Last night's WEC 36 event was newsworthy for several reasons, the most important being Mike Brown's stunning first round knockout of top pound for pound fighter and WEC Featherweight champion Urijah Faber. Here's a quick rundown of some post-show press conference notes, as well as some Inside Fights-exclusive news from the fallout.
- Paulo Filho was once considered one of the top middleweights in the world and the certain heir to Anderson Silva's middleweight crown in the UFC. Over the past year, however, Filho has fallen on hard times, beginning with his battles with depression in late 2007 and early 2008. He originally missed weight for this fight by nearly eight pounds; he eventually weighed in at 189.5 pounds and Chael Sonnen's camp agreed to the catchweight fight.
Because of the missed weight, however, the bout was turned from a five round title fight into a three round non-title match, which punished Sonnen even though he came in under the weight limit.In the actual fight, Filho looked horrible. He was lethergic, slow, and completely unwilling to engage. The live crowd became enraged, chanting obscenities at Filho and Sonnen, but it was obvious that Sonnen could do nothing to turn up the pace of the fight. Filho was uninterested in fighting Chael Sonnen at all, and Sonnen again suffered because of it.
Paulo Filho will not be moving to the UFC's 185 pound weight class alongside the other WEC middleweights. In fact, it's very likely that Filho is completely finished with Zuffa for the foreseeable future. There is a belief among WEC executives that he has a lot of mental issues that need to be addressed, and until he figures those things out, they will not use him for any future UFC shows as they had long planned to do. Putting him in the cage at this point is both a hazard to his health and a detriment to the product. It's very likely that he'll soon be released.
- New WEC Featherweight champion Mike Brown may have finished Urijah Faber in shocking fashion, but it was he who took a trip to the hospital at the end of the night. Brown suffered a broken rib in the fight and was taken to the emergency room immediately after leaving the cage. His adrenaline allowed him to overlook the painful injury during the course of the fight, but he doubled over in pain while walking backstage and was hospitalized.
- Despite the loss, Faber was upbeat at the post-show press conference. He admitted that he got caught, but said that he likes to look at the positive things in life and that he'll be back. When asked if his trademark wild fighting style cost him the fight, he admitted that it was a possibility and that he'd have to take a look at footage from the bout to see what went wrong.
- The vibe coming from WEC officials after the show is that deserving contender Leonard Garcia likely will not get the first shot at new champion Mike Brown.
Garcia, who finished UFC legend Jens Pulver in just 72 seconds, pushed WEC executives hard for a title shot after the show, but they weren't committal in their response. The promotion wants to do a pay per view event in early 2009, and it's pretty much guaranteed that Mike Brown vs. Leonard Garcia is not the optimal main event for the company's first paid event.
The main event will likely instead feature a rematch between Faber and Brown, which has suddenly become the most interesting fight the company has available. Faber's credentials are enough to justify putting him above Garcia, and in reality Faber is still far and away the biggest draw and biggest star the company has. The entire promotion is built around him, and the story of him seeking redemption against only the second man to beat him will be far more interesting than last night's fight was.
Is it enough to sell a pay per view? WEC typically puts on good to great shows every time out of the gate, and if they price this show around $15 or $20 it could draw very well. With the lower fighter payroll in WEC and the hype machine available to them through UFC programming, it should be fairly easy to draw a respectable buyrate and turn a respectable profit.
I will have more news and notes surrounding WEC in my Friday news update on Inside Fights. For more coverage of WEC 36, see Shawn Winfield's WEC 36 Live Play By Play and my own WEC 36 Recap on Inside Fights.
Jeremy Botter is the Editor of Inside Fights, a daily blog title covering mixed martial arts, boxing and other combat sports. He has written about mixed martial arts since 2001, and also contributes to the Houston Chronicle's MMA coverage as well as Bleacher Report's MMA community.