If we want to pretend that the WEC and the UFC are two totally different entities (and let’s for the sake of argument) then I would say that the WEC blows their sister and every other MMA organization away when it comes to putting on exciting shows and leaving their fans satisfied and exhausted. WEC 51 was no exception as we got to see Jose Aldo, clearly a top 5 pound for pound fighter in the world, on free TV as he danced with Manny Gamburyan for a round before retiring him with the nastiest ground and pound you will likely ever see. . .and he did it while facing Gamburyan’s back.
There was a story that came out on the eve of the show that said that WEC had wanted to make the show a PPV but since Urijiah Faber pulled out and was now competing at WEC 52 they felt as though they had no choice but to give it away for free (harrumph!). I’m sure by now you’ve read how the show was awesome and gnarly and how much you should hate yourself if you missed it. . .I agree with all that, it’s a given. Here now are my other thoughts, important and otherwise, regarding Thursday night’s show.
– It’s impossible to quantify just how much oomph has been given to the shows since Bruce Buffer took over for the mysteriously released Joe Martinez. No disrespect to him, he was fine and all, but Buffer is the gold standard for ring announcing right now. And until the two finally merge (please, please, please) they need to take steps to ensure that their WEC roster doesn’t feel like a bunch of backup singers to the real deals. They One thing they could do is radically alter their TV announce team. I’m always all for a three man team but even if that is out of the question find Todd Harris somebody he can settle down with. This merry-go-round of Frank Mir, Kenny Florian and Stephan Bonnar is annoying and feels as though they are trying to sell me on their name as opposed to their ability to provide color commentary. Joe Rogan is widely accepted as awesome and he has no MMA experience. Bring a geeky professor type in with a love for the game and a knack for enthusiasm.
– I will admit to have taken some true joy in watching both Leonard Garcia and Chan Sung Jung fall after their war on the PPV prelim back in April. I have nothing against either fighter (in fact I quite like the Korean Zombie) but ever since their fight I’ve had this nagging sense that maybe (just maybe) all the post fight hype was created by Zuffa. It’s all worked out too perfectly for them, right as the WEC brand is attempting to go big time two smaller names throw down an instant classic and shoe in for fight of the year. It’s like Griffin/Bonnar all over again. Really? Well here are a few fights I think wipe the floor with that one, all from this year. . . Jamie Varner vs. Kamal Shalorus, Chael Sonnen vs. Nate Marquardt, Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva (and no, the drug test changes nothing). Hell the Jamie Varner vs. Donald Cerrone war from tonight was better than that one. . .
-Speaking of. . .I loved that fight. I think too often the boring voices of reason who speak for the children and implore us to have good sportsmanship overwhelm any opposing voices when it comes to athletics. But isn’t trash talk and healthy hatred all part of competing? And isn’t watching Varner and Cerrone truly try and inflict pain better than watching Frank Mir and Mirko Cro Cop play footsie for three rounds before a lucky knee is landed? That hatred had them making poor decisions that only made the fight more interesting for us. Why anybody wants to think of two opposing cage fighters as friends is beyond me. If you’re friends with the guy you shouldn’t fight him (see: Koscheck/Fitch) and if you’re fighting him you shouldn’t be out there giggling it up between rounds. Sorry if that is not PC enough.
– I know that us here in the states have plenty of MMA to watch, free or otherwise, and that I have nothing to complain about. But still, would it be asking too much to add another hour or so to these WEC shows. The prelims to this show had Mike Brown, the man who lost the featherweight title to the almighty Jose Aldo less than a year ago, and Zhang Tie Quan, the first ever Chinese national to fight on a Zuffa promoted card. Of course that latter one eventually found its way onto the televised portion of the show but I feel like the more fights/fighters these organizations can promote the more likely they’ll be to grow their product.
-And as far as the Zhang Tie Quan fight goes, and seriously I am not that upset by it, but did you feel at all as though maybe they threw him a gimmie considering who he is and what he represents to Chinese MMA. I just think the WEC would have a lot more to gain by him being victorious than they would by him losing. They put Ultimate Fighter 12 reject Pablo Garza against him and at no point did I feel as though he was in any danger. It was like the time Strikeforce needed a substandard opponent and fast for Bobby Lashley so they scraped Wes Sims off the bottom of the barrel and had him go get bitch slapped. Todd Harris tried to sell me on the idea of him being armbared but it didn’t look very serious to me and Quan had no trouble finishing Garza with a guillotine after less than half a round. Here’s hoping he makes something of a run because he represents something new, exciting and different in the sport.
-And finally, I know Gamburyan looks like a chump now because it only took Aldo a round to expose his weaknesses but I will say that watching that opening round I actually believed he could compete. Aldo certainly didn’t look in control, he looked smaller, apprehensive and kept getting backed into corners. Plus in the opening minutes Aldo’s head movement was nonexistent and I was just waiting for Gamburyan to just find the target and knock him out thus shocking the world. Hey, we’d already see a Korean Zombie KTFO’d. . .why not the greatest Featherweight who has ever lived as well?
Tags: chan sung jung, Donald Cerrone, Jamie Varner, Jose Aldo, Leonard Garcia, Manny Gamburyan, miguel torres, Mixed Martial Arts, the korean zombie, WEC 51