Editor's note: Yahoo! Sports' Kevin Iole gave a live fight-by-fight tally of the World Extreme Cagefighting card at the Hard Rock Hotel on Saturday.
LAS VEGAS – In the card's opener, Eric Schambari spent most of his middleweight bout with Art Santore on the mat, which should have been to Schambari's advantage given his expertise as a ground fighter.
But Santore fought Schambari on even terms for most of the fight on the ground and forced Schambari to work harder than expected for a unanimous decision.
The first round was close as the men battled for control, but Schambari managed to land a few hard forearms in the second half of the fight that spelled the difference. Santore wound up with a cut alongside his left eye and a swollen jaw for his troubles.
"I knew he was tough, but I didn't expect him to be that tough," said Schambari, who improved to 6-0.
Schambari won all three rounds on the cards of judges Roy Silbert and Tony Weeks and won all but the first on the card of Patricia Morse Jarman.
• Johnny Sampaio nearly scored a victory in the first 30 seconds of his bout with Ed Ratcliff when he slapped on a rear naked choke. Ratcliff managed to survive and then pulled out a win when Sampaio injured a knee.
He had to verbally submit at 1:31 of the first round and was helped out of the cage by his trainers.
"I didn't do nothing," Ratcliff said. "He tried a hip toss and I stayed strong in my base and he twisted his knee."
• Manny Tapia made his WEC debut an impressive one, pummeling submissions expert Brandon Foxworth with a series of powerful shots before referee Josh Rosenthal stepped in to stop it at 3:17 of the second round of a bantamweight bout.
Tapia decked Foxworth with a crunching right about 20 seconds into the fight and spent the next two minutes ripping him with vicious forearms and elbows before Foxworth regained his feet.
Foxworth went back down seconds later from a left and again had to endure the ground-and-pound assault from Tapia until the round ended.
But all that did was prolong his pain. Tapia ended it at 3:17 of the second by catching Foxworth with a hard combination as they were backed against the cage.
Yves Lavigne jumped in to save Foxworth.
"I couldn't believe he was taking all those shots," Tapia said.
• Tom Speer said before his fight with Sidney Silva that it was a confidence builder knowing he could slam Silva at will.
He went out and did just that in the first round, powerslamming Silva and then ending the bout with a vicious ground and pound.
After the body slam, Speer pounced and ripped Silva with three successive thudding rights to the chin before referee Josh Rosenthal dove in to stop it at 4:33. Silva remained on the ground for nearly six minutes as doctors tended to him, but he left the ring on his feet.
"It took everything out of him and he was pretty much in trouble after that," Speer said.
• Marcus Hicks ended the first round of his lightweight fight with Sergio Gomez with a left eye that was little more than a slit and a lot of determination.
He knew he was in trouble if he didn't do something dramatic, and he pulled it off. He slapped a guillotine choke on Gomez as they were grappling on the mat and earned the submission at 3:20 of the second round.
Hicks was in control of the fight for the first part of the first round, twice coming close to slapping on fight-ending chokes. But Gomez turned the bout around with his standup game.
He blasted Hicks with a straight right that completely closed Hicks' eye and then landed six hard shots that rocked Hicks.
But Hicks managed to come on in the second round and sink in the guillotine to preserve his unbeaten record.
"The eye affected me quite a bit because I couldn't see," Hicks said. "It threw me off and I couldn't do what I wanted to do. It's never good when you can't see."
• Sherron Leggett could barely get up from the mat at the end of the first round of his lightweight fight with Charlie Kohler.
It wasn't because of anything Kohler did. Rather it was the result of his own efforts to put Kohler away and end the fight.
But he got his breath during the minute rest between rounds.
Kohler paid dearly for that. Leggett pounded away again until referee Yves Lavigne halted it at 2:25 of the second as Leggett was firing knees and elbows at a defenseless Kohler.
"I got a little angry when the adrenaline kicked in and I went after him with some knees, elbows, a little bit of everything," Leggett said.
Kohler nearly had a submission in the first, but Leggett reversed it and spent much of his time on top of Kohler punishing him. But as the clock wound down, Kohler looked like he wouldn't be able to go any more.
• Emotions were so high during a light heavyweight match between Ariel Gandulla and Gary Padilla that Padilla's girlfriend tried to get into the cage during the second round.
Gandulla went down from a knee to the groin thrown by Padilla, prompting Padilla's girlfriend to jump onto the apron to shout at the referee. But Gandulla survived the knee and Padilla, pulling out a split decision.
Judges Patricia Morse Jarman and Sal D'Amato gave Gandulla each of the last two rounds and a 29-28 victory. Judge Adalaide Byrd gave rounds one and two to Padilla and had him up 29-28.
The bout was a slugfest from start to finish, with the men trading hard blows.
Midway through the second, shortly after Padilla had knocked Gandulla down briefly with a kick, the men clinched and Padilla threw a knee.
It landed on the groin, sending Gandulla to the mat in pain. But he rallied and came back with a strong third round, which he won on all cards.
• Jason Miller walked to the ring wearing a suit, and the zany middleweight proved he was all business by outworking Hiromitsu Miura and winning a unanimous decision.
Miller spent the night on the attack and had a number of submission attempts that led him to a crowd-pleasing win. All three judges scored it 29-28, or two rounds to one, for Miller.
Miller nearly got a submission on a "banana split," in which he had Miura's legs going in opposite directions. Miller inadvertently kicked Miura in the groin early in the third round, but Miura got even near the end by kneeing Miller in the same spot late in their fight.
"I'm speaking kind of high from that right now," Miller said.
In addition to the low blow, Miller had to endure a few judo throws from Miura, but he managed to do enough to pull out the win.
"That was a tough Japanese man – wow!" Miller said. "I thought I was pretty close to getting that (submission) finished up, but he had the samurai spirit."
• Justin McElfresh had an eight-inch reach advantage over Doug Marshall, but that was the only edge he had.
Marshall systematically chopped down the 6-foot-6 McElfresh and stopped him at 2:16 of the first round to retain his WEC light heavyweight championship.
Marshall ended the fight by landing four overhand rights that caused McElfresh to collapse in a heap.
But the win was set up by a series of inside leg kicks that made it difficult for McElfresh to put any pressure on his front leg.
“We brought in some big sparring partners and worked a lot on that inside leg kick,” Marshall said of his game plan. Then, watching a replay of the knockout, he grinned and said, “We call that a K.D. – knocked dead.”
- Marcus Hicks