Smith KO's Levens, Pyle Taps Out Carter at WEC 18
Report by Loretta Hunt
Photography by Daisy Rosas
When two athletes go at it with every ounce of their being, 1:58 can leave an audience just as satisfied as a fight that goes the distance. Live from the Tachi Hotel & Casino tonight in Lemoore, California for WEC 18 "Unfinished Business," light-heavyweights Scott Smith and Justin Levens didn't need much time at all to show fans their varying, but equally appealing talents.
In the end, it was Smith who finished his business with an exclamation point KO on the man he had intended to meet in the 4-Man Light-heavyweight tournament the WEC had hosted just a few months before. Dropping out of the final round that night with a shoulder injury, Levens watched from the sidelines as Smith bested alternate Tait Fletcher. The two, along with the fans, had been itching to get in the cage against one another ever since.
Approaching each other at the bell, both intended to land the first punch, but it was Levens' who connected first, forcing a dazed Smith to his knees in a shocking opener that got the crowd on its feet.
Moving in for the kill, the nimble Levens found his way to Smith's back and was tossed forward onto his head before the pair scrambled to mirroring leg locks but a bat of an eyelid later. Smith managed to his feet with Levens now glued to his back. Smith prodded at Levens' grip around his waist as the mass moved from one corner of the cage and then to the other. Finally breaking Levens' hold, Smith whisked around and snapped off an overhand left, a right, and then another left. Levens fell to his back before Smith could land the fourth swing, but Smith had time to land four more follow-up shots on the ground that ushered Levens into unconsciousness. WEC promoters clasped Smith's second championship belt around his midsection as the crowd chanted "UFC! UFC!"
Wisely choosing not to trade with the heavy-handed Californian in the bout's opening seconds, wrestler Olsen executed a solid trip from the clinch and went to work on the fallen fighter for a few shots before Johnson made it to his feet. Johnson then picked up Olsen to slam him to the canvas, but collapsed on the attempt and Olsen landed in side control. Migrating to the fence, a pinned Johnson spent much of his energy trying to get to his feet, but couldn't find any wiggle room to escape. Olsen eventually slipped to mount, but couldn't get anything going before the bell sounded the end of the first round.
In his corner, Johnson must have been told to keep it on his feet, as he came out guns blazing on Olsen at the top of the second. Landing a knee flush that snapped Olsen's head back and flustered him, Johnson looked to be taking the reigns, but when he planted his feet, they crumbled underneath him mid-swing. Grabbing his knee and screaming in agony, Johnson tapped himself out as referee Herb Dean rushed to his side.
After a few moments, the towering heavyweight was able to stand on his own again and hobbled out of cage as Olsen was crowned the promotion's new heavyweight champion. Johnson's corner later told FCF that he had felt his knee buckle from the very first takedown of the bout.
Although the muscular Kyle started off strong on wrestler Cole by averting his opponent's takedown attempt with a hefty sprawl and a connecting follow-up punch, Kyle missed a high kick in the next exchange and slipped to his back where he would remain for the majority of the round.
At the bell, a bloody Kyle turned to his corner and said, "I can't see," but his corner managed to rally him out for the second round. Again, Cole went for the takedown and Kyle dodged it. Squinting from the blood still trickling from the gash, Kyle just didn't seem to have his head in the game and was taken down off a knee he threw to Cole's head. Cole would again capture mount three more times in the next three minutes, and on the final go-around, Kyle called it quits. Cole did not even bother to get up off Kyle's chest before raising his hands in celebration of the upset victory.
Action began at the bell as Pyle landed a front push kick that jarred Carter back. Then, both connected with punches simultaneously and Carter used the momentum to keel Pyle over for the takedown. Pyle bounced to his feet, Carter's head entangled in his arms for a guillotine attempt, but the seasoned vet popped out and fired off a brisk roundhouse kick. Clinching again, Pyle again fastened the guillotine -- this time from standing - and flopped to his back. Moving to an armbar and then a triangle choke, Pyle squeezed with all his might until Carter tapped out 2:06 into the round.
With some of sharpest technique of any of the lightweights out there, Rich "Cleat" Crunkilton would be well justified to drop the "cl" in his nickname and replace it with an "n." Best remembered as the tough-as-nails lightweight that refused to give in before Hermes Franca made a pretzel of his arm back at UFC 42, the Floridian vanished from the fight game with a broken arm and didn't return for a year and a half. Crunkliton made a quiet return to the WEC against outmatched Brit Paul Daley a couple of editions back, but really excelled against a game Nick Ertle here tonight.
Jabs, combinations, throws, slams, and two impressive axe kicks that had the crowd in awe, Crunkilton was a controlled and potent force, even complying with directions from cornerman "Crazy" Bob Cook, who told his sometimes vicious fighter to pace himself as he hunched over a grounded Ertle delivering hard punches to his chest and head.
Although Ertle did get in a shot or two of his own, Crunkilton's superior striking spoke volumes on Ertle's mangled face by round two. To his credit, he kept on coming.
"Combos, high and low," Cook coached from the sidelines, and a second later Crunklilton landed a hook and then a body shot with perfection. Executing takedowns freely throughout, Crunkilton trapped Ertle along the fence and began to unload elbows for the final sequence. Referee Herb Dean stepped in to put an end to the punishment shortly after.
In other lightweight action, Lion's Den newbie Joe Martin made a much more lasting impression than his last WEC appearance against triangle choke king Cole Escovedo. This time around, Martin was able to show a bit of his slick ground game with some armbar attempts and expert positioning underneath Casey Olson. Martin did exactly what he was supposed to underneath wrestler Olson (who scored his takedowns easily), spinning off the fence and tying up his aggressor to prevent Olson from scoring much damage.
However, it still wasn't enough for Martin as the bout went into its second set. Catching Martin midair as he attempted to surprise him with a flying knee, Olson again grounded the Lion's Den fighter, peppering him with body and head shots.
Both exhausted going into round three, Olson's takedowns proved too much for the judges to sway their favor in Martin's direction and the Pit/Pacific Martial Arts upstart was awarded the unanimous decision.
In the opening bout of the evening, it was a shame Rafael Del Real lost his cool when referee Josh Rosenthal peeled him off Josh Green after at least one of the multiple unintentional groan shots he fired off connected during a clinch along the fence. The Tulare heavyweight was looking as sharp as he's been in the WEC cage in a competitive back-and-forth bout with Green up until the illegal blow.
Referee Rosenthal attempted to get Del Real to a neutral corner and the fighter went into a rage, pushing and grabbing at the official's neck. It was apparent Del Real did not agree with the break-up, taking fans back to his last fight a few month's earlier when he also unintentionally fouled opponent Jody Poff and again referee Rosenthal broke up the action to allow for a recovery period.
"Just like last time," Del Real screamed at Rosenthal as the situation quickly escalated. Both fighters' corners rose to their feet and hugged the cage as referee Herb Dean stepped in and pinned Del Real to the fence until the bad air dissipated.
Luckily for the hotheaded fighter, referee Rosenthal decided not to disqualify him on the spot for the assault, he says because Del Real did not hit him. After Green's five-minute rest period, he still couldn't continue and the fight was called a no-contest.
Also on the card, Vernon "Tiger" White made his second strong showing in a row at the WEC, proving oldies can still be goodies. White used crisp kicks (including a bona fide sidekick that squashed opponent Jason Guida's face like a piece of clay) and two penetrating knees to bring Guida down and open a deluge of blood from his nose that never seemed like it would stop. White would later inflict two substantial lacerations (one above Guida's left eyebrow and other below his right eye socket) from a barrage of only two or three punches, leaving Guida's face with not an inch not covered in blood. A ringside physician would call off the fight between rounds one and two.
Local last-minute replacement Billy Evangelista made a strong showing versus North West Elite's Chris Healy, catching his backpedaling opponent with a counterpunch combination in round two that opened a lengthy cut parallel to Healy's eyebrow. The referee would later stop the fight on account of the wound.
WEC 18: Unfinished Business Results
Josh Green vs. Rafael Del Real – No Contest (groin strike) 3:26 R1
Billy Evangilista def. Ryan Healy – TKO (Referee stoppage - cut) 1:46 R2
Richard Crunkilton def. Nick Ertle – TKO (Referee stoppage - strikes) 3:55 R2
Chris "Light Out" Lytle def. Savant Young – TKO (Referee stoppage - tap out) 3:50 R1
Casey Olson def. Joe Martin – Unanimous decision (30-27)
Devin Cole def. Mike Kyle – TKO (Referee stoppage - tap out) 2:56 R2
Vernon "Tiger" White def. Jason Guida – Doctor stoppage 5:00 R1
WEC World Welterweight Championship
Mike Pyle def. Shonie "Mr. International" Carter – Triangle choke 2:06 R1
WEC World Heavyweight Championship
Brian Olsen def. Lavar "Big" Johnson – TKO (Referee stoppage - tap out) 0:14 R2
WEC World Light-Heavyweight Championship
Scott Smith def. Justin Levens- KO 1:58 R1
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