WEC 44 will go down at the Palms tomorrow featuring the best main event left in the 2009 calender year. And considering there's still a number of UFC events, as well as two end-of-year Japanese cards, that's pretty impressive.
Mike Brown vs. Jose Aldo is a matchup that pits two fighters with similar strengths and weaknesses. It's a battle of technique versus explosiveness in what should make for an exciting battle of striking prowess.
For that reason alone, you should seek out WEC 44, either via online stream or Versus HD, at 9 p.m. on Wednesday.
The other compelling reason to watch this main event is the fallout that will arise from it.
Let's make one thing crystal clear: As big as those two fights with Urijah Faber were, this fight is the one that will cement Mike Brown as a deserving and dominant champion.
Things always change the moment you go from the hunter to the hunted. While Faber was chasing the belt in the rematch, many looked at that fight as redemption for Faber despite the fact Brown beat him and has the belt.
It gave him cover, as Faber was still the man, and he was still trying to be the man.
Now, however, is Brown's first fight as the undisputed champion. A win tomorrow could vault him into the pound-for-pound top 10 and set up a third fight with Faber.
For Jose Aldo, his meteoric rise continues. And people will quickly give him the mantle Miguel Angel Torres had, just a few months ago. As the games most dominant little guy.
Now that the battle lines have been drawn and the meaning of victory has been set, let's break the fight down.
Since his ill-fated UFC lightweight run, Brown has made his biggest improvement in the striking department. What once was a typical right hand is now a careening missile that knocks people out.
While a lot of this is added commitment to his strength and conditioning, coupled with fighting at the correct division, his footwork hasn't gotten that much better; he's very stoic and stiff-legged, preferring his opponent to come to him. His lateral movement is slow and agonizing to watch, and it could lead to problems in such a close, striking matchup.
His defensive guard while striking is flawed, coupled with his stiff-legged footwork it leaves him open to being hit by a lot of strikers the featherweight division has to offer. However, his chin is well tested, and he has never been finished by way of strikes at any point in his career—despite being somewhat easy to hit, he's not a guy susceptible to the flash knockout.
Even when he's losing exchanges, he feels comfortable because he knows one right hand can be all she wrote.
While he's a good wrestler and a solid BJJ fighter, his mind seems to wonder, and he's one to lose focus on the defensive end.
In Brown vs. Faber 2, he was locked in a deep north/south choke that should have ended the fight; however, both of Faber's hands were broken and thus the hold was too painful to maintain. This has cropped up a lot over the years, and it's the most likely way we see Brown's reign end.
He's been under the lights before, whereas Aldo has never been in a main event atmosphere. He's also repping my home state, so I have to give some love for that. Nothing else leaps out at me.
About as exciting a striker as there is in the sport, Jose Aldo has more effective ways to hit people than the mob. His footwork is solid and his athleticism and killer instinct are unlike anything I've ever seen from someone so young...he's unquestionably the best athlete in the 145-pound class.
What's worse is that he has flash KO power in all four of his limbs. The end can come for anywhere, at anytime, and from any position.
From a defensive point of view, he's sloppy. You can beat him if you can keep him on the back foot. The problem is he's so quick, you're going to need a motor that doesn't quit, a ton of lateral quickness, and the hardest chin known to man. And I don't see Clay Guida dropping down to 145. So he's pretty much golden for right now.
Much like Brown, the Nova Uniao black belt is a good grappler with a killer flaw—he's also prone to fall asleep on his defensive end, and he's been caught by lesser fighters in the past. This is his—like Brown's—Achilles' heel, and with his questionable takedown defense, it's a bad combination.
He's still relatively green. He possesses the best scar in MMA. His chin has really never been tested to date in a situation I know of.
As much as I want to rep my boy, I think he's going to have real problems getting the takedowns he'll need to curry judges favor. If he can't get it in at least three of five he'll get picked apart in what will inevitably be a highly-entertaining fight.
That being said, this is one of those fights you don't pick. You watch and enjoy, because the outcome could be just about anything. I honestly believe if you simmed this fight 100 times you'd get 100 different results.
It's really "bust out the coin and flip it" time.
Jose Aldo defeats Mike Thomas Brown via unanimous decision (48-47 all cards).