I really enjoyed last night’s WEC telecast. A lot of the matches were short but there was a TON of action. The skill level in some of the matches were exceptional and there were also a couple of brutal knockouts. I thought this month’s show was more entertaining even though last month’s card looked better on paper going in.
I’ll give my thoughts on each match and the fighters but first I wanted to get into some general thoughts:
— A lot of people snicker when Zuffa makes claims that the WEC will be equal to the UFC but I don’t think anyone at Zuffa is saying they are equal right now. The goal is for the WEC to be at that level in the future and it will take time. If they can continue to develop younger fighters and also bring in some more established guys like Paulo Filho, it wouldn’t surprise me if we start seeing the WEC on PPV within the next year. I don’t think you’d see them run PPVs monthly but they could do it quarterly. Some might say that will be too many PPVs for Zuffa but they had planned on also running PRIDE PPVs in the States after they announced the acquisition in March.
— I’d love for WEC matchmaker Scott Adams to take on a bigger on-camera role. I keep hearing a lot of good things about him from the fighters. Having a public figurehead would definitely give the WEC a “bigger” feel. It would also help further distinguish the brand from the UFC. It would be cool to see Adams get out there and do some interviews talking about the current state of the product and future plans for the WEC.
— I liked some of the graphics and interviews between fights that were done to educate people about the WEC (like the weight class breakdown) and to also promote their stars. Faber was interviewed again as usual and they asked him about Jeff Curran. This is the type of thing EliteXC needs to do during their ShoXC telecasts. I really liked the graphic that highlighted the current champ in each weight class. A lot of promotions aren’t doing a great job of developing new stars but the WEC is doing a lot of grass roots things that can make a difference over time.
— It’s minor, but I like the fighter vignettes they show prior to a match. They don’t have the cheasy waterfall in the back and they don’t use the tired music beds that the UFC uses. It’s the same production company yet to me, the WEC production comes off much slicker than the UFC.
— I think Frank Mir did a much better on the telecast. His effort was much closer to the one he turned in for the first show. The dynamic between him and play-by-play announcer Todd Harris is really unique, to say the least. Harris really defers to Mir often and sets him up a lot. At times Mir is almost the play-by-play announcer. Harris is more like a moderator rather than a guy who does the blow-by-blow. It’s unconventional but I think it works for them.
Onto the matches:
– “Razor Rob McCullough vs. Rich Crunkilton via first round TKO: I want to echo Mir’s statements in being shocked that Crunkilton decided to stand and trade like that. There just isn’t much to comment on because the fight only went 1:29. Crunkilton is a much better fighter than what he showed but McCullough’s standup is good enough for the UFC. The only missing link is his ground game but I hear he’s been training hard in that area.
– Chase Beebe wins unanimous decision over Rani Yahya: After that first round I really thought Beebe was going to lose. Yahya’s Jiu-Jitsu is incredible and he was cutting from 145 lbs. so I thought he was being brought in to ace the division. Beebe really impressed me because Yahya owned him in the first round but Beebe showed no signs of frustration and kept fighting. Beebe’s submission defense was incredible. But Yahya’s BJJ clinic in the first round was really cool to watch. I don’t know why, but I don’t think there is an organization out there right now that has more entertaining ground fighting than the WEC.
– Brian Stann defeated Jeremiah Billington via first round TKO: Billington had a decent record and I’m sure he’s a good fighter. However, he didn’t look like he belonged in the cage with Stann. Stann just mowed that dude down. I don’t usually agree with people who say he hasn’t fought good fighters but the complaints about the competition he’s facing were applicable last night. Billington looked more like a middleweight. The WEC has high hopes for Stann, and understandably so, and it looks like Billington was tailor made for him in that he’d stand and trade with Stann but would be giving up a lot of reach. Stann’s already a good fighter but once he starts training with Team Quest full-time you’ll see him become great. They’ll really help him expand his ground game. I think we could see Stann fight Doug Marshall for the WEC light heavyweight title as soon as December. It’ll be a slugfest and I think Stann would take it.
– Blas Avena defeated Joe Benoit via guillotine choke at 0:29 of round 1: This match wasn’t live but it was shown on tape because the first live match went so short. 29 seconds realy doesn’t give me a lot to comment on.
– Bryan Baker defeats Jesse Forbes via TKO in round one: Man, Forbes looks a lot different. It’s not just the hair either. The weight makes a huge difference. He came out like a ball of fire and I thought Baker was in serious trouble but Baker kept his composure. He showed a strong chin during the fight and I thought he was done at one point. But he came back and steamrolled Forbes. This match was really crazy because it was so short but offered so much action. Baker’s body slam when he was in that guillotine was really cool. One of the coolest moves I’ve seen in a long time. Baker looks like a strong middleweight prospect. How is Zuffa finding all these guys?
– Miguel Torres defeat Jeff Bedard via first round submission: I heard a lot of good things about Torres coming into the match but this was the first time I was able to see him fight. At 5’9” he’s kind of freakishly tall for the division. You know, I’m not sure what to make of the 135 lbs. division though. These guys are so small it’s almost like watching little people fight. Look, they’re no doubt skilled and are able to fight non-stop in a lot of cases but I’m still warming up to the division as a whole. But Torres looked good in brief action even though Bedard achieved top position. He just kind of slipped that triangle in there with ease. Torres is tall enough that he could always elect to put more weight on his frame and fight at 145 lbs. The bantamweight division needs him now though.