The boo birds were out as Jamie Varner wins a split decision over Donald Cerrone. Courtesy of San Diego Tribune:
Jamie Varner crouched on the mat, his head hidden between his knees.
The mixed martial artist was trying to shake off the effect of what appeared to be a knee to the side of his head.
He stayed on the canvas, shaking his head as boos echoed through the Sports Arena from the 5,500 in attendance. Varner could no longer continue.
What had been an action-packed, lightweight World Extreme Cagefighting title match between Varner and Donald Cerrone last night was decided by the cards after an unintentional foul prompted the fight to be stopped midway through the fifth and final round.
And to the crowd’s displeasure, Varner was declared the winner via split decision of the four-bout card’s main event.
Cerrone caught a piece of Varner’s head as he was trying to pick himself up from the canvas. Varner reached to cover his face with both hands as Cerrone began to back off.
The fight was stopped, and by rule, was sent to the judges.
For a title bout to end early because of a foul is disappointing for a sport that prides itself in the toughness of its fighters.
The World Extreme Cagefighting circuit is the sister brand of Ultimate Fighting Championship, regarded as the top brand of mixed martial arts.
“I’m better than that, guys,” Varner said, reaching out from his corner to the booing crowd. “I’m really sorry. I broke my right hand in the second round. Boo me. Go ahead, . . . boo me.”
Most of the cheers from a lively crowd were for Cerrone, who managed to withstand a pounding by Varner for most of the bout. Varner said he also broke his foot on a kick to Cerrone’s face.
Cerrone left the cage with a bump on his head the size of an egg and two swollen, bloody eyes.
“I was seeing double for most of the third round,” Cerrone said. “I hope he gives me another chance. I don’t want to go back to the end of the line.”
Varner said he’ll offer a rematch and defend his title again.
Meanwhile, in a rematch of a classic battle between two of the sport’s top featherweights, Urijah Faber forced Jens Pulver into submission in the first round.
Faber beat Pulvers by decision in June in a fight that lasted the full five rounds, each five minutes.
Danilo Villefort used his jiu-jitsu skills to stop Mike Campbell via technical knockout 3 minutes, 53 second into the first round.
In the preceding fight, Jose Aldo of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, knocked out Chula Vista’s Rolando Perez with a vicious right knee to the face 4:15 into the first round of the featherweight bout.
Perez came in the underdog. Aldo is ranked in the top 10 in his weight class. Perez said he had two weeks to prepare for his WEC debut.
“I was in shape,” said Perez, who was a late addition to the card. “I think I can still beat him. I’ve never been stopped before.”
After the referee stopped the fight, Aldo sprinted out of the cage, hurdled a barrier and dashed up a flight of stairs into the stands. He stood in the aisle celebrating next to a pro-Perez crowd. Meanwhile, Perez, who trains at the Alliance gym in Chula Vista, lay on his back, trying to regain his senses.
“I was trying to make the crowd happy,” Aldo said through an interpreter.
Perez, who needed stitches to seal a cut on his nose, said he wasn’t surprised about Aldo’s postfight antics. He studied the Brazilian fighter before being presented with the opportunity to fight in the WEC.
“Honestly, I like his fighting style,” said Perez, a Hilltop High graduate. “I hope I get to fight him again. I’m just glad I had the opportunity to fight in San Diego.”
In the undercard, Johnny Cruz of San Diego defeated Ian McCall by unanimous decision.
Cruz (12-1), who also trains at the Alliance gym, used a combination of quick punches and several kicks to outlast his opponent.