Faber on the finish. “I knew I had to do something drastic.”
For Faber, Thursday marks the end of an amazing run he’s had under the WEC umbrella, where he was universally considered the face of the organization.
The WEC is set to merge into the UFC in early 2011.
Instead of nostalgia, Faber says he’s only looking forward to moving into the bigger spotlight of the UFC and the chance to hold its 135-pound belt.
“I’m going to the UFC after this and it’s going to be awesome,” Faber said. “It’s time to step it up and get my belt in the UFC. Live the dream.”
In the co-main event, Chad Mendes (8-0) kept his perfect streak alive with a unanimous decision victory over Javier Vazquez (15-4).
Urijah Faber (24-4) vs. Takeya Mizugaki (13-5-2)
Round One: Faber feints a straight right and looks to land a left hook. Faber slips a left hand and counters with a straight right. Mizugaki lands his first shot of the night with a left hook. They clinch with Faber’s back to the fence. Faber circles around to put Mizugaki against the fence and now throws a hard left hook as they break momentarily. Mizugaki clinches right back up. Faber throws a right hook on a break again, just misses landing it clean. They both let their hands go on another break and this time they keep some space between them. Faber slips another punch and lands a nice counter right. Faber shoots hard for the first time tonight, Mizugaki backs up to the fence and stays on his feet. One minute to go and Faber lands a hard elbow and jumps onto Mizugaki’s back as he goes down. Mizugaki back to his feet with Faber on his back. They fall down to the mat and Faber looking to lock in the rear naked. It’s very close. Don’t know how Mizugaki hasn’t tapped yet. It’s because he’s asleep. Referee Josh Rosenthal pulls Faber off and Mizugaki is completely out. Faber wins via submission.
Chad Mendes (9-0) vs. Javier Vazquez (15-5)
Round One: Mendes opens up with a vicious head kick that Vazquez blocks way. Mendes comes forward aggressively and lets his hands go, Vazquez backs up to the fence and then falls to his back. Mendes standing over him, hesitant to jump down into his guard and Vazquez pops up. Leg kick lands for Vazquez. Vazquez throws a body kick and Mendes takes it as a chance to take him down. He shoots in and puts Vazquez on his back. Vazquez trying to work into rubber guard and he drops a few hard elbows down on the top of Mendes’s head. Mendes now lifts him off the ground and slams him to break the rubber guard. Vazquez tries to work his legs onto Mendes’s shoulder but Mendes shrugs them off and comes down with a hard right hand. Vazquez into rubber guard again and starts throwing those elbows. Now Vazquez traps Mende’s right arm and looks to armbar but Mendes breaks free. Mendes lands a few punches from top position to finish the round.
Round Two: Mendes comes out of nowhere with a flying knee attempt and Vazquez goes on the retreat and falls to his back. Mendes follows him and gets back into his guard. Vazquez working that rubber guard again but Mendes breaks it and lands two hard elbows to Vazquez’s head. Vazquez pulls his left leg up and he’s back in rubber guard again but Mendes breaks it and lands two more elbows. Vazquez resorting to hitting Mendes on the side of the head with open palms, doesn’t seem to have an effect. Now he creates some space and Mendes gets up and stands over him. Mendes throws a few kicks to Vazquez’s butt and then does a front flip into him. Vazquez gets to his feet and tries to latch onto Mendes’s back and Mendes does a front flip again, pinning Vazquez underneath him. He turns to the inside and ends up back in Vazquez’s guard. Mendes shoves Vazquez up against the fence for awhile until referee Herb Dean stands them up with 20 seconds left.
Round Three: Mendes comes out aggressive with his hands again, that’s been a theme early in the rounds. Think he’s surprising Vazquez with the speed he’s doing it with. Vazquez just misses catching him with a big left hook. Vazquez throws the hook again and Mendes takes him down easily. Again Mendes stands over the downed Vazquez and instead of doing a backflip into him, lets him stand up this time. Now Mendes throws a high right kick that stuns Vazquez and he parlays it into a takedown. Half the round down and Mendes is dominating. He lands a series of good elbows out of Vazquez’s guard but the action slows and Dean makes them stand up again. Straight right lands for Mendes as he keeps going at a high pace. Vazquez falls to his back again wanting Mendes to follow and he does. Only 90 seconds left and Vazquez needs a miracle submission. He looks for rubber guard again but Mendes is too strong and continues battering him from the top. Horn sounds and Mendes helps Vazquez to his feet. Vazquez congratulates him. Mendes wins via unanimous decision.
Erik Koch (11-1) vs. Francisco Rivera (5-1)
Round One: Head kick from Koch to start off, blocked by Rivera. Body kick lands for Koch. Rivera very conservative here to start. Koch throwing a lot of kicks here early, attacking every level of Rivera. It’s a head kick here that puts Rivera down. Rivera on the ground, he tries to cover up but Koch pouring on the pressure and referee Steve Mazzagatti has to step in. Koch wins via TKO.
Joseph Benavidez (13-2) vs. Wagnney Fabiano (14-3)
Round One: Benavidez turns down an offer from Fabiano to touch gloves at the start of the fight. Nice left hook lands for Benavidez. Fabiano responds with a hard right that staggers Benavidez. Inside leg kick ands for Fabiano. Resounding body shot lands for Fabiano. Benavidez fires off a flurry with a body kick at the end but Fabiano does a nice job of covering up and defending himself. This time a body kick lands for Benavidez. Another body kick for Fabiano, but Benavidez comes back aggressively and fits in a right hook. Neither fighter interested in taking it to the ground so far. Now finally, a takedown attempt from Benavidez but Fabiano sprawls and Benavidez abandons it quickly. A flying knee attempt from Fabiano ends the round.
Round Two: Body kick from Benavidez opens up the round and now he sweeps Fabiano off his feet with a hard leg kick. Fabiano on his back and Benavidez stands over him. He looks to come down with a right hand. Fabiano rolls away and Benavidez locks in a guillotine. It’s tight and it almost looked like Fabiano tapped there but referee Kim Winslow makes no signal and Fabiano rolls out of the hold. Benavidez puts him right back in it though and Fabiano is in trouble. Benavidez couldn’t get his legs up around Fabiano’s waist though and the leverage isn’t there. Fabiano out of the hold and now he’s in side control. Benavidez rolls him over his back and for the third time this round throws in a guillotine. This time it’s too tight and Fabiano taps. Benavidez wins via submission.
Damacio Page (12-5) vs. Demetrious Johnson (12-1)
Round One: Johnson comes out circling to his right and catches Page with a nice straight left. They get into a clinch and Page tries to hip toss him to the ground but Johnson shows great balance and stays on his feet. Inside leg kick lands for Johnson and then he touches Page’s chin with a straight right. Page clinches him up and now he gets the takedown on a trip. Johnson wiggles to the cage and tries to get to his feet but Page smothering him and now works into full mount with half the round still to go. Johnson gets free and gets back to his feet taking no damage but Page body slams him back to the mat. Page works back to his feet but Page gets him down again with a minute to go with a slam. Page finishes the round in top position.
Round Two: Johnson throws a head kick early and Page drops his hands and sticks his tongue out. They clinch up and both look for the takedown. It’s Page who finally gets it, but Johnson pops up immediately. Now he catches Page with a kick to the groin and Page is going to need a minute. Action resumes and Johnson scores a takedown after ducking under a punch from Page. Page able to work to his feet when Johnson tries to take his back but Johnson stays on him and takes him down again. Johnson lands three unanswered shots from top position, ending with a vicious right elbow.
Round Three: Page falls forward throwing a left hook early and Johnson takes advantage, catching him with an uppercut and then a head kick as he falls back. Page goes to his back and looks to cover up. Johnson falls on to of him and Page tries to clinch up against him to prevent taking damage. Johnson in his half-guard and works more ground and pound. Johnson transitions into a guillotine now and it’s tight. Page forced to tap. Johnson wins via submission.
Raphael Assuncao (15-3) vs. LC Davis (16-4)
Round One: Davis breaks the ice with a jab that slips under Assuncao’s chin. Davis shoots for a single leg and Assuncao catches him in a guillotine. Davis flips over to try and get out of it, Assuncao keeps the hold in place but Davis gets into side control and Assuncao won’t be able to finish the fight form here. Assuncao finally lets go of the hold and puts Davis in his guard. Assuncao going for a lot of submissions off his back and he ends up kicking Davis off and getting back to his feet. Action’s going to stop here as Davis catches a kick with his cup. Superman punch from Assuncao lands after the break. Twenty seconds left and Assuncao gets a final takedown to try and steal the round.
Round Two: Assuncao closes the distance and clinches Davis up against the fence early. Assuncao working for the takedown and he gets it, dragging Davis to his butt. Davis uses the fence to work back to his feet and finally breaks away with 2:30 to go. Davis throws an aggressive straight right and Assuncao ducks under and clinches him against the fence again. Assuncao wants nothing to do with Davis’s standup right now. Davis able to shove him off again it’s back to the center of the cage. Neither guy able to do much offensively rest of the way and we’ll see a third round.
Round Three: Assuncao fits in a jab and then slips a counter hook from Davis. Davis comes in hard with a combination and clinches up on the back end of it. Neither can land anything from here and they break. Leg kick lands for Assuncao. Front kick lands for Assuncao as Davis lets his hands go. Davis lands a hard body kick that knocks Assuncao down but Assuncao gets to his feet quickly and Davis doesn’t pursue. Assuncao wants to take it down here and he ties up Davis in the clinch and then wrestles him to the ground. One minute to go. Davis back to his feet with 45 seconds left and he needs something here. Assuncao uses a front kick to keep him away. Davis shoots a single leg and Assuncao sprawls and lands a few nice elbows to the side of Davis’s head as the round ends. Assuncao wins via unanimous decision.
Anthony Njokuani (14-4) vs. Edward Faaloloto (5-1)
Round One: Njokuani leads with a jab that gets through Faaloloto’s defense. Faaloloto ducks under another jab and looks for a takedown, Njokuani backs up to the fence and stays on his feet. Tied up in the clinch now and both guys throwing knee, one of them catches Njokuani low and that’s going to stop the action for a moment. Faaloloto shoots, Njokuani defends it at first but Faaloloto gets behind him, wraps him up and slams him down. Njokuani reverses the position though and ends up in top position. Faaloloto tries to transition to a leglock and it forces Njokuani to roll away and let him get back to his feet. Nice right hook lands for Njokuani after feinting the jab. And now a hard straight right for Njokuani. Same combination works for Njokuani again and Faaloloto clinches him up against the fence to slow things down.
Round Two: Njokuani using the jab effectively here to start the second. Faaloloto catches a leg kick and throws a few straight rights but Njokuani using good head movement and proving tough to find. Njokuani gets Faaloloto by the back of the neck and throwing a lot of knees here. They go to Faaloloto midsection and clearly got him hurt. Now Njokuani with a beautiful trip to put Faaloloto on his back. Njokuani in side control and landing a few nice elbows. Faaloloto works to his feet though with 90 seconds left. They move up against the fence and now Njokuani returns the favor from the first round with a knee that accidentally catches Faaloloto’s groin. Action resumes and Njokuani pouring it on here at the end of the round. He gets in the Muay Thai clinch again and lands a few knees and now a right elbow that puts Faaloloto down in the final ten seconds of the round. Referee Steve Mazzagatti’s seen enough and he calls it. Njokuani wins via TKO.
Zack Micklewright (9-3) vs. Dustin Poirier (8-1)
Round One: Poirier comes out firing imediately, surprising Micklewright with a flurry of hooks. He connects on several of them and you can see the effect they have on Micklewright. Micklewright trying to recover but Poirier catches him again with a straight left, continues unloading hooks and referee Kim Winslow is going to come in and stop this immediately. Micklewright was out on his feet, as he’s swaying back and forth with Winslow basically keeping him up. Impressive win for Poirier. Poirier wins via TKO.
Clint Godfrey (11-3) vs. Michael McDonald (11-1)
Round One: Godfrey fires off an inside leg kick. Nice one-two combination lands for McDonald. And bam, McDonald drops Godfrey with a straight right. McDonald hops over him and looks to finish but Godfrey shakes the cobwebs off and Mcdonald lets him to his feet. Godfrey clinches him up and looks for a takedown. Nice sprawl by McDonald but Godfrey sticks with it and ends up with a beautiful slam that puts McDonald on his back. McDonald off his back, locks in an armbar and Godfrey has to tap instantly. Mcdonald wins via submission.
Cub Swanson (15-4) vs. Mackens Semerzier (7-3)
Round One: Both guys trade leg kicks early in round one. Swanson lands a hard right leg kick again but Semerzier comes forward hard and lands the takedown. Swandson immediately back to his feet though. Now Semerzier with a flying knee attempt and then another one after forcing Swanson to back off. Swanson catches a body kick and tries to counter but Semerzier, standing on one foot, throws a hard right hook that lands flush. Semerzier works the takedown with 90 seconds left but Swanson throws a few upkicks from his back and gets back to his feet. Semerzier with a hard straight right near the end of the round but Swanson weathers it and lands a big shot of his own just as the horn sounds.
Round Two: Overhand right lands for Semerzier early in the round and he pushes Swanson’s back to the cage. They break, but not before a good knee lands for Semerzier. Another overhand right followed by a left hook for Semerzier. Swanson now going for the takedown, Semerzier goes to his butt for a second but jumps back to his feet and they end up in a clinch against the fence. Overhand right now for Swanson this time and he picks up Semerzier and drops him to the ground for a moment. Semerzier right back to his feet with half the round still to go. Spinning backfist now for Swanson but Semerzier shakes his head and says I didn’t feel it. Two straight punches connect for Swanson now and he catches Semerzier with a kick at the end of it. Momentum all for Swanson now as he drives in and takes Semerzier down to finish the round.
Round Three: Both guys throw kicks at the same time and Swanson gets swept off his feet. He gets back to his feet and immediately puts Semerzier on his back with a double leg. Semerzier uses the fence and gets back to his feet and they break. Semerzier catches a body kick and lands a straight right before dumping Swanson on his back. Swanson transitions to a guillotine though and works back to his feet. More exchanges in the middle of the cage with Swanson getting the better of it. Swanson really taking control now as he tags Semerzier with a string of unanswered hooks. Semerzier lands a hard knee under Swanson’s chin and now drags him down to his back. Swanson trying to get up but Semerzier traps him against the fence and rains down punches with his left hand. Swanson can’t get out of this and now gives up his back. He gets Semerzier back to half-guard and then gets to his feet where the two just stand and trade punches for the final 10 seconds. Swanson wins via split decision.
Brandon Visher (13-2) vs. Yves Jabouin (15-6)
Round One: Jabouin throws a leg kick to get the action started. Visher throws an overhand right, blocked nicely by Jabouin. Jabouin sets up a nice body kick with a feinted jab. Jabouin comes in and puts Visher in a Muay Thai clinch but Visher lets his hands go with a series of eight or nine hooks from both hands and makes Jabouin retreat. 90 seconds left and Jabouin takes Visher down with a nice trip. Visher works back to his feet momentarily but Jabouin takes him right back down with a slam. Jabouin finishes round in top position.
Round Two: Jabouin comes out aggressive with a head kick. Visher tries to respond with a body kick but Jabouin counters it with a left hand and then throws another nice head kick. Two overhand rights from Visher and the second one lands. Jabouin throws another head kick, Visher times it well and goes for a takedown but Jabouin sprawls and reverses it into a slam of his own, nicely done. A few good elbows land for Jabouin out of top position. Jabouin stands up over the downed Visher, comes down hard with a right hand and now puts him in a guillotine. Visher fights out of it but still in a tough spot with his back to the fence. He ends the round with a successful flurry that catches Jabouin off-guard, but still appears he lost the round.
Round Three: Visher lands a hard right hook at the start of the round but doesn’t really come forward off it. Nice uppercut lands for Jabouin on the back end of a jab. Fans urging Visher to come forward more knowing he’s down and he does now with a combination and a takedown attempt. Jabouin avoids all of it, circles around to put Visher against the fence and now takes him down with three minutes to go. Jabouin crams Visher’s head to the fence and lands some decent ground and pound. He finishes the round with another guillotine attempt that won’t go. Jabouin wins via unanimous decision.