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WEC 34 Review: Faber, Torres retain titles

The main card of WEC: Faber versus Pulver got better with each fight, culminating in a furious bantamweight showdown and a featherweight bout that lasted four rounds longer than most expected.

In the main event, Urijah Faber displayed blinding speed and refined striking en route to a competitive yet clear unanimous victory over Jens Pulver. The win keeps Faber undefeated at featherweight while handing Pulver his first defeat in the weight class.

The first round set the pace for the entire bout, with Faber using his younger and more explosive body to out strike the veteran. The fight went to the ground once in the round, after Faber missed a big head kick and slipped, but Pulver couldn't do any damage from the top and eventually stood up. Faber's was just too fast, often leaving Pulver hitting air as he attempted to respond to the sharp punches.

After an early groin shot and subsequent time out to start the second, Faber lands the most substantial blow of the night, a hook that drops the challenger. Faber lets loose, clearly intending to finish the fight with a barrage of strikes, but Pulver weathers the storm and responds with some punches of his own. A stunned Faber looks for a takedown, but Pulver has none of it. Faber looks to have recovered by the end of the round, but he was in a very dangerous position for a while. Pulver is clearly in it to win it.

The third round could have arguably gone to Pulver as he sprawled Faber's takedown attempts and scored on the feet. Faber landed a big suplex early, but his wild style allowed Pulver to capitalize on his few mistakes and keep himself in the bout.

For the rest of the fight, Faber controlled the action simply with his faster and crisper punches. Pulver was clearly getting worn down, but he defended well and occasionally managed to contain Faber long enough to land some combos. In the end, though, the judges all saw it for Faber, scoring the fight 50-45, 50-44, and 50-44 for the champion.

Miguel Torres and Yoshiro Maeda put on an amazing show for the Sacramento crowd that ended in a doctor stoppage after the third round. Maeda's face began to show the signs of the fight's brutal pace, as his right eye was too swollen to allow him to continue.

If there was anyone watching who didn't know who Miguel Torres was, they do now. The champion set a frenetic pace both standing and on the ground that was answered skillfully by the challenger. The first round opened with Maeda pushing Torres onto his back early but Torres was quick to stand and respond with a series of knees to the midsection. Both fighters weren't the least bit hesitant about throwing the leather, and neither seemed too hurt despite several heavy blows. The fight would hit the ground again, and Torres would show off his submission expertise by quickly securing an omaplata on Maeda's right shoulder. Maeda, though, kept his composure, escaped, and landed two hard right hands on the grounded champion.

The second round was simply incredible. The impossibly fast pace continued, but each fighters seemed to be more comfortable. At one point, Maeda threw Torres to the ground. Torres called him down with a gesture of his hands then delivered a lunging upkick that just missed Maeda's face. When the fight returned to the feet, each fighter attacked every open space on his opponent, landing punches, knees, low and high kicks and elbows. Torres landed beautiful combos then bounced away from the action to taunt his opponent. Maeda responded with a flurry of his own and the same taunt. The rounded ended on the ground, with Torres on Maeda's back and looking for submissions. Easily the best five minutes of the night, and possibly the best round of mixed martial arts all year.

The third round was all Torres. Maeda showed heart and was able to land occasionally, but Torres used his substantial reach advantage to chip away at the right side of the challenger's face. Maeda's eye swelled shut and he could no longer protect himself from Torres' merciless onslaught.

Both fighters showed amazing heart and tenacity. After Saturday's CBS debacle, it's a shame that more people didn't get to see this to understand what MMA is really about.

After some initial trouble securing the takedown, Mark Munoz managed to take Chuck Grigsby down and finish him with standing ground and pound at 4:15 of the first round.

Grigsby's long frame and conservative stance allowed to sprawl Munoz's first takedown attempt and even land some heavy counter punches than had Munoz backing up. Eventually, though, Munoz secured a single leg and put the fight on the mat. The wrestling champion stood out of his opponents guard and began dropping bombs that were hitting their mark often enough to keep Grigsby busy defending. A final bomb missed its mark, but as Grigsby attempted to get out of his precarious position, he dropped his hands and ate a shot to the face that stunned him. Munoz followed it with several more, prompting the referee to stop the bout.

"Razor" Rob McCullough had trouble dealing with his opponent's elusiveness and counter-punching, but managed to get a split decision win over a tough Kenneth Alexander.

McCullough showed off an excellent sprawl repeatedly as Alexander would begin to lose the striking battle and look for a takedown. The few times he was on his back, he took almost no damage and got back to his feet in quick order. With Alexander showing solid defense with the hands, McCullough turned to leg kicks to score points. Though neither landed anything substantial, McCullough controlled the action for most of the bout and seemed to be doing damage at the end with his kicks.

Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone is quickly establishing himself as a forced to be reckoned with in the WEC lightweight division. It took him just thirty seconds to submit Danny Castillo, silencing a rowdy Sacramento crowd that was rooting for their hometown boy from the beginning.

Cerrone came out aggressively, but missed a kick and was taken down. After throwing out several submission attempts, he slipped on a slick armbar and got the tap from a stunned Castillo.

Rest of the Card:

Dominic Cruz def. Charlie Valencia via unanimous decision

Jose Aldo def. Alexandre Franca Nogueira via TKO (strikes) - R2 (3:22)

Alex Serdyukov def. Luis Sapo via TKO - R1 (5:00)

Tim McKenzie def. Jeremy Lang via submission (guillotine choke) - R3 (0:40)

Will Ribeiro def. Chase Beebe via split decision

Mike Brown def. Jeff Curran via unanimous decision

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