Simply put: worth every cent. Last night’s WEC 48: Aldo vs. Faber marked a historical change of direction for the Zuffa company, traditionally shown on Versus for no additional charge, broke into the Pay-Per-View foray displaying precise reasons why these lighter fighters deserve larger bankrolls.
I can’t remember the last time I saw Anderson Silva finish an 185lbs opponent or a boring WEC event. These things scarcely happen; an uneventfully dull showing from the WEC is a rarity that any mixed martial arts fan can appreciate.
The night was littered with highly energetic fighters gunning for the finish, conclusive endings that were seen during more than half of the fights on the card.
Even for the bouts that went to decision, the action was nonstop with each competitor doing their utmost to put away their opponent.
This is the kind of production value we are used to seeing from the UFC’s “little brother” organization, a home for lighter weighted athletes to showcase their technique and passion.
Frankly, it was a breath of fresh air after sitting through Strikeforce’s fiasco last weekend and the aggravating finale to UFC 112 the previous weekend.
In spite of the “big boys” having less than desirable results from the last two weekends, WEC 48 delivered with highlight finishes, slugfests circa Griffin vs. Bonnar, two contenders emerging victorious, the lightweight champion lassoing a cowboy with his arms, and a sneak peek into the soap opera surrounding the future employer of a pound-for-pound great from another organization.
The night was such a success; it will be seen as the catalyst to future WEC Pay-Per-Views down the road. In attendance were 14,144 at ARCO Arena for a $1 million gate, the WEC’s largest gate and attendance thus far.
Overall, it was a great night of fights, the most satisfying $44.95 I’ve spent all weekend. Oh wait, it’ll end up being closer to $55, without HD, due to “taxes and fees” waiting for me on my next cable bill.
Chicago, I love you, but screw your “amusement tax” and Comcast, I’ll make up for those ridiculous fees you charge me in torrents, thanks to your blazing fast Internet.
…Thank you WEC, for making it all worth it!
Scott Jorgensen, 27, (10-3) - four fight win-streak
This was one of two highly anticipated rematches of the night, the other being Henderson vs. Cerrone. Both match-ups were revered as candidates for “Fight of the Year” from 2009, with all four men fighting tooth and nail, last year and last night.
Jorgensen had a slow start in the first, getting clocked a fistful of times by Banuelos’ left hook, one buckling him to the mat. Once the second round began, Jorgensen’s race-stripe mohawk started glowing bright red, the color of danger and emergency.
Maybe had Banuelos dyed his Iceman-esque moustache, the outcome would have been different?
After the first, Jorgensen never looked back. The rest of fight was dominated by Jorgensen’s combinations, intensity, and smothering ground work.
Banuelos got peppered by some stiff jabs and then dropped by a couple of straight rights. From the mat, Jorgensen was all over Banuelos, taking his back and unloading punches, searching for the submission.
Verdict: Jorgensen looked improved and crisp avenging his loss to Banuelos, adding another victory to the three fight win-streak he was riding in on before the fight.
Understandably, this fight was essentially for the No. 1 contender spot in the division. Let’s give him bantamweight champion Dominic Cruz.
Shane Roller, 30, (8-2) - three fight win-streak
Is it safe to say that Shane Roller steamrolled over Anthony Njokuani? I think so. The Nigerian-born kickboxer got the opportunity to participate in a hands-on takedown clinic courtesy of Prof. Roller.
It has become increasingly clear, especially in the last couple of weeks, that proficient strikers without any kind of sprawl have no choice but to sink when facing good wrestlers.
We saw clear examples of this reality at UFC 111 with St-Pierre vs. Hardy, Lawal vs. Mousasi on CBS, and now with Njokuani at WEC 48.
Roller shot in for the takedown at the opening bell with relative ease. Once on the mat, he transitioned to the mount convincing Njokuani to give up his back.
Roller then wrapped Njokunai’s torso with a body triangle and proceeded to sink in the rear naked choke at around the three minute mark of the first round.
Verdict: This submission victory is Roller’s second consecutive rear naked choke win in the last six months. Somebody has been working on his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Roller’s only two losses have come at the hands of the current lightweight champ, Ben Henderson, and dropping his debut fight to a local Oklahoma fighter. Let’s give him Bart Palaszewski or the winner of Varner vs. Shalorus.
Manny Gamburyan, 28, (11-4) - three fight win-streak
There wasn’t too much analytical content during this two and half minute contest. Former featherweight titleholder, Mike Brown, stalked Gamburyan until he found himself on the wrong end of an exchange.
Despite eating a right from Brown during this flurry, the Armenian stood firm and landed a more devastating right that knocked Brown down to the mat.
We all know the rest of this classic fight sequence: Brown forgot to pay his electricity bill on the way down to the mat, Gamburyan swarmed, dropping payloads until the referee proceeded to end the contest.
Brown then wakes up infuriated because the last thing he remembers is punching his opponent.
It is worth noting that Brown stepped into the cage with some personal issues weighing heavily on his shoulders. With that said, Gamburyan decisively won this contendership bout, regardless of Brown’s problems, and will be moving up the ladder.
Verdict: When the Armenian is pitching his case for a title shot, maybe he should refrain from using the term genocide. Let’s not forget why people tend to cringe at the word and the unfortunate historical consequences mankind has endured since his inception. I don’t think we are going to see it as an ironic catchphrase on a Threadless t-shirt anytime soon. Let’s give him what he wants: featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo.
Ben Henderson, 26, (12-1) - 11 fight win-streak
The awaited sequel to 2009’s “Fight of the Year” falls short of repeating the war from the first time around. Nevertheless, it was a quick and decisive win for Henderson, who defended his crown for the first time, officially sporting the title of champion.
Cerrone threw a leg kick; Henderson shot in and failed to take the Cowboy down. Once they got in the clinch off the cage, Henderon threw some knees to the body and eventually took Cerrone down to the mat. Cerrone scrambled off his back, but gave it up in the process.
From there, Henderson smoothly sunk in his now infamous guillotine at the two-minute mark of the first round. It was far cry from the drag-out five round barnburner they had last year, but a finish is a finish.
The second loss to Henderson and a third overall failed attempted at getting a belt, puts the decorated lightweight in a difficult spot.
For a fighter who has won multiple “Fight of the Night” honors, Cerrone has lost his last three out of five and has fallen victim to the second-seed glass-ceiling conundrum, i.e., the Florian Complex.
Verdict: Henderson is hitting his stride nicely, having soundly defeated the top three 155 pounders on the roster at such a young age.
Assuming Varner puts Shalorus away in June, we will probably see the former lightweight champion get his rematch with Henderson. Let’s give Henderson the winner of Varner vs. Shalorus.
Jose Aldo, 23, (17-1) - 10 fight win-streak
Joe-say Rogan knows his Portuguese.
After the fight, you’re left wondering if Faber will be able to operate the pedals of that shiny new Mercedes Benz he received on the Countdown as a sponsor gift.
Aldo literally chopped down the legendary featherweight with homerun leg kicks that buckled the California Kid numerous times throughout the fight.
We didn’t see the overly-aggressive Aldo from past bouts; he was patient and precise with his strikes.
What made them so damaging was the velocity behind his kicks and punches. Faber might have been better off absorbing Louisville Slugger swings from Albert Pujols for five rounds.
The damage was visible every time he lifted his shorts too—with all the swelling, the outer side of Faber’s left leg looked like Quasimodo’s face after 12 rounds with Tyson. Yeah, it was that bad. The California Kid will be hanging loose for the next couple of weeks in a sit-down position.
He had no answer for the leg kicks in the beginning, and by the time the third round rolled in, Faber lacked any mobility to remedy the problem. Shooting in on a fighter as quick as Aldo on essentially one leg is not going to render successful results.
Despite being so far ahead on the scorecards, Aldo never really elevated the pressure—he never deviated from his game plan either. This makes enough sense to a degree, but how dangerous was Faber really in the last couple of rounds?
There seems to be a certain complexity being exposed each time a Brazilian champion defends his belt.
The Silvas, Machidas, and now Aldos, all seem content with coasting out victories when they have their opponents on life-support. Nevertheless, Aldo remains a force to be reckoned with in the featherweight division.
For being only 23, this kid has the potential to compete in different weight classes, win multiple belts, and remain on the pound-for-pound list for a long time.
It will be a long time before Ed Soares goes hungry.
Verdict: Are we witnessing another Brazilian champ that will have competition problems in the future? Let’s give him Manny Gamburyan. After that fight, the WEC should give serious consideration to letting Aldo move around the different divisions.
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