The WEC’s first pay-per-view is in the books, or is it? The strangely-unbranded show featuring two title fights and a night of great action seems to have been a success, according to the rumors about early buyrate information. The action in the cage was certainly pleasing to MMA fans, and now, in the words of one Bruce Buffer, “it’s time!” To what? Well, to do my parting shots for WEC 48, of course! I could easily steal Mike Goldberg’s “here we go!” to transition to the start of the article, but that is something that a lesser columnist would do. I shall not stoop to such levels, my friends.
Aldo and Faber Go to Extremes
It’s hard to remember another recent fight that was so lopsided between two top guys within a weightclass. Depending on your ranking of Faber, we had two of the top three or four featherweight fighters in the world in the cage together Saturday night, and one had almost no success.
On one hand, it shocks me that in a sport so complex, which has evolved now for almost twenty years, a championship-caliber fighter can beat one of his counterparts using a strategy as rudimentary as working leg kicks throughout the bout. Still, it is obviously not an easy thing to stop, particularly when an athlete on the level of Aldo is winging them at you. Faber even admitted to having trained to check the kicks and work around them, yet none of that preparation showed on Saturday night.
The thing is, Aldo’s style is perfectly complimented by the strategy. For the first round or two, when Faber was fresh enough to rush forward, he still avoided doing so for the most part, probably because he was worried about eating counter punches or a counter knee during a takedown attempt. Instead, he chilled out in range of Aldo’s kicks and ended up paying the price. By the time he realized that he had to go for broke or get out of range, it was too late because he had no leg to plant on or shoot for the takedown with.
We didn’t learn much about Faber- we already knew he had a gigantic heart from his second fight with Mike Brown- but we saw a new side of Aldo: the tactician. The idea that this guy can erase you within a moment’s notice or just calmly and methodically break you down over 25 minutes should be a very scary thing to every featherweight in the world.
Where Do Former Champs Go?
It’s remarkable. Mike Brown, ranked number one in his weight class not long ago, lost his second fight in three bouts after being on the wrong side of a TKO from the explosive Manny Gamburyan on Saturday night. He joins Faber (lost three of his last five) and Miguel Torres (two losses in a row) as former WEC figureheads that have had a rough go of it lately. It just goes to show how difficult it is to stay on top in a promotion as ridiculously competitive as the WEC is right now.
Brown and Faber will most likely work their respective ways back up the ladder without fighting one another. The WEC certainly can’t afford to have one of those guys take another loss so soon, after all, and Brown has won both matchups so far, leaving little reason for a rematch at this point in time.
As for any worries about Brown being washed up, I will gladly dismiss those mutterings with a wave of my hand. Brown simply committed the very minor crime of being knocked out by someone with powerful punching. In MMA, very few get through their careers without ever being found guilty of that offense. Did the loss once again prove to us that Brown is human? Yes, but it didn’t show much more. I think Brown would beat Gamburyan more times than not, in fact, though I don’t want to take away such a great accomplishment from the man who is likely to be Aldo’s next challenger.
Fight of the Year?
There has been a lot of talk about the fight between Leonard Garcia and the debuting Chan Sung Jung. Jung, who is awesomely nicknamed “The Korean Zombie”, slugged it out for three action-packed rounds with Garcia in a fight that was televised on Spike TV as one of the preliminary bouts aired before the pay-per-view went live. The effect may have been similar to that of Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar in the first TUF finale, though on a smaller scale. Still, it’s possible that the ridiculous awesomeness of this fight led many to order a pay-per-view featuring fighters that they weren’t all that familiar with and maybe had not previously been interesting in seeing.
As for the fight itself, every MMA columnist out there has gone on record with their opinions that while this was great entertaining, it was not the most technically brilliant display. To that I say, “well, duh!” This was not about technical proficiency. In fact, it was actually kind of refreshing seeing that even with professional MMA fighters, all technique can just go out the window in a truly passionate slugfest. And I say, “why not?” I see it as the equivalent of seeing people horse around on the mats after jiu-jitsu class. These guys trained their asses off, if they want to have the times of their respective lives by just swinging away on one another for fifteen minutes, good for them!
There’s no need to show that you are a serious MMA journalist by poo-pooing the technical aspects of the fight, particularly when even Grandpa Bob who was watching his first MMA event could see that these guys weren’t using refined techniques. And to follow it up with the all-too-predictable, “but I loved every minute of it” is just as phony. It was an awesome fight that reminded even the jaded among us why we watch this sport…jabs, footwork and head movement be damned!
Someone Forgot the Logo!
In a world where every single item we see on television, particularly during a sporting event, is branded with some logo or another, it was very strange seeing all the empty space on the production graphics, as well as the absence of WEC logos on fighter’s gloves, the announcer’s microphones, the cage itself, and everywhere else one can imagine. I was kind of surprised that they didn’t duct tape over the WEC logo on the belts, to be honest.
The official company line from Dana White lacked any real detail, but alluded to TV deals and restrictions because neither the preliminary bouts nor main card were taking place on Versus, whom the WEC has a television deal with. My personal opinion is that we won’t just be seeing the lightweight class merge with the UFC in the future, but the lighter weights, as well. I think that White and the rest learned a valuable lesson in late 2009 and early 2010 when it seemed that every marketable main event fighter that the UFC had was injured. More depth is always good, and with champions going four to six months now between title defenses, having more titles to put on pay-per-view is always a good thing, too.
I hope that it does happen, honestly. It would be great to see the top-notch talent in the WEC get the respect and monetary compensation of their bigger UFC brothers. Here’s hoping that it all goes down at some point in the not-too-distant future.