World Extreme Cage fighting has been around the mixed martial arts scene for the better part of the last decade. In 2006 Zuffa, the company that owns the UFC bought the WEC and have been using it to build up fighters who could eventually land in the UFC and more recently, to develop a strong crop of fighters in the lower weight classes which don’t exist in the UFC.
One of the little guys that have been with the WEC since Zuffa took over is the “California Kid” Urijah Faber. At his peak with the promotion, Faber was on a tear going 21-1 in the modified octagon and beating all comers at 145 pounds. Faber’s only loss to date was against current UFC light weight fighter Tyson Griffin and that was prior to his run in the WEC.
Faber had defended the featherweight title a total of six times. Combine Faber’s skills with the fact that he is a Sacramento native who pretty much sums up all that is California and it is easy for anyone to see why he became the face of the WEC.
Late in 2008, disaster struck for the California kid, he lost his belt in devastating fashion when the Portland, Maine native Mike Brown knocked Urijah out in the first round. Obviously all was not lost for Faber, he just had to get back on the horse, win a fight and get another title shot. Faber's next match up was a rematch against Jens Pulver, a guy Faber had already beaten and Faber beat him again in a few minutes.
The rematch against Mike Brown went the full five rounds and although Faber was on the losing end once again, he looked much better than the last time they fought. Faber put forth a valiant effort, using standing elbows as offense because he broke his right hand early on in the battle.
Due to the effort put forth by Faber, he kept himself at the top of the division, had he lost in devastating fashion to Mike Brown once again he’d probably have been a good three fights out of title contention.
Fast forward to today and Mike Brown is no longer the title holder at 145 pounds, a Brazilian by the name of Jose Aldo took the title from Brown with a technical knockout in the second round. Aldo’s martial arts background is strongly anchored by his black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. That being said, the young Brazilian has made a name for himself using his stand up, Aldo has six knockouts or technical knockouts in his last six fights.
Faber took care of business in his last fight against Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specialist Rafael Assuncao, submitting him via rear naked choke in round three.
Now we have Faber vs Aldo headlining the first ever pay per view event to be held by the WEC later on this evening, and why not? The event is being held in Sacramento, California, Faber’s hometown so the arena is going to be sold out. Secondly, There is a lot of intrigue in this event, Faber is trying to get his belt back against a guy who dispatched the last title holder with relative ease.
If pay per view is going to work for the WEC, there is no better event to test the waters with than the card scheduled for tonight. In addition to the main event, the WEC is putting on a lightweight title bout between Ben Henderson vs. Donald Cerrone in a rematch that is sure to produce fireworks.
In the first fight, Henderson vs. Cerrone was a hotly contested battle with no clear victor, Henderson won the fight on the scorecards, but it was a fight that had rematch spelled all over it.
To help anchor the two title fights, the WEC is putting on another great fight between former WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown and Ultimate Fighter cast member and former UFC lightweight Manvel Gamburyan.
Brown is a great wrestler with knockout power and being the cousin of Karo Parisyan everyone knows about Gamburyan’s tremendous Judo pedigree. This fight could be fight of the night if one of the title fights tonight don’t get that honor.
Regardless of whether the WEC should be delving into the pay per view realm of prize fighting, WEC 48: Aldo vs. Faber is a sink or swim situation for the promotion. Tonight will determine whether or not the WEC can swim with the big fish like boxing and the UFC.
There has been a lot of talk of late as to what is going to happen with the WEC in the coming future. Will the WEC hang around as a promotion for the smaller guys or will it be absorbed by its big sister the UFC? Nobody knows the answer for sure and tonight will most certainly help to answer that question.
Dana White who has taken over promotion duty for WEC 48 was recently asked about a possible absorption of the WEC into the UFC and he was pretty tight lipped on the idea and only gave some small bits on what fans can expect.
“The hardest part of all this is just figuring it out and believe it or not, I have a plan for this whole thing”
Dana went on to talk about television being completely through the Internet, that he has been taking MMA to another level with each passing year and that fans and media can expect a lot to come over the next three years in the sport. Obviously Dana isn’t sure what is going to happen with the WEC and his comments are definitely being made to peak some interest.
Maybe they are planning on airing WEC fight cards through the Internet at some point through a membership based website, who really knows. The bottom line is tonight’s WEC pay per view event is going to answer all the questions.
If WEC 48 pulls good numbers tonight, expect there to be more. Zuffa has made a lot of money with the UFC on pay per view in fact they turned the promotion from a money pit into a billion dollar business over the last 10 or so years.
Now, I’m no economist, but if Zuffa manages to have two promotions pulling big numbers on pay per view, it will increase their net worth and it will push the mixed martial arts scene even further ahead than it is now.
If the numbers aren’t very good or WEC 48 ends up a total flop on pay per view an absorption by the UFC is more than likely. The UFC already absorbed a lot of the fighters fighting in the now defunct welterweight and light heavyweight divisions of the WEC about two years back.
Absorbing the lighter weight divisions would give the smaller fighters a bigger stage to fight on and provide an opportunity for the smaller light weight fighters of the UFC to move down.
By absorbing the WEC the UFC would get an even bigger strangle hold on the other promotions that are out there. The UFC could be controlling the 125 pound to 265 pound divisions, which would give them the ability to put on more shows with more title fights than they are already putting on right now, which is exciting to say the least.
In any case, Zuffa obviously wants the WEC on pay per view to succeed and that is evidenced by the type of card they chose to put on for tonight, couple that with the Urijah Faber Amp Energy commercials all over the place and the WEC just might pull the numbers they are looking for. But, if the WEC doesn’t perform expect to hear some solid answers as to whether or not we will see the WEC divisions in the UFC .