WEC 17: Halloween Fury 4 All Treat, Few Tricks
By Loretta Hunt

LEMOORE, California (October 14, 2005) Live from the Palace Indian Gaming Center, World Extreme Cagefighting hosted its 17th event in four years, and once again, it was standing room only for the throngs of crazed fans that came out to see their local heroes and notables of the sport compete in no less than 15 bouts in central California's most famous cage.

Among the "names," a super heavyweight Ricco Rodriguez got back to his winning ways with a versed performance against the 300-pound Jimmy Ambriz in the main event. Rodriguez played a patient game in letting Ambriz pucker himself out along the fence trying to get the former UFC heavyweight champion down, then later unloaded with some left-rights and a final knee that crumbled his fellow Huntington Beach counterpart to the mat for a tapout.

Vernon "Tiger" White scored a knockout on a game Alex Stiebling tonight nine seconds into the second round, following a very close first round. With a verbal Ken Shamrock coaching from his corner, White eked out the first five minutes after reversing Stiebling from the top and landing some connecting head and body shots through Stiebling's guard. White is reported to have broken his hand for his efforts.

Gil Castillo also made his return to competition tonight after a 16-month absence with a second round victory over a passionate but ultimately outclassed Steve Ramirez. Local Ramirez did land a few punches on Castillo that would force the Cesar Gracie rep to shoot, but Castillo never seemed to really be in any true trouble as he eased himself on to the TKO win throwing punches to Ramirez's head after mounting his back.

Gil Castillo cracks Steve Ramirez with a solid right.
Castillo cracks Ramirez with a solid right.

A Tournament Unfolds

A main attraction of tonight's event was the 4-Man Light Heavyweight tournament, a format of fighting that has been all but eliminated in America in the last few years with the onset of the Unified Rules of Combat, but can still be visited on unaffected sovereign land. The tournament has its benefits, as fans naturally become invested in its build-up and the familiarity of watching a fighter perform more than once in a night. However, fighters tend to get hurt in fights, and more times than not, the rightful victor from a first fight can not move on to his second. Tonight was an example of the latter, and a shame for fans (and the fighters involved) because all four participants truly proved they belonged there, which made it a credible endeavor indeed.

In the first of the brackets, Cesar Gracie rep Tim McKenzie and Capital City Fighting Alliance's Scott Smith dug into each other on all cylinders. Both McKenzie and Smith looked sharp in the opening exchange, letting the crowd know neither was going to let their tournament hopes go by without a fight. Mohawked McKenzie was to first to tip the scales in his favor with a feverish punching onslaught that had Smith retreating to safer ground. Reuniting along the fence, the two duked it out with consecutive hooks and clinched. From there, Smith got an opening with a body knee that set up a tide-turning flurry and Smith chased a backpedaling McKenzie down until he lost his off-balance and fell back. From half guard, it didn't take Smith too long to open a cut near McKenzie's left eye and get the stoppage.

In the other short but satisfying tourney pairing, Justin Levens scored an early takedown on Chute Boxe U.S.A.'s Jorge Oliviera, only to find himself quickly shrugging off a swift triangle choke attempt. Levens got to his feet and the two struggled along the fence until it was Oliviera who advanced by tripping Levens down and taking mount. Levens managed to reverse out, but had to defend yet another triangle attempt and his back from the subsequent struggle. Restood, Levens landed on Oliviera who again took him down and secured another triangle. Looking to break the hold, Levens leapt through the air and slammed Oliviera down, which immediately knocked the Brazilian out cold. It is unclear if Levens' follow-up shots were what woke Oliviera up, but the stoppage that came just a second later was well justified.

With two fights down, the conclusion would close out the show. Yet true to the tournament's pitfalls, an injured Levens would not continue on to challenge Smith in the finals. Getting backstage, the Marco Ruas student realized he could no longer raise his shoulder, a possible tear he guesses might have come from his whopping slam on Oliviera. Alternate fighter Tait Fletcher, who had weighed in the day before and had not had a fight already that night, would come in fresh to meet Smith instead.

Justin Levens slams Jorge Oliviera into unconsciousness.
Levens slams Oliviera into unconsciousness.

In the finals, Smith again demonstrated some crisp striking but not after Fletcher, an Eddie Bravo student, surprisingly landed on him first and forced the takedown. After Fletcher landed a solid hook on Smith in the corner later, Smith retaliated with a left-right-left that knocked Fletcher out cold. A replay revealed the right was the zinger that did the job. Looking to move down to the 185-pound division, Smith has some hands that should be noted.

A bloody Ed Tomaselli after the stoppage.
A bloody Tomaselli.
Elsewhere on the card, WEC Lightweight champion Cole Escovedo almost pulled off a nifty flying triangle on Lion's Den newbie Joseph Martin. Latching the hold on while propped up high by Martin on the fence, Escovedo would have to settle for the more traditional version of the choke once Martin slammed him to the ground.

The Pit's resident 135-pounder Antonio Banuelos scored with a gorgeous slam that got some serious air on opponent Ed Tomasselli before the wrestler finished him with elbows and punches that cut Tomasselli under his eye and on his scalp for the stoppage.

American Kickboxing Academy's Lavar "Big" Johnson weathered two worthy punches from boxer Corey Salter in their heavyweight meeting, then managed to escape from under Salter's 260-pound full mount and finish the bout in his guard. Not enthused to take the forthcoming punishment coming his way, Salter verbally submitted as soon as Johnson hit mount.

Mike Pyle locks up a triangle choke on Bret Bergmark.
Pyle locks up a triangle choke on Bergmark.

A relaxed and poised Mike Pyle showed off some technically-pleasing trip takedowns on route to capturing the vacant WEC Welterweight Championship over a tough Bret Bergmark with a triangle choke; while WEC Lightweight Champion Gabe Ruedigar retained his title and avenged his only pro career loss to Sam Wells in a heated war of attrition. Pyle was respectfully challenged by former champion Shonie Carter following his bout. Ruedigar's next opponent remains uncertain.

Local favorite and North American Lightweight Champion Poppies Martinez was on the wrong end of a crushing knee to his groin from wacky opponent Robert Breslin that prematurely ended their bout only 23 seconds in. Breslin almost had numerous perturbed spectators to contend with as well for his WWE-wannabe antics, but his detractors were quickly silenced when it was announced the bout would be a no contest and Martinez's reign would remain intact.

WEC 17: Halloween Fury 4 Results

Mike Pyle captures the vacant WEC Welterweight Championship title.
Pyle captures title.
Andrew Martinez def. Jimmy Dexter Disqualification (knees) 1:15 R1
Kenny Ento def. Charles Price (275 lbs.) Armbar 1:19 R1
Shane Carwin def. Carlton Jones Tap out (strikes) 2:11 R1
Gil Castillo def. Steve Ramirez TKO (Referee stoppage - strikes) 4:01 R1
Antonio Banuelos def. Ed Tomaselli TKO (Referee stoppage - strikes) 2:25 R1
Cole Escovedo def. Joseph Martin- Triangle Choke 1:05 R1
Vernon White def. Alex Stiebling KO 0:09 R2
Lavar Johnson def. Cory Salter Verbal Submisson (strikes) 3:37 R1
Ricco Rodriguez def. Jimmy Ambriz TKO (Referee stoppage - strikes) 4:13 R1

WEC North American Lightweight Championship
Robert Breslin vs. Poppies Martinez No Contest (knee to groin) R1

WEC World Lightweight Championship
Gabe Ruediger def. Sam Wells Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

WEC World Welterweight Championship
Mike Pyle def. Bret Bergmark Triangle Choke 3:36 R1

4-Man Light Heavyweight Tournament

Scott Smith def. Tim McKenzie TKO (Referee stoppage - strikes) 2:25 R1
Justin Levens def. Jorge Oliviera TKO (Referee stoppage - slam) 3:41 R1*
Scott Smith def. Tait Fletcher (alternate) KO 3:55 R1

*FCF denotes a knockout

Scott Smith wins the 4-Man Light-heavyweight Tournament.
Scott Smith wins 4-Man Light-heavy Tournament.

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