Well that's a wrap on the WEC first foray into the land of PPV, and before anyone sees the buy rates it has to be viewed as a success by all accounts.
Zuffa certainly left no stone unturned in ensuring that the WEC debut PPV event would be a success. Reed Harris and the WEC match makers built a stacked card with two title fights and the biggest names in the younger sibling promotion of the UFC on the card in Sacremento.
Dana White was drafted in to hype the event and the card was given the full UFC style treatment from the production side of things. Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg were brought in for commentary and there was certainly a distinct lack of WEC branding to the event, which will definitely be an interesting sub plot to follow in the development of the promotion.
Are the Zuffa big wigs setting the ball rolling for a merger? Anyone think so? Dana White was quoted as saying he has "big plans for the WEC in the next three years" wait and see on that one I guess.
With Zuffa and the UFC production talent doing their job, it was left to the fighters to deliver in the cage at the Arco Arena—and the main card fights certainly did.
In the main event Jose Aldo underlined his claim to the P4P crown as he delivered a clinical performance dismantling the hometown favorite Urijah Faber. Brutal leg kicks were his key to victory and Aldo who showed great maturity during the fight looks set for a huge future in MMA. At such a young age, the Nova Unaio product is most definitely the new face of the WEC and arguably the best featherweight ever.
Aldo's next fight could very well be against a big winner of a featured fight on tonight's card, Manny Gamburyan. "The Anvil" pulled the upset as he stopped the former champion Mike Thomas Brown in the first round of their fight.
The former Ultimate Fighter finalist exchanged low kicks and punches with Brown in the early going but landed a sweet right hook that dropped the American Top Team stand out. He followed Brown to the mat and delivered hammer fists until the referee's stoppage came mid-way through in the first round.
A huge win for Gamburyan has surely put him in the title mix at 145 lbs. A title fight with Aldo would be any easy sell with his UFC name value and the fact that he also appeared on tonight's card along side the Champion.
The co-main event and other title fight on tonight's card featured not so much an upset, but certainly a surprising conclusion. Ben Henderson and Donald Cerrone last met in what was arguably the fight of 2009 and a five round back and forth war.
Tonight was a completely different story as Ben Henderson announced himself well and truly as the top dog in the WEC's Lightweight division and added his name to the conversation for best in the world at 155 lbs. Henderson made short work of the "Cowboy" Donald Cerrone, delivering nasty knees in an early clinch against the cage, before taking him to floor and eventually sinking in the guillotine at the 1:57 mark.
In other featured action, Shane Roller was impressive as he dispatched Anthony Njokuani with ease. He controlled the fight from start to finish, patiently working for a rear naked choke after the fight had hit the floor, eventually sinking 3:07 into round one. Also, Scott Jorgensen battled early adversity to earn a unanimous decision win over Antonio Banuelos.
All in all a great night of action from the promotion that continuously punches well above its weight in terms of entertaining fights. The future of the WEC was always safe being under the Zuffa umbrella but its first foray onto PPV could mean a far brighter future for its fighters.
- A new P4P king was crowned in Jose Aldo.
- Henderson should now be mixing with the best at 155 lbs, bar a rematch with Jamie Varner—should he be looking at the UFC division?
- Gamburyan is finally delivering on the promise shown on TUF, a future title shot looks likely.
- Where now for Mike Brown? He looks a long way from the dominating champion he was two fights ago!
Hope you all enjoyed the WEC as much as I did, love to hear your thoughts.