The distance between World Extreme Cagefighting featherweight champion Jose Aldo and the rest of the 145-pound division might be greater than first thought.
Patient and precise, Aldo stopped top contender Manny Gamburyan on second-round punches in the WEC 51 "Aldo versus Gamburyan" headliner Thursday at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colo. Gamburyan succumbed to strikes 92 seconds into Round 2, experiencing defeat for the first time in four WEC appearances.
"When I came back in the second round, I just put all the work I'd been doing in the gym into the cage," Aldo said, "and I was able to knock him out."
Aldo -- who survived an early glancing encounter with a Gamburyan right hand -- attacked his foe with a series of leg kicks in the first round as he softened "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 5 finalist for what was to come. Aldo then clipped Gamburyan with a straight right hand in the second, sensed he was hurt and approached for the finish. As Gamburyan dropped for a defensive single-leg takedown, the Nova Uniao standout cracked him with a grazing uppercut, wheeled around behind him, and unleashed a furious stream of punches that left Gamburyan facedown and unconscious.
A winner in 11 consecutive bouts, the 24-year-old Aldo appears to have no equal in the featherweight division.
"If it's up to me," Aldo said, "my reign will last forever."
Cerrone evens the score with Varner
Donald Cerrone came out as the aggressor and never took his foot off the gas.
A multipronged attack that featured a variety of strikes and multiple takedowns drove Cerrone to a unanimous decision victory over archrival Jamie Varner in the co-main event. All three judges scored it 30-27 for Cerrone, who balked at the idea that the two men had buried the hatchet through bloodshed.
"Hell no," said Cerrone, who offered Varner a rematch afterward. "No way."
The two men had carried on a heated war of words since their January 2009 matchup ended in controversy, and it spilled into the cage. Cerrone overwhelmed the former WEC lightweight champion with his early aggression, putting Varner on his heels throughout an entertaining first round. Twice he buckled Varner, first with a blistering knee and later with a straight left hand.
In Round 2, Cerrone attacked Varner high and low. Leg kicks took their toll on the Arizona Combat Sports standout, and he succumbed to another Cerrone takedown 3 minutes, 20 seconds into the period. By the end of the round, Cerrone was up on the scorecards, and Varner was bleeding from his mouth, nose and multiple cuts on his forehead.
Varner landed a pair of crackling right hands midway through the third round, but Cerrone barely flinched. Later in the round, the Jackson's Mixed Martial Arts representative scored with another takedown and hammered away at Varner with short elbows inside the guard.
"Donald's a tough dude," Varner said. "I put up a good fight. He mixed it up. My hat's off to him. Donald beat me."
Torres submits Valencia
Former WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres put the brakes on a two-fight losing streak as he submitted Charlie Valencia with a second-round rear-naked choke. Valencia, finished for the first time in more than two years, met his demise 2 minutes, 25 seconds into Round 2.
Blessed with a 6-inch height and 11-inch reach advantage, Torres punctuated a relatively uneventful first round with a flurry, as he capitalized on a slip from Valencia. He swarmed the former King of the Cage titleholder with ground-and-pound in the closing seconds. In Round 2, Torres finished what he started. The 29-year-old Carlson Gracie protégé clipped Valencia with a right hand, followed with a head kick and forced a ground battle. Ultimately, he took Valencia's back, secured a body triangle and, after a brief struggle, cinched the choke.
Torres, who now trains at the same Tristar Gym that houses UFC welterweight king Georges St. Pierre, returned to the winner's circle for the first time since his memorable five-round duel with Takeya Mizugaki in April 2009.
Roop KO's 'The Korean Zombie'
"The Ultimate Fighter" Season 8 semifinalist George Roop knocked out Chan Sung Jung with a well-timed head kick in a featured featherweight matchup. The shocking and brutal end came 90 seconds into Round 2.
A former two-division Rage in the Cage champion, Roop controlled Round 1 against the Korean Top Team ace, as he kept Jung at a safe distance with leg and body kicks, stiff jabs, and accurate punches. In the second round, Jung, his hands held dangerously low, walked into a three-strike combination, the last piece of which left him flat on his back and unconscious. The kick landed behind Jung's right ear and dropped him where he stood.
"I'm a long fighter," Roop said. "I knew he was going to come in real aggressive. I thought my precision striking would win the fight. I'm really glad I got the opportunity to showcase my skills here."
Hominick picks apart Garcia, earns split nod
Carried by a jackhammer jab, accurate power punches to the head and body, and symphonic footwork, Canadian standout Mark Hominick defeated one-time featherweight title contender Leonard Garcia by split decision in a featured matchup at 145 pounds. Scores were 29-28 from all three judges, two of whom sided with Hominick.
Present throughout the 15-minute encounter, Hominick's left jab made a mess of Garcia's face by fight's end. The 28-year-old Shawn Tompkins protégé controlled the cage and backed up his foe with well-time strikes, as the tactician brought the fight to the brawler. As has been his tendency, Garcia fired away with high-risk, high-reward punches, most of which were either blocked or missed their intended target.
"We know Leonard has a big right hand," said Hominick, a Thamesford, Ontario, Canada, native who has rattled off four consecutive victories. "We wanted to make him miss, and we wanted to make him pay for missing. That was the game plan. He's very durable; he's very tough, so he's hard to finish."
Brian Knapp is a contributor to Sherdog.com.