Faber defends belt in WEC

Jun 2, 2008 - 4:26 AM By Anthony Malakian PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

Going into Sunday night's World Extreme Cagefighting main event, much was made about Jens Pulver being undefeated at featherweight. Unfortunately for the 33-year-old, his opponent, Urijah Faber, has never lost a fight at featherweight, either.

At the Arco Arena in Sacramento, California, Faber, fighting in front of his hometown fans, won a five-round unanimous decision to defend his belt for the fifth consecutive time. The scores read 50-45 and 50-44, twice, though, the fight was much more competitive than the scores would indicate.

"Jens, man, what an honor to fight this guy," the champion said after the battle. "He's a great role model and he's one of my heroes, and this means so much to me guys."

The marketing of Faber-Pulver as being the biggest featherweight bout in the history of mixed martial arts was not hyperbole. The fight lived up to the billing.

Faber got the fight off to a good start. The Californian's boxing was brilliant and he tagged Pulver with numerous hard punches. He also flashed a tight defense and never let Pulver land his massive left hand.

Midway through the second, Faber landed a huge left hook that dropped Pulver. Faber jumped on his rocked opponent and landed a barrage of heavy punches.

A lesser trained fighter would've been knocked out.

Amazingly, Pulver came back to land leather to Faber's face and looked to have the 29-year-old hurt toward the end of the round.

A big left kick and left punch to begin the third by Pulver (22-9-1) appeared to have Faber reeling again. He backed away in pain, but jumped in with an elbow, trying to show that he was OK.

"Jens has power," said Faber, who was extended five rounds for the first time in his career. "I haven't really had a chance to showcase mine because guys tend to take the fight down on the mat."

Faber, too, decided to the mat was a safer place and scored a nice takedown. From the middle of the third through the rest of the fight, it was Faber who had more in the tank and started to clearly take control of the fight.

The champ began landing left hooks at will in the fourth. Pulver's right eye was swelling quickly, possibly because of a thumb earlier in the fight, and it was clearly bothering him.

The final stanza was more of the same and Faber (21-1) took down Pulver for good measure to end the fight.

"He's fast man," Pulver said. "He can get in and out. He deserves to be the champion. Sacramento, you've got a great 145-pounder here."

Yes, the fight wasn't ever in doubt after the third round. But the bout featured enough ebbs and flows and exciting, skilled battling that a re-match may not be out of the question.

"I would love to see Faber-Pulver II," said Pulver, who also said he first would like a tune-up fight.

In the co-feature, Miguel Angel Torres made the first defense of his bantamweight title a successful one. In what will likely be a finalist for fight of the year, the 135-pound champ stopped Japan's Yoshiro Maeda in three rounds.

At the conclusion of the third, referee Herb Dean stopped the fight because Maeda's right eye was completely swollen shut, and he had taken some hard shots toward the end of the round.

"I had respect for him before the fight, but now I have a ton more respect for him. I wanted to put on a good show for all my fans in Sacramento," Torres said before thanking the fans for their support.

Torres, 27, had his hands full with Maeda through the first two rounds. Maeda (22-5-2) looked to win the opening round, though it was very close, by mixing soccer kicks and punches and even cut Torres on the bridge of his nose.

In the second, the two truly gave the crowd a show. At one point, both fighters were on the ground and had the other locked in a toehold submission. From start to finish, the two battled through non-stop punches and kicks from their opponent.

The final stanza saw Torres (34-1) start to pick apart Maeda by showing off his muay thai striking abilities. With Torres finding his groove, the stoppage appeared to be warranted.

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