- Brian Knapp
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The explosive and charismatic Faber buckled the World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight champion with a straight right midway through the first round but was never the same. "The California Kid" injured his hand with the blow that, in hindsight, he would have been better off leaving in the chamber. From there, Brown methodically chipped away at the former titleholder and notched a unanimous decision victory in the WEC 41 Brown vs. Faber main event at the Arco Arena.
Scores were 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47 as Brown spoiled Faber's homecoming.
"Urijah's tough, man," Brown said. "I just really couldn't get my gloves [on] his head. He's a world-class fighter. It was my night again. We're the two best guys in the world [at 145 pounds]."
The injury handcuffed Faber at every turn, as his offense was limited mostly to the first round. He cut Brown near the left eye inside the first five minutes but later had to resort to lunging elbows and open-handed slaps instead of punches. The 30-year-old Faber (22-3) threatened Brown with a modified guillotine choke late in the fifth round, but he could not secure the hold because of the damage to his hand.
"That happened midway through the first round," Faber said. "I apologize. You know, I like to go out there and bang straight up. My weapons were gone. I hurt both my hands and just stayed in there. I was all elbows after that. I'd love to get back in here and get another shot at this title."
Brown (22-4), another accomplished American Top Team product, answered whatever doubters might have remained. He tightened his grip on the match in the third and fourth rounds with some nice clinch work, occasional ground-and-pound and crisp stand-up combinations. The champion finished strong, as he took down Faber four times in the final stanza.
"I just can't wait to see Urijah back in the mix," Brown said. "It looked like he damaged his hand a little bit somewhere in that fight. Maybe it would have been even more of a war. I knew he was hurting in there."
Clearly the sport's top 145-pound fighter, Brown has won 10 fights in a row. His next test might come against Jose Aldo, the 22-year-old Brazilian wunderkind who stopped Cub Swanson in eight seconds in the co-main event.
"He's awesome," Brown said. "I think it would be a great title fight."
Aldo owns Swanson
Brutalized by a wicked flying knee, Swanson withered at the feet of the Brazilian featherweight contender in a technical knockout loss that lasted all of eight seconds. The 22-year-old Aldo (15-1) scored a direct hit with his knee shortly after the opening bell, and Swanson immediately crumbled to the mat in pain, his left eye cut by the blow.
Follow-up strikes finished it, but it became clear soon after Swanson (13-3) folded that he was finished. He had won 13 of his previous 14 bouts and had never been knocked out.
Spawned by the Nova Uniao camp, Aldo has rattled off eight straight wins and has finished all five of his opponents since entering the WEC. He figures to be next in line for a title shot at 145 pounds.
"I want to be the champ," Aldo said. "I want to fight for the title."
Cerrone submits Krause
Cerrone (10-1, 1 NC) weathered two early takedowns and showed off his versatile skill set as he mixed powerful, accurate strikes with textbook grappling before finishing Krause with a rear-naked choke. The end came four minutes and 38 seconds into Round 1.
Based out of Jackson's Mixed Martial Arts in Albuquerque, N.M., Cerrone dropped Krause (10-1) with a short left hook-straight right combination, pounced on his wounded foe and quickly secured back control. From there, he flattened out Krause, cinched the choke and coaxed the tapout.
The 26-year-old Cerrone, a former national muay Thai champion, now has secured nine of his 10 career wins by submission. He appears to be on a collision course with reigning WEC lightweight king Jamie Varner, the only man to defeat him.
"I think he's taking a lot away from me, saying I don't deserve to fight him, saying I don't belong in the same ring with him," Cerrone said. "Anytime, anywhere."
Grispi sends off Pulver
The 20-year-old Grispi posted his ninth consecutive victory -- the last seven have come inside one round -- as he submitted the former UFC lightweight champion with a tight guillotine choke 33 seconds into their featherweight bout.
"I was praying all the way down here; I was f---ing scared," Grispi said. "I don't really have a game plan when I fight. I just go in there and do what I do."
Grispi (13-1) caught Pulver with his head tucked on a takedown, locked up the guillotine in full guard and waited for the tapout. After a momentary struggle to free his neck, Pulver (22-12-1) succumbed to the choke and surrendered. The 34-year-old pioneer has lost four consecutive fights and six of his past seven. Afterward, Pulver hinted that it might be time to walk away.
"I started here, and I think I just ended in the same place I started," Pulver said. "I came out here and gave you guys everything I had. I love this sport. I'm not saying I'm done yet, but it's been incredible."
Brian Knapp covers MMA for Sherdog.com. Loretta Hunt contributed reporting on the preliminary bouts.