The Palace Casino October 14th, 2005 Lemoore, California
Although the card featured big names like Pride veteran Vernon “Tiger” White and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Ricco Rodriguez, most of the buzz for WEC 17 seem to focus around the Light Heavyweight tournament. Where Chute Boxe was to clash with Ruas Vale Tudo and a Capital City Fighting Alliance heavyweight was making his 205 debut vs. a Caesar Gracie trained “Wrecking Machine”. Everyone had their favorites but only one man would shine in this 4 man tournament that exceeded all of my expectations.
The first tournament fight was Capital City Fighting Alliance member Scott Smith vs the heavily favored Caesar Gracie standout Tim McKenzie. The more experienced McKenzie was coming off a six second first round KO over Canadian UFC vet Bill Mahood. Smith making his debut at light heavy was coming off a win over 0-2 John Seilhan. Smith hasn’t fought in over a year.
The fight started out, as predicted by many fight fans, with McKenzie hurting Smith early. McKenzie landed a big knee to Smiths chin that had Smith stumbling back and landing against the fence. McKenzie wasted no time in launching a barrage of hooks and strait punches that seemed to put a covered up Smith out of the fight. Smith didn’t buy into McKenzie’s hype. With a display that would have been slow motioned on NBC’s the Contender Smith fired back with lefts and rights while still taking some of McKenzie’s best shots but delivering a few good shots of his own. Smith was able to back McKenzie against the fence where he gained a Thai clinch and landed a devastating knee of his own. A stunned McKenzie wobbled then took another big punch from Smith and it was all over. McKenzie fell down and covered up while Smith delivered enough blows from half guard to make Herb Dean stop the fight. Scott Smith over Tim McKenzie by TKO (Punches) at 2:25 in round 1.
The next tournament fight featured Chute Boxe USA member Jorge Oliveira vs Ruas Vale Tudo member Justin Levens. Oliveira was coming off an impressive decision victory vs Shonie Carter in his North American fight debut (Jorge is rumored to have had a few fights in Brazil). Levens undefeated at 6-0 has never had a fight last longer than 4 minutes.
After a stare down that was a little to close for me and Levens the fight began, with both men looking to strike. After a brief exchange the men clinched and Levens took it to the ground where he was forced to fight off a deep Omo Plata attempt. After escaping the two fighters got to their feet with Oliviera eventually gaining the clinch and the takedown. Once on the ground the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt was easily able to gain full mount. Oliviera was not able to mount any real attack before he was bridged off and forced onto his back with Levens in his guard. The ground expert once again looked for a submission this time getting Levens in a triangle choke. Fortunately for Levens, he had his arm out so he was in no real danger of getting choked but Oliviera could easily transition to Omo Plata. Before Oliviera could attempt another Omo Plata Levens did his best impersonation of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson by picking up Oliviera and slamming him as hard as he could on the mat. Although he didn’t quite get the hang time of a Jackson slam the results where the same. Oliviera was knocked out cold and the ref called the fight with 3:41 gone by in the opening round. Justin Levens over Jorge Oliveira by KO (Slam) at 3:41 in the first round.
While watching the other exciting fights of the evening I heard the unfortunate news that Levens would not be able to fight due to a shoulder injury. I later learned, after talking to him, that he couldn’t lift his arm shortly after the fight. I asked him if it had happened during the slam or when he was fighting off the Omo Plata and he said he wasn’t sure. Although I was disappointed to not get to see Levens fight again I was content on knowing that I would see a great match up in Vernon White vs Scott Smith. White was the winner in the 205 tournament alternate fight that happened shortly after the Levens/Oliviera fight. But surprise surprise another injury had occurred. Vernon broke his hand in his previous fight and now it was up to Tait Fletcher to step up and fight in the biggest fight of his career. Fletcher is coming off a win over a year ago to Andy Montana and trains with Eddie Bravo at 10 th Planet Jiu Jitsu.
The fight started with both men striking, with the belt on the line Fletcher let his hands go and surprisingly stunned Smith forcing him to clinch and get the takedown. With Fletcher in his element he quickly began working his open guard trying to gain “Mission Control” while Smiths corner yelled for him to back out. After a failed Omo plata attempt Tait got back to his feet. The fighters began trading again with Fletcher getting the best of Smith again but this time with elbows. It look as thought the Jiu Jitsu specialist was going to out brawl the brawler when Smith landed a devastating right hook that sent Fletcher to canvas. Smith got off one last punch before Dean was able to step in and stop the fight with 3:55 gone by in round 1. Congratulations to Smith for becoming the new WEC Light Heavyweight Champ. Scott Smith defeats Tait Fletcher by TKO (Ref Stoppage) 3:55 in round 1.
In super heavyweight action former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez took on former King of the Cage super heavyweight champion Jimmy Ambriz. Ricco was coming off a loss to WEC super heavyweight champ Ron Waterman who showed impressive wrestling skills in his lay and pray decision victory. Ambriz who has been winless since leaving KOTC in 2003 was coming off a submission loss to Dan “The Sandman” Christison at IFC WC 19.
Rodriguez, who displayed better take down defense and more size (288lbs) than he did vs. Waterman, did not allow Ambriz to ever fully secure a take down. This seemed to be Ambrizs kryptonite as he quickly gassed halfway thru the first round. Ambriz becoming frustrated with his inability to take his opponent down began to trade with Rodriguez. This ultimately led to Ambrizs demise. After taking a right left punch knee combo Ambriz fell down then tapped causing the ref to stop the fight. Ricco Rodriguez over Jimmy Ambriz by Tapout at 4:13 in Round 1.
In the 205lb tournament alternate bout UFC vet Vernon “Tiger” White took on newly nicknamed Pride vet Alex “the Anarchist” Stiebling. Vernon was coming off a submission loss from Team Quests Matt Horwich at SportFight 12. Stiebling was coming off a submission loss from Team Quests Chael Sonnen at the last Halloween Fury.
The first round was a stand up and grappling war that had Vernon edging out Stiebling after landing some heavy punches from Stieblings guard. After Ken Shamrock gave Vernon some boxing advice he wasted no time in taking it by dropping Stiebling with a straight left on Alex’s chin. The ref stopped the fight with 9 seconds gone by in the round. Vernon White over Alex Stiebling by KO at 0:09 in the second round.
Submission of the night award goes to Cole Escovedo. Who pulled guard standing then crawled up Joe Martin to set up the triangle. Martin countered by slamming Esconvedo to the mat but it was too late. The choke was sunk in deep and Martin tapped out. Cole Escovedo over Joe Martin by tap out (Triangle Choke) at 1:05 in round 1.
The local favorite Poppies Martinez looked to take on Robert Breslin but the fight was over before it started. Shortly after Martinez and Breslin clinched Breslin threw a knee directly to Poppies groin. After it was determined Martinez could not continue the fight was declared a No Contest.
The WEC World Lightweight Championship was on the line as Gabe Ruediger tried to avenge his only career loss against Sam Wells. Ruediger came out in the first round showing why he is the champ by dominating Wells from the clinch and on the ground. In the second round Wells stepped up and showed why he won the first match between the two by knockout. Wells getting the best out of exchange of punches with Ruediger had his opponent dazed and on his back. Ruediger miraculously survived a vicious barrage of punches and even came back in the round ending up on top after a failed ankle lock. The Third Round was all Ruediger as he once again dominated the clinch and basically won the fight by taking Wells down with a textbook double. Gabe Ruediger over Sam Wells by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
Mike Pyle took on Bret Bergmark for the vacated WEC World Welterweight Championship belt. The belt was vacated when Karo Parisyan fought in the UFC after taking it from Shonie Carter. “The Angry Hick” looked to end the fight early with an ankle lock but Pyle spun out of it and ended up with Bergmark in his guard with one arm out. Pyle quickly went for the triangle choke while Bergmark looked to set up the slam. Bergmark going for his best impression of Rampage was stopped in his tracks by a blue belt level sweep from Pyle that even the Black Belt Oliviera didn’t look for. Under hooking Bergmarks right leg Pyle sent the hick to the mat who then quickly tapped to the choke. After the fight Shonie challenged Pyle for the 170lb belt. Mike excepted on the condition that Shonie put his jewel encrusted WEC belt on the line. Mike Pyle over Bret Bergmark by tap out (Triangle Choke) at 3:36 in round 1.
Although Lavar Johnson was scheduled to meet Rafael Real for the WEC Heavyweight belt, Real suffered an injury and Johnson settled and fought Corey Salter instead. The fight started with both fighters looking to strike. Lavar landed some good jabs, using his superior reach to his advantage. Salter smarted up and quickly took the fight to the ground where he gained full mount. Lavar using his, hold on for dear life strategy, effectively tied Salter up. All the hugging seemed to tire Salter so Lavar took advantage and flipped Corey over and began striking from the guard. Salter had little to no answer for the attack and when Johnson quickly passed his guard and gained mount Salter gave up and tapped out. Lavar Johnson over Corey Salter Tap Out (Strikes) at 3:37 in round 1.
Antonio Banuelos put on another great performance against King of the Cage Vet Ed Tomaselli. Banuelos quickly took down Tomaselli with a text book double and was able to finish the fight by cutting Ed with a flurry of elbows. Antonio Banuelos defeats Ed Tomaselli by TKO (Cut) at 2:25 in round 1.
UFC vet Gil Castillo was able to win his first fight in over 2 ½ years by getting a ref stoppage against an always game Steve Ramirez. Although Ramirez put up a good fight in between picking up his athletic supporter off the mat, he was unable to recover from a big left thrown by Castillo in the begging of the second round. Castillo was able to get Ramirez to the ground where he finished off his wounded opponent from Ramirez’s back.
Gil Castillo over Steve Ramirez by TKO (Ref Stoppage Punches) at 4:01 in round 2.
Although Dexter was dominating the fight from the start Martinez won the fight after Dexter illegally kneed Martinez before he got his knees off the mat. An illegal knee would not normally end the fight but Dexter was warned earlier in the fight for a similar illegal knee and deducted a point. Andrew Martinez over Jimmy Dexter by DQ (Knee to the Head on the Ground) at 1:12 in round 1.
Kenny Ento “The Dragon” quickly got Charles Price to the ground and was able to transition from Prices back to an Armbar to take the win early in the first round. Kenny Ento over Charles Price by Submission (Armbar) at 1:19 in round 1.
The grossly out weighed Carlton Jones (235) was unable to stop the larger Shane Carwin (288) from taking him down gaining the mount and finishing the fight with strikes. Shane Carwin over Carlton Jones by Submission (Strikes) at 2:11 in Round 1.
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