This weekend WEC is finally stepping out of the shadow of the UFC and putting on a pay per view card of its own. Since Zuffa, the parent company of the UFC, purchased WEC in 2006 it has used it primarily to showcase the fighters in the lower weight classes.
This has allowed Zuffa to maintain its MMA monopoly by tying up the best talent in the weight classes not currently covered by the UFC. However WEC is in danger of outshining the UFC in terms of both the talent at its disposal and the quality of fights on offer.
The lighter a fighter is the higher the pace they are able to set and the WEC has provided some classic back and forth battle. Many felt that Miguel Torres vs Yoshiro Maeda at WEC 34 was the 2008 fight of the year. Ben Henderson vs. Donald Cerrone at WEC 43 was also arguably the best fight of 2009.
This weekend’s card will be the most eagerly anticipated in WEC history. Headlining WEC 48 will be the featherweight bout between Jose Aldo and Uriah Faber. Faber is WEC’s golden boy and a former featherweight champion. Known as the California kid he will be fighting in front of his hometown crowd and looking to recapture the title he lost to Mike Brown in 2008.
Faber doesn’t just have the charisma and looks necessary to be an MMA poster boy, he also has the ability. However he will have his work cut out if he is to wrestle the belt away from Jose Aldo. Every single one of the Brazilian’s six WEC fights has ended in a stoppage win. He won the title courtesy of a surprise second round stoppage of Mike Brown last November.
Faber may be a submission specialist will not be expecting to easily submit Aldo who is himself a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt. Given his current run of KOs the Brazilian will probably look to keep the fight standing in search of a seventh consecutive stoppage.
There is another title on the line in the co main event as Henderson and Cerrone meet in a lightweight rematch. The first fight, which Henderson won by decision was a classic and further fireworks will be expected in the second installment. With the WEC’s lightweight division highly likely to be absorbed by the UFC in the near future both men will be looking to send a serious statement of content to the UFC’s existing lightweight roster.
A fight between former featherweight champion Mike Brown and TUF veteran Manvel Gamburyan is also an intriguing prospect. Despite his loss to Aldo Brown is still the number two ranked featherweight in the world and will be looking to get his career back on track with a win over Gamburyan. The Armenian reached the final of TUF 5 as a lightweight and holds a record of 2-2 in the UFC. He has won two fights out of two in WEC and looks a force to be reckoned with fighting at his natural weight.
It is fights of this caliber which persuaded Zuffa to make this the first ever WEC card to air on pay per view. Many are calling this the best MMA card of the year and when the 2010 fight of the year honors are eventually announced it would be a surprise if WEC 48 didn’t provide at least a couple of contenders.