Controversy seems a constant companion for former World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight champion Jamie Varner.
Varner battled through hand and foot injuries, three illegal groin strikes and a hailstorm of leg kicks from Kamal Shalorus, but his efforts were not enough to sway the judges from a draw in the WEC 49 "Varner versus Shalorus" headliner on Sunday at the Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta. Two judges scored the match 29-27 -- Nelson "Doc" Hamilton for Varner, Cameron Quwek for Shalorus. Cecil Peoples cast the deciding vote with a 28-28 draw, as the crowd bathed the cage in boos.
"I'm pretty sure I broke my right foot, broke my right hand, but I'm not going to lie: I think that was bogus," Varner said, his right hand hidden beneath an icepack. "I definitely feel I won the fight. But you know what? Kamal Shalorus is now the toughest guy you have heard of. I have much respect for this guy."
Varner staggered Shalorus twice with right hands and beat him consistently to the punch with quick and accurate power shots. One of his straight rights connected to the top of the Iranian's head in the second round, as Varner winced and retreated in pain. The leg kicks took their toll, too, though they proved problematic for Shalorus. He was deducted a point for his second shot below the belt.
"I swear I'm not like that," Shalorus said. "I'm a warrior. I don't cheat, but it was just an accident."
With his mobility limited by the heavy damage he absorbed to the inside and outside of his lead leg, Varner succumbed to a takedown in the third round and spent more than half of the final period on his back. However, Shalorus exacted little damage from inside Varner's guard and did not advance his position until late in the exchange. Varner ultimately returned to his feet and kept his distance in the closing seconds, believing he had already sewn up the decision. The judges thought otherwise.
Hominick TKO caps barn burner
In the riveting co-main event, UFC veteran Mark Hominick outlasted Yves Jabouin en route to a second-round technical knockout. Jabouin met his demise 3 minutes, 21 seconds into Round 2, as Hominick finished him with strikes from the mount.
"He's a tough man," said Hominick, a winner in five of his past six bouts. "That fight was eight years in the making. This was the most emotional fight I've ever been in."
For the better part of eight minutes, it was anyone's match. The two featherweights exchanged like madmen in the first round. Left hooks and straight rights were Hominick's weapons of choice. Jabouin, meanwhile, threw almost every strike imaginable, as he scored with kicks to the legs, body and head, quick jabs and even a spinning backfist.
Round 2 promised more of the same, until Hominick landed a crippling left hook to the body that brought Jabouin to his knees. The Haitian-born Canadian weathered the storm, however, and landed a Hail Mary right hook that put Hominick on his backside. He followed him into his guard, a position from which Hominick swept straight into mount. Out of gas, Jabouin could not mount a defense and ultimately succumbed to the onslaught.
"That's the first time in my whole career that I've ever had someone live up to their words, saying they're going to stand toe-to-toe with me," Hominick said, "and that's the kind of fight you're going to get with me if you stand toe-to-toe."
Afterward, Hominick threw his hat in the ring as a potential contender for WEC featherweight champion Jose Aldo's 145-pound throne.
"Every man in this division is so tough," he said, "but there's no one in this division that can bring to the table what I bring to the table against Jose Aldo."
Grispi choke finishes Davis
Featherweight contender Josh Grispi left L.C. Davis wide-eyed and unconscious with a slick guillotine choke 2 minutes, 33 seconds into Round 1 of their main card encounter. The victory, Grispi's ninth in a row, moves the 21-year-old into clear contention for the 145-pound crown held by Brazilian juggernaut Jose Aldo.
"I'm ready to test my skills against anyone," Grispi said. "Win or lose, I want to fight the best and test myself. Whatever the WEC wants, I'll do."
Grispi had a surprisingly easy time with Davis. The two featherweights traded early, as he used his height and reach to stay out of range. Midway through the first round, Davis scored with a takedown into side control but left his neck exposed, and Grispi capitalized. He deftly maneuvered Davis into full guard, tightened the choke and waited for the Sengoku veteran to drift off to sleep. With that, Grispi answered questions regarding the affects of his year-long, injury-related layoff.
"I'm too young for ring rust," he said. "I was so nervous for this fight, but I came in here and did my thing."
Horodecki notches first WEC win
In what can only be described as a clinical dissection, 2007 International Fight League lightweight grand prix finalist Chris Horodecki submitted promotional newcomer Danny Downes with a rear-naked choke 69 seconds into Round 3. The victory was Horodecki's first inside the WEC.
A Shawn Tompkins protégé, Horodecki spent the first two rounds thrashing Downes with takedowns and crisp multi-strike combinations to the head, body and legs. The 22-year-old Canadian grounded Downes twice in the first period and threatened him with a pair of submissions, first with an arm-in guillotine, then with a rear-naked choke. A late replacement for Ed Ratcliff, Downes survived, only to meet with more punishment in the second and third rounds.
Horodecki varied his attack beautifully, as he controlled his previously unbeaten foe in the clinch and rattled him with punches and kicks. He took down Downes again in Round 3, transitioned to his back without much resistance and sank the choke for the finish. Horodecki still has never lost back-to-back bouts.
Brian Knapp is a contributor to Sherdog.com.