Jamie Varner file photo | Sherdog.com

Former lightweight champion Jamie Varner continued his slide, as the Arizona Combat Sports product was choked out by Shane Roller in the first round of their lightweight tilt at WEC 53 “Henderson vs. Pettis” on Thursday at the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz.

After the two men exchanged jabs to start the fight, Varner threw a high kick and a left hook to his foe’s head. While kick was defended, the punch was not, and Roller’s knees buckled. Still aware of his surroundings, Roller shot a takedown. The Oklahoman took Varner’s back during a scramble, but the one-time titleholder defended well and stood.

However, in a maneuver that ultimately became his undoing, Varner tried to slam Roller. This only allowed the Team Takedown representative to cinch the rear-naked choke, forcing Varner to tap out at 3:55 of the first round. Varner is 0-3-1 in his last four fights.

Roufusport product Daniel Downes spoiled the sophomore effort of Chinese import Tie Quan Zhang, earning a unanimous decision in a lightweight dark match.

In the first round, “The Mongolian Wolf” took the bout to the floor, passing to side control and locking up a straight armbar with his legs. Though Downes yelped in pain, he maneuvered away from the pressure and survived the submission attempt. Zhang then took the American’s back during a scramble and nearly locked up a rear-naked choke. The game Downes again escaped, rolling into his foe’s guard before standing. From there, it was Downes who scored a takedown, but he was again nearly submitted by a Zhang arm bar as the round ended.

Downes fired back in the second round, passing Zhang’s guard and securing back control. Downes locked up a body triangle and attempted a rear-naked choke of his own. Though the Chinese fighter recovered guard, he appeared exhausted, eating an elbow to end the frame. Round three also belonged to Downes, as “Danny Boy” again secured Zhang’s back and looked for the submission.

All three judges scored the bout for Downes, 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27, as he handed Zhang his first professional defeat.

File Photo

Pickett took a close decision win.

In an early favorite for “Fight of the Night,” American Top Team’s Brad Pickett took a hard-fought unanimous decision over veteran Ivan Menjivar. All three judges scored it 29-28 for Pickett, who has posted 10 wins in 11 appearances.

In the first round, Pickett took the fight to the floor after a Menjivar right cross hit nothing but air. However, the experienced Canadian found a way back to his feet. After trading on the feet, the Brit cut Menjivar before scoring another takedown to end the frame. Round two began with an errant kick to the Menjivar’s groin. After recovering from the shot, the Tristar Gym product fired back standing, as he landed a flurry of punches that put the Englishman on the run. Pickett survived, though, shooting another takedown and attempting to take Menjivar’s back.

The third period brought more action standing but little resolution. As the decision was announced in Pickett’s favor, the crowd was ambivalent toward the ruling.

A grim scene unfolded on the undercard, as former bantamweight king Eddie Wineland knocked out Ken Stone with a violent slam at 2:11 of the first round.

After Stone landed two nice inside leg kicks followed by a spinning back fist, the one-time champion instigated a clinch. Stone pulled guard, looking for a guillotine. It was not to be, however, as Wineland walked his foe to the fence and placed his hands on Stone’s chest. In one swift motion, Wineland slammed Stone to the mat, rendering him unconscious. After several tense minutes, Stone, now awake, was wheeled out on a stretcher.

Team Alpha Male representative Danny Castillo ended Will Kerr’s night early, knocking his fellow lightweight unconscious less than 90 seconds into their bout.

Kerr tried to open the match with a bang, missing with a flying knee. Castillo then scored a takedown but left his neck exposed. Kerr seized the opportunity, trying to apply a guillotine choke. “Last Call” fought off the choke, but Kerr then transitioned to an armbar attempt followed by a try at a leg lock.

Battling to his feet to fight off the hold, Castillo proceeded to drop three heavy rights on his opponent. Kerr lost his bid for a submission and his consciousness at 1:25 of the first frame.

In a preliminary lightweight duel, Yuri Alcantara scored a vicious knockout victory over Ricardo Lamas 3:26 into round one.

Both men worked from their feet from the start, with Lamas pressing the fight into the clinch. Alcantara stalked forward for the duration of the bout and finally found his payoff, landing a huge overhand left to his opponent’s jaw. The Brazilian followed up with several unneeded shots on the ground, as his adversary was already unconscious. In fact, Alcantara actually walked away from his fallen foe before referee Ron Nation stepped in to stop the contest.

The 30-year-old Alcantara has rattled off 11 straight wins, 10 of them finishes.

In the show’s opening bout, Renan do Nascimento Mota Pegado submitted Chris Cariaso with a rear-naked choke at 3:37 of the first round.

After some early back-and-forth stand-up action, Cariaso slipped while throwing a body kick and “Barao” followed him to the mat. The Nova União product worked from Cariaso’s guard, passing to side control before taking the American’s back during a scramble. From there, it was elementary, as the Brazilian cinched the choke and forced the tapout.

Barao has won 15 consecutive bouts since his December 2007 encounter with Claudemir Souza ended in a no contest.

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