The Aftermath: Five Thoughts From WEC 48: Aldo vs. Faber
WEC 48: Aldo vs. Faber is in the books. A superstar is born in Jose Aldo. Urijah Faber showed one of the more gutsy performances to date in his loss. Ben Henderson proved he is the real deal at lightweight. And Leonard Garcia and Chan Sung Jung put on a fight for the ages. Now, to my five thoughts…
1. Jose Aldo is one of the best pound for pound fighters in the sport. The performance that we saw on Saturday night was nothing short of brilliant. A win over Urijah Faber is one thing. But a complete and utter destruction of one of the best lighter weight fighters in the sport is definitely another. From the opening bell, the young Brazilian frustrated Faber and took him out of his game, all the while chopping away at his legs with brutal kicks that forced the former champ to fight on one leg for the majority of the fight. At only 23 years of age, Jose Aldo showed the patience and maturity in the cage of a fighter more his senior. He also showcased truly elite level quickness, strength and agility to go along with one of the most feared striking arsenals in the sport. He’s easily the top 145lb guy in the sport. And in my humble opinion, he currently comes in at number 5 on the pound for pound list, with only Fedor Emelianenko, Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, and Lyoto Machida ranking ahead of him – but it would be hard for me to argue if anyone decided to put him in the top 3.
2. The WEC rarely fails to satisfy. There is little doubt that WEC 48, errr Aldo vs. Faber, was the best fight card so far in 2010. But more often than not, people walk away from just about every WEC show talking about how unbelievably fun/awesome/crazy the card ended up being. Not only do the smaller guys tend to have better cardio than their larger counterparts, but the WEC cage is actually smaller than the UFC’s. Bigger gas tanks and less room to run means more action, and action is exactly what the WEC brings to the table with each and every event.
3. Chad Mendes will be a fixture in the top 5 at 145lbs. Mendes (7-0) came into MMA a very decorated wrestler, having earned All-American honors twice while at Cal Poly. He joined up with Urijah Faber and company at Team Alpha Male and has seen his skill set increase dramatically. As his stand up and submission games continue to develop and get closer to his wrestling ability, the sky is the limit for the 24 year old.
4. It’s going to take one hell of a fight to take Fight of the Year honors away from Leonard Garcia and Chan Sung Jung. I’m sure there were some striking coaches out there who were cringing while watching this one. Technical, it was not. Entertaining, it was very. This was truly the definition of leaving it all in the cage and sacrificing your body for the sake of the crowd. In the post fight press conference, both Garcia and Jung looked like they had been hit by a bus, but both remained upbeat and cracked a couple jokes. Garcia even said he wished he could have a fight like that every month, if his body could take it. Well Leonard, it can’t, but we’ll settle for one every thee months. It was a blast.
5. Rolling the WEC into the UFC is more complicated than it seems. I’ve said to everyone that will listen that I think the WEC should just be folded into the UFC. From the outside, it seems to make perfect sense. You add two belts. You add additional headliners. You get super exciting fights on a regular basis. But an industry insider informed me that it is far more complicated than it seems at first glance. First, there are contracts. Lots of them. Contracts with Versus, the cable television home to the organization. Contracts with AMP Energy, the official energy drink of the WEC. Contracts with MusclePharm, the official supplement line of the WEC. The list goes on. Secondly, adding more fighters to the UFC roster would essentially be taking up job space for guys that are already there. In turn, if you were a lower level UFC guy now, one loss would nearly automatically equal a pink slip as they’d have to keep the roster numbers in order. Thirdly, it makes it hard to develop stars by putting their fights on television. With the added depth of stars, nearly all prospects are going to be relegated to the undercard for at least their first 3 or 4 fights because you can’t (well, rarely) put a proven star in a dark match that won’t be seen on television. All this being said, I hope they figure something out because guys like Jose Aldo, Urijah Faber, Dominick Cruz, Miguel Torres and the like deserve the bright light treatment and the upper echelon of the lighter weights could easily support a pay per view broadcast.
– Fight of the Night: Leonard Garcia and Chan Sung Jung ($65,000 each)
– Knockout of the Night: Manny Gamburyan ($65,000)
– Submission of the Night: Ben Henderson ($65,000)
– Attendance: 14,144
– Live Gate: Over $1mm