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Review of last night’s WEC show on Versus

Overall, I thought it was a slightly above average show. I liked the first show much better simply because the fights turned out better. The outcome of fights isn’t something a promotion can control so I’m not blaming the WEC. It’s just the way things went down.

Maybe some blame can be assessed to the WEC for not finding a better opponent for Paulo Filho, but if you want to find his equal then you’re going to have to bring in Dan Henderson, Matt Lindland, Rich Franklin, or Anderson Silva. That’s not going to happen and I think Joe Doerksen was a handpicked opponent to allow Filho to look dominant and help build up his name recognition in the States. 

If that was the goal, then mission accomplished. If you had never seen Filho fight before then I don’t know how you couldn’t have been impressed with him after last night’s performance.

I do think some people are getting carried away though as I’ve read some message forum posts proclaiming Filho a good striker now. While his punches looked pretty powerful, his technique was not refined. He works hard on his striking but he still has a long way to go before he can be labeled a good, technical striker. 

I was also disappointed by the quick outcome of the Larson vs. Condit match. I expected a war. But you can’t blame anyone because looking at it from a matchmaker’s perspective, there isn’t a bigger challenge to Condit currently on the roster than Larson. It was a great matchup that just didn’t go according to plan. 

I am thoroughly impressed by Condit each time I see him fight. He’s going to be big time and will definitely be fighting in the UFC within the next two years. The WEC will need to bolster their welterweight division though if they want to make things interesting until then. If he can get past Larson that quickly then there’s no one who will pose much of a threat. 

Jeff Curran vs. Stephen Ledbetter wasn’t anything special in my book but it was just good to see Curran in a televised match. It looks like there is a build towards a WEC featherweight title match between Urijah Faber and Curran. While I think Faber would win that match, it would still be pretty exciting. 

Jamie Varner looked great in a dominant performance over Sherron Leggett. Varner is now 13-2 and should get to fight the winner of WEC lightweight title match next month between Razor Rob and Rich Crunkilton. That’s not anything I’ve heard, just my opinion. 

Random Rants: 

  • I’m usually a big fan of Frank Mir’s work as a commentator. I thought he did great during the first live show several months back but I thought his game was off a little last night. It seemed like he couldn’t get his timing down.

  • To piggyback on a point made by Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer several months back, having Frank Mir do the post-fight interviews is just a bad idea. Mir towers over everyone and makes them look like midgets. Why not just pay some local Vegas sports reporter $2,000 per show to come in and do the interviews?

  • Because of quick results to a lot of the fights they were able to show a lot of fighters in attendance. It makes the WEC seem a lot bigger. I also liked the interviews with Jens Pulver and Rob McCullough and how they promoted the next show. They did a much better job of future promotion this time than last but that’s likely because when they did the first Versus live show, there weren’t a lot of definitive details about the second show.

  • Speaking of Pulver, if Mir is ever in a position where he can’t do a show because he’s training for a fight, Pulver would be an excellent substitute. He’s already done some broadcast work for the UFC and the IFL. If ESPN ever hired their own analysts for their coverage of MMA on ESPNews, Pulver would be a perfect for such a role.

  • They should do an even better job with future promotion. Why is it that Joe Riggs is telling The Fight Network he’s fighting Jason Miller in October? Why do so many promotions get scooped on their own news? Maybe there wasn’t enough time, but it would have been cool if the report was addressed in some fashion.

  • I am real curious to know the duration of the WEC’s contract with Versus. I just feel the product deserves a better distribution outlet. They have a lot of potential superstars in Condit, Filho, Larson, Urijah Faber, Jason Miller, Carlos Condit, “Razor” Rob McCullough, and Rich Crunkilton but I just don’t think Versus gives them enough exposure. I know a lot of people who still don’t get Versus and on systems that do carry it, it’s usually buried. I have DirecTV and it’s in between a tier of premium sports channels on channel 608. The non-premium sports channels (ESPN, ESPNews, NFL Network, etc.) are all in the 200’s. You can run all the promos of the fighters you want on Versus but what good is it if the only time people watch Versus is for the WEC? People really don’t even watch the NHL on Versus. Hell, there are already rumblings that the NHL could be going back to ESPN once their Versus deal is up.

  • Prime channel positioning is important. My in-laws don’t even like MMA yet they knew exactly what the IFL was when they found out I was going to cover the show this past Thursday. They know what the IFL is because they watch it every Monday in spite of the fact they don’t like MMA. Why do they watch it? Probably because there is nothing but reruns of sitcoms or first run versions of scrub reality shows on network TV right now and the IFL is on channel 17 here in the Philly area. If you’re a channel flipper, you’re going to be passing the IFL. If you’re a channel flipper, odds are you aren’t going to find the WEC.

  • If they aren’t looking into it already, Zuffa should be exploring other future television options for the WEC. I know it’s easier said than done, but I think the USA network would be great. The clearance is strong and the channel has prominent positioning on most cable systems. And of course, ESPN would be even better. You would think ESPN would have room for the WEC on ESPN II with WrekCage every Tuesday or Wednesday night along with a live monthly show.

  • They should also do some kind of deal with YouTube that would put all the WrekCage shows on the Internet for free. They have a product that is very appealing to hardcores and it’s time to let everyone see it and get them all talking.

  • The WEC champions are as follows: Chase Beebe at bantamweight (135 lbs.); Urijah Faber at featherweight (145 lbs.); “Razor” Rob McCullough at lightweight (155 lbs.); Carlos Condit at welterweight (170 lbs.); Paulo Filho at middleweight (185 lbs.); and Doug Marshall at light heavyweight (205 lbs.). That’s a pretty impressive lineup of champions. It could be a long time until McCullough, Faber, Condit, and Filho lose (if they ever lose in the WEC).

  • Right now the only fighter currently on the WEC roster who poses even a small threat to Filho is Jason “Mayhem” Miller. If Filho gets past Miller, he’ll have smooth sailing until an inevitable debut in the UFC.

  • There’s still a lot of talk that more additions will be made to the WEC roster consisting of a lot of the Japanese fighters from Pride. I still haven’t heard any names though. A non-Japanese fighter from Pride that I’d love to see is Zelg Galesic. Pride signed Galesic from Cage Rage and he debuted at Pride 34 and lost. However, the guy has a ton of potential and has earned the nickname of “Mini-Cro Cop.” He’s a prospect and would fit perfectly on the WEC roster.
  • The WEC should have shown highlights of fights that took place on the preliminary portion of the card. Antonio Banuelos fought earlier on the show and has increased name recognition after being featured on TapouT. He could be a future title contender at 135 lbs. but there’s no promotion behind him coming from the WEC.

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