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HyeFighters Manny Gamburyan & Karen Darabedyan Both WIN at WEC 44

Aldo’s first title challenger may have been determined in the night’s co-feature.

Gamburyan Beats Garcia at WEC 44

Gamburyan Beats Garcia at WEC 44

picture courtesy of:Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

From the moment “The Ultimate Fighter 5” runner-up HyeFighter Manny Gamburyan made his move from the UFC to WEC, fellow octagon vet Leonard Garcia appeared an obvious opponent.

And as both fighters continued moving up the featherweight ladder and into title contention, WEC officials decided to make the bout official while all but assuring the winner a shot at the belt.

The heated, three-round back-and-forth scrap went as expected, and even after 15 hard-fought minutes, a winner wasn’t obvious. Only after the judges’ scores were read (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) could Gamburyan finally celebrate his victory.

With takedowns at key times (which were often secured with little more than brute strength and determination) and the ability not to get suckered into his opponent’s wild and frantic exchanges, Gamburyan implemented a solid game plan to grind out the decision win. It wasn’t easy, though, as Garcia audibly dared the Armenian fighter to engage while dropping his hands and waving him in.

Gamburyan, though, knew a key to victory was avoiding Garcia’s big punches.

“I knew he was a tough guy,” he said. “Guys, he really does hit hard. … Hopefully we can do it again sometime.”

Gamburyan moves to 10-4 overall and 2-0 in the WEC with the win. Garcia, meanwhile, drops to 13-5 (3-2 WEC).

Darabedyan beats McCollough at WEC 44

Darabedyan beats McCollough at WEC 44

picture courtesy of:Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

Armenian transplant HyeFighter Karen Darabedyan thought he did enough to nab a decision against former lightweight champion Rob McCullough in his WEC debut, but he had to sweat it out some as the scorecards were read.

Two of the three ringside observers saw it in Darabedyan’s favor, 30-27 and 29-28, but world-renowned boxing referee Tony Weeks scored it 30-27 for McCullough.

Darabedyan gave McCullough trouble early in the fight with powerful left jabs, and when he engaged the former titleholder in flurries, he got the best of him virtually every time. McCullough’s Team Punishment cornermen begged him to throw more leg kicks, but he could not seem to crack Darabedyan’s style and looked reluctant to unleash. Darabedyan controlled the pace of the first two rounds and seemed as if he was going to coast unless the wheels came off in the fight’s final round.

McCullough turned the tide in round three, as he figured out his foe’s gameplan and unloaded with a vicious array of leg kicks. When McCullough goaded Darabedyan into spurts of flurries, his right hand and short left hook landed more frequently than not. Darabedyan eventually relented and backed away, sensing perhaps it was in his best interest to steer clear. McCullough’s rally fell short as a result.

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Karen Darabedyan vs Rob McCullogh: WEC 44

Manny Gamburyan vs Leonard Garcia:  WEC 44

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