Monday, June 2, 2008

WEC Review

All I have to say is WOW! That was far and away the best night of free fights I've ever seen. If CBS wants to see how to get a show done right look no further. No bombast, no skanks, no fireworks, no rappers, and most importantly real fights with real fighters. This is what MMA is all about and the whole show lived up to the hype. Alright let's break down the fights:

Chase Beebe v. Will Ribeiro: This fight did not make the televised portion of the show. The only reason I'm commenting on this fight, even though I didn't see it, is because as confident as I can be in my selections I'm man enough to own up to my mistakes. I made a huge mistake here underestimating an unknown fighter fighting an ex champion. I didn't see the fight so I really can't comment but I picked Beebe to win handily by submission and Ribeiro eeked out a split decision victory. My bad.

Kenneth Alexander v. Rob McCullough: This fight stayed on the feet the whole time with Rob stuffing a couple of Ken's shots. Rob looked pretty rusty and he even admitted to that so obviously this was not the most compelling fight (and the fans let them know it). He did just enough to win which isn't saying much because Alexander had almost no stand up game to speak of and one judge still gave Ken the fight. I got the pick right but not the prediction. Hopefully Rob can come back stronger in his next fight.

Chuck Grigsby v. Mark Munoz: I didn't pick this fight so I'll just comment on it. It was a solid fight with a great ending. Grigsby tried to keep it standing so he could use his length and what I bet is superior stand up but Munoz would not be denied on his take downs. He finally got Grigsby to the ground toward the end of round 1 and was able to land a couple good shots ending the fight by KO which is really hard to do on the ground. Munoz is inexperienced and needs to improve the other elements of his game outside of his ground and pound but he looks like a promising up and comer. He will only get better too, training with Urijah Faber's camp.

Miguel Torres v. Yoshiro Maeda: If the Pulver v. Faber fight wasn't a candidate for fight of the year this fight would've won fight of the night. These two just went at it. Both of them were using everything in their arsenal to try to finish the fight. Maeda's unorthodox style threw off Torres at first but as the fight wore on Torres got the better of the stand up. Both of them went for a couple shots and looked very comfortable on the ground protecting themselves well and looking good in the scramble even catching each other in a double toe hold until they both thought better of it. These guys just traded shots but as I said, as the fight wore on Torres' superior kick boxing shined through. He beat on Maeda's right eye until there was nothing left and it was totally swollen shut and the fight had to be stopped in between the 2nd and 3rd round. I almost got this pick right calling Torres winning in the second round. Unfortunately I picked submission instead of TKO but I was close. This was a great fight that should've shown every one that tuned in that the guys at 135 are just as entertaining, if not more, than the big guys.

Jens Pulver v. Urijah Faber: As I mentioned in the last breakdown this is a fight of the year candidate and to be honest it will be hard to beat but there are 7 months left so who knows? These guys just went to war for 5 rounds knocking each other silly. Surprisingly the fight stayed standing the majority of the time. I really expected Faber to try and take it to the ground quick but Pulver proved his wrestling skills were still sharp. He was able to stuff some take downs and was able to tie up Faber pretty good when they got to the ground. On the feet I was very surprised at how good Faber's stand up was. I thought Pulver actually had the advantage there. I almost thought I might see my prediction come true of Faber finishing Pulver in the second (although I said by submission but it was almost by KO) but Pulver soldiered through and somehow stayed conscious. This gave Faber a 10-8 round which pretty much doomed Pulver. He didn't win a round anyway but most people knew the fight was over after the second round unless Pulver caught Faber somehow. Pulver looked very good. In fact he looked better than I've seen him in years. I didn't expect him to go 5 but he did just that even if he lost. I thought Pulver's career was over and it probably is at 155 but at 145 there is some life left in those legs. He went to to toe with one of the best fighters in the world for 5 rounds and came out the other end. On that note Faber solidified his spot in the top 10 P4P after this fight. He finally beat an opponent that gave him a true test at 145 and totally beat him down. His stand up was more impressive than most people expected and of course his ground game was solid. He may not be up there with the Anderson Silvas, GSPs, and BJ Penns of the world but now no one can deny how good this kid really is. Again, this fight showed people how good the lighter weight classes really are and how exciting these fights can be. I'm not sure what's next for Faber who is officially the face of the WEC and the 145 division. He seems comfortable at this weight but I'd love to see him try out his skills at 155 which would only boost his ranking in terms of P4P.

Hopefully this card redeemed some of what MMA had lost the night before at EliteXC in terms of actual artistry and competition. MMA needed to show the world that it's not about gimmicks and hype but about real men stepping into the cage and finding out who is better. It was a topsy turvy weekend for MMA with lots of ups and downs. However, in terms of mainstream recognition and buzz, I'm not sure the sport had seen more since Rampage Jackson fought Chuck Liddell. I'm hoping that in the case of EliteXC the old adage "There's no such thing as bad publicity" works and I'm hoping that enough people tuned in to the WEC to see what real fights look like. If this is the case MMA might've taken a huge leap forward this weekend in terms of converting some casual fans to regulars and converting non watchers into casual fans. If the opposite is true MMA may find itself back on the outskirts and in the underground that it's been fighting so hard to get out of over the past decade. The hardcore fans will always be there but what the sport needs is fewer detractors (media, politicians, and nutty activists) and more casual fans which is how all the other major sports were able to grow into big mainstream business. That's it for now folks. Stay tuned as my TUF 7 review will be coming this Thursday as always. Until then,

Soccer kicks and head stomps...

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