Last Thursday night, the WEC put on an event to remember for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the main event. Now that we’ve spoken at length about the acrobatics of Anthony Pettis, let’s discuss some other aspects of World Extreme Cagefighting’s last show.
Henderson has nothing to be ashamed of
Ben Henderson was justifiably disappointed after losing his WEC lightweight title to Anthony Pettis in a close fight that many, including myself, had tied at two rounds apiece until the final round. However, there’s no reason for him to feel too bad about what was a very good performance against a young fighter who, like Henderson, doesn’t have a clear ceiling for what he can accomplish.
If you were determined to view Pettis as some kind of flashy upstart who shouldn’t have had a chance against Henderson, it would be one thing. But what we saw in the main event had more to do with how great Pettis is than any real deficiency on the part of Henderson. If anything, I was impressed with how Henderson was able to hold his own in the standup portion of the bout.
Henderson should have a good future in the UFC. I don’t regret having ranked him as a top ten fighter, as I still think he’s of that caliber. Many may assume that the loss showed that there weren’t any top ten lightweights in the WEC, I would tend to think that it means there were actually two of them.
And as far as being on the receiving end of that kick? How can you blame anyone for not seeing that coming?
Cerrone should get his wish
Following his win over Chris Horodecki, Donald Cerrone called out Cole Miller, who not only has a win over one of Cerrone’s training partners, but also would present a great style matchup with Cerrone. Here’s hoping that the UFC allows that fight to happen, as it would not only make for a great fight for the fans, but would also allow Cerrone and Miller to show off their skills and give us an idea of which of them belongs near the top of the division.
I know Miller was hoping to move towards title contention, but I don’t see a fight with Cerrone as being a step backward. Cerrone, Henderson and (of course) Pettis should all be brought in with the assumption that they belong in the upper portion of the lightweight division, at least until otherwise is proven. I also like the idea of Cerrone getting a fight under his belt in the UFC before facing one of the division’s many strong wrestlers.
Cruz makes a fitting UFC champ
There is little to consider when it comes to the bantamweights and featherweights moving to the Octagon, as they will essentially be the same divisions, only fighters will face one another in a different cage.
Having said that, there is still the appeal of seeing the mainstream MMA fan’s reactions to some of the fighters that he or she may not have seen before. I’m always shocked by the number of people who were never inclined to check out the WEC’s offerings, particularly since the quality of the fights alone often surpassed that of what we saw during UFC pay-per-views.
However, if a UFC champ is supposed to be someone that has definitively earned the top spot in their division not only in the Octagon, but worldwide, Cruz fits the bill. Like it or not, his style is absolutely puzzling for opponents, and great defensive wrestling along with a stubbornness to stick to fighting his fight will take him a long way. Until someone finally decides to pressure, pressure, pressure him regardless of the cost, he’s going to keep picking challengers apart.
–I’m not sure what it is with elite wrestlers wanting to become Chuck Liddell overnight, but Kamal Shalorus allowed Bart Palaszewski back into a fight that wasn’t even close in the first round because he decided not to be a wrestler any longer. I understand the appeal of going for a highlight-reel KO, but the object of the sport is to win, and Shalorus almost didn’t do that because he again abandoned his wrestling base after a successful round of using it. It’s puzzling.
–Scott Jorgensen likely learned a valuable lesson in his title shot against Cruz: dance with the one who brought you. In other words, if you got to challenge for the title based upon fighting an aggressive style, don’t abandon that simply because of the mystique that the champion currently has. We saw Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva in the past have the same effect on opponents: they’d get in there with these two and not even look like themselves, because they had undoubtedly overanalyzed the tapes, overthought the fight, and forgotten what they did to get to that point in the first place. Jorgensen was often trying to pick his spots, but instead of creating those opportunities, he was waiting for them to happen, which is a tough position to be in against Cruz.