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Condit passes tough test to retain WEC title

Without a doubt, Carlos Condit's toughest test as WEC champion came Sunday night in the form of Hiromitsu Miura. The Tokyo native was relentless in his attack and bounced back several times from the brink of defeat with defiant resolve. In turn, Condit put on what may be his most impressive performance to date, occasionally looking as if he were simply willing himself to victory.

The first round set off the fireworks. Both fighters threw cautious strikes, with Condit getting the better of the exchanges. When the distance between the fighters closed, though, Miura showed his judo expertise by sending Condit flying to the mat on three occasions. At one point, Condit dropped Miura with a straight right and pounced into side control to deliver strikes from the top. With the challenger protecting well, Condit went for an armbar that may've gotten him the victory against anyone else. But Miura was too quick and too strong. He escaped the armbar and delivered some ground strikes of his own before finishing the round with another thunderous throw.

In the second, the champion began to take over. The bout took place mainly on the ground; with Condit working his top game and taking mount several times. Each time, though, Miura would explode off his back and reverse the champion, following that up with ground and pound. On the feet, Miura actually began to take control. He nullified Condit's superior technique with aggression and power, but left himself open to repeated takedowns.

As the fight progressed into the fourth round, both men were clearly fatigued, yet managed to put on an amazing performance. Miura opened with a flurry of hard punches and transitioned into another judo sweep. Condit got back to his feet and secured a double-leg takedown, landing in half guard. Miura swept from the bottom but Condit went for a leg lock to avoid Miura's strikes. A referee stand up allowed the entire sequence to play out all over again, with Miura's aggression allowing Condit to secure a takedown, then Miura sweeping off his back to land some strikes.

As the fight went back to its feet again, Condit landed an accurate but tired knee to the challenger's face. Miura dropped, seemingly from both the knee and exhaustion. Condit followed up with hammerfists than Miura had no strength left to defend, prompting the referee stoppage at 4:43.

"It's fortunate that I came away with the win tonight," said Condit, after much applause from the Las Vegas audience. "I think I'm going to walk away from this a lot better fighter -- mentally, physically and spiritually."

Brian Stann hopes to be a better fighter in his next fights after eating a barrage of strikes from Steve Cantwell and losing his light heavyweight title.

In the end, Cantwell was simply too technical and Stann too inexperienced. "The Robot" controlled the pace of the bout, landing the stinging strikes on the champion. Towards the end of the first, he slipped on a high kick, allowing Stann to move in with hard ground strikes and amount his only major offense in the fight. In the second, Cantwell worked the fight into the cage and unloaded with punches, knees, and kicks, punishing the "All American" before finishing him with a big right and follow up punches on the ground to get the stoppage.

"He was more technical," Stann conceded. "He was more accurate with his strikes. He came and took me out of my own game, so hats off to him. I have no excuses."

Admitting his inexperience in the sport, Stann sounded confident in his ability to bounce back from this defeat.

"I have so much to learn, and I showed that tonight. I have not fulfilled my potential yet. I'm gonna make sure that tonight was the best thing to ever happen to me.

A victorious Steve Cantwell proclaimed that he plans "to continue to chew up 205 pounders". With a thinning division and the refined skill set he brings, there may not be much standing in the way of those plans.

Jamie Varner secured his first title defense with a bruising onslaught of strikes against a Marcus Hicks that simply refused to go down. Eventually, though, referee Steve Mazzagatti had seen enough and called the bout at 2:08 of the first.

Varner's height advantage was clear from the onset. He came out with jabs, intending to keep the shorter fighter at bay. Hicks closed the distance quickly, though, and slammed Varner to the mat several times as the taller fighter went for knees from the clinch. The Wrecking Ball almost ended the fight early with one of his vice-like guillotines, but Varner managed to slip out and turn the tide. A knee finally connected, dazing the challenger and setting him up a ruthless torrent of strikes. Hicks survived an almost impossible amount of punishment before dropping to the mat from a ringing straight right, unable to continue.

"The Worm" had nothing but praise for his opponent and looked forward to a potential rematch down the road.

"He's very tough, so strong," Varner said. "I haven't been taken down like that in MMA yet. This guy is the real deal and I'm sure I will see him here again."

If there were any doubts about Brian Bowles before Sunday night, they should be gone now. The 28-year-old from Athens, Georgia added a third impressive win in a row and kept his unbeaten streak alive by finishing Damacio Page with a guillotine at 3:30 of the first.

After spirited exchanges on the ground, the fighters traded strikes on the feet, with Bowles' superior combinations giving him the edge. After a failed takedown from Bowles, the fighters clinched up and the Georgia native immediately threw a knee. Page, however, anticipated well and caught the blow, lifting his opponent up for a big slam - a bad idea. Bowles used his time in the air to wrap his legs around "The Angel of Death" and sink in a guillotine. After fighting as much as he could, Page had no choice but to tap.

With the victory, Bowles hopefully quieted skeptics and likely set himself up for the next shot at the bantamweight title.

Josh Grispi wasn't at all concerned about Micah Miller's height advantage going into their fight.

"Yao Ming's tall but I could still beat his ass."

With that said, the 19-year-old prospect came out and took care of business, finishing Miller with strikes in just 50 seconds.

Grispi fired kicks from the opening bell. A series of chopping low kicks set up a high kick that Miller wisely defended. Tired of being on the receiving end of those kicks, Miller moved in to close the distance only to eat a right hand to the side of the head. He dropped to the mat and Grispi didn't waste a second to pounce with ferocious rights. Herb Dean stopped the fight, but Miller immediately got to his feet and protested, claiming he wasn't out. Upon replay, Miller ate two uncontested shots to the face, but did indeed get up rather quickly afterwards. A strange situation, but fair stoppage.

Rounding out the televised card was Brock Larson's 37-second destruction of Carlo Prater.

After a brief feeling out process, Larson landed a stiff right that sent Prater to the mat. A few punches later, Prater was out cold and Larson improved 23-2-1.