EDMONTON - The stakes were high when Jamie Varner and Kamal Shalorus faced each other at WEC 49 at Rexall Place Sunday, but neither combatant got the outcome they were looking for in a showdown marked by low blows and broken bones.
With a No. 1 ranking and a title shot against World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight champion Ben Henderson on the line, Varner, the former 155-pound champion, and Shalorus, looking for his first crack at a title, battled to a foul-filled, three-round draw that settled nothing.
Varner, 25, who lost his WEC title to Henderson last January in California, thought he'd overcame a broken right hand and three Shalorus kicks to the groin to win a decision, but the judges saw it otherwise.
Judge Cameron Quewek scored it 29-27 for Shalorus. Doc Hamilton had it 29-27 for Varner. Cecil Peoples had it 28-28, drawing a chorus of boos from fans and protests from Varner, now 16-3-1.
"I definitely felt I did enough to win the fight," Varner said. "I landed the better strikes. I felt like I was more active.
"He was walking me down, but that's who he is. He's like the Terminator. I had to pick my shots, and that's how I was able to wobble him."
Shalorus, 37, who came in with a 6-0-1 record, twice dropped Varner with kicks to the groin early in the second round. He was penalized a point by referee Josh Rosenthal the second time it happened.
That seemed to spark Varner, who pressed the pace late in the round and early in the third until Shalorus dropped him a third time, this time with a left kick that was clearly low but wasn't penalized.
"I thought I won the fight without any of the low blows," Varner said. "The first round, I won. I had him doing the chicken dance. I felt I won the first round and the second round. I lost the third round. He's a tough dude."
Varner says he broke his hand in the second round. Shalorus, meanwhile, appeared for the post-fight news conference late after meeting with doctors with an ankle and a thumb in splints.
"He likes to duck his head a lot," Varner said. "I knew that coming into the fight. I was going to set up the right hand and start going with knees, but I was having so much success with my punches I was hoping one would put him out, but I caught the top of his forehead."
In the undercard, Mark (The Machine) Hominick used a barrage of punches to defeat fellow Canadian featherweight Yves (Tiger) Jabouin in the second round.
The anticipated showdown between the hard-hitting 145-pounders proved to be worth the wait.
Having excelled in rival promotions for the better part of eight years, the two fighters finally let their fists and feet do the talking as Hominick capped a furious display, one in which both fighters went down, by stopping Jabouin at 3:21 of the second round.
Hominick, 27, of Thamesford, Ont., got off the canvas after being put on his back by a Jabouin combination, straddled the 31-year-old from Montreal and threw left and right hands until referee Vern Gorman stopped it.
The win improves Hominick to 18-8, while the Jabouin saw his record fall to 14-6.
Chris (The Polish Hammer) Horodecki of London, Ont. was supposed to face veteran Ed Ratcliff, but found himself in with unbeaten Danny Downes (6-0) of Chicago after Ratcliff pulled out.
Make that the previously unbeaten Downes, as the 22-year-old Horodecki stopped him by submission (choke hold) 1:09 into the third round of their lightweight bout to improve to 14-2.
Rising featherweight star Josh Grispi ran his record to 14-1 as the 21-year-old from Boston stopped L.C. Davis of Kansas City by guillotine choke at 2:33 of the first round.
Former WEC bantamweight champion Eddie Wineland of Houston improved to 17-6-1, dropping Will Campuzano twice in the first round before stopping him by technical knockout 4:44 into the second round.
In bouts not televised:
-- Featherweight Will Kerr of Connecticut stopped Karen Darabedyan of Armenia, improving to 9-2 via submission 1:20 into the first round.
-- At bantamweight, Brazilian Wagnney Fabiano improved to 14-2 by unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, over Frank Gomez of Las Vegas.
-- Featherweight Erik Koch of Iowa upped his record to 10-1, stopping Bendy Casamir by triangle-choke at 3:01 of the first round.
-- Diego Nunes won a battle of Brazilian featherweights, improving to 14-1 with a split decision, 30-27, 28-29, 29-28, over Raphael Assuncao.
-- At bantamweight, Renan Barao of Brazil improved to 21-1 via submission over New York's Anthony Leone at 2:29 of the third round, while Chris Cariaso of San Jose went to 10-1 with a unanimous decision over Rafael Rebello of Brazil.