WEC 53 “Henderson vs. Pettis” will mark the final event that Zuffa will put on under the WEC banner. While in the long run the positives of the merger will far outweigh the negatives there are still some things that will be sorely missed inside and outside of the blue mat.
5. Free 5-Round Title Fights
We all love free MMA, but when it’s a manly 5 rounds that’s when things get really juicy. I’ve stated my disdain for 3 round affairs as more times than not the storyline of the fight just begins to unfold around 3 rounds. Just this last weekend we witnessed a fight in Lyoto Machida vs. Quinton Jackson that may have had a definitive ending with 2 more rounds tacked on instead of a controversial decision. The last time we had a UFC title bout on free television was in 2007 with Dan Henderson vs. Quinton Jackson(pictured above), so we may get the very rare treat from Zuffa, but not like the WEC sometimes monthly offerings.
4. Excellent Matchmaking
It’s true that WEC matchmaker extraordinaire, Sean Shelby, will be taking his services to the UFC, but he won’t have the freedom and flexibility to mix and match quality lighter weight fighters that he had when putting together a full 10-11 bout card. Take WEC 52 for example, any hardcore MMA nut would agree that Urijah Faber vs. Takeya Mizugaki, Chad Mendes vs. Javier Vazquez, Joseph Benavidez vs. Wagnney Fabiano and Demetrious Johnson vs. Damacio Page have no business being on the same card. How about Raphael Assuncao vs. L.C. Davis and Cub Swanson vs. Mackens Semerzier on the undercard? Yep, we were extremely spoiled whores like Paris Hilton or that girl down the street.
3. Quality Mid-Week or Sunday MMA
Sure, Saturday is the traditional night you bring all your buddies over and watch the big fight, but there’s something so special about those Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday cards. Maybe it’s because I consider myself sort of a misanthrope and watching some quality MMA action during the week or on Sunday night when people have to work the next day is somewhat peaceful. I like Sundays because if I’m watching the Chicago Bears at 1 or 4 and Jay Cutler starts being Jay Cutler I can always heal my wounds with a Jose Aldo flying knee or a Team Alpha Male guillotine choke. Don’t get me wrong I love Bellator on Thursday, but let’s be honest the WEC is a superior product.
2. The Fight Cards
Would I have ever gotten tired of Donald Cerrone fighting Jaime Varner or Ben Henderson for the 2,989th time? Probably, but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t be enthralled by them every single time because it’s always quality. As mentioned earlier, Sean Shelby is fantastic and knows what it takes to fill a card up with appropriate matches. Whether it’s a blazing prospect like Chad Mendes or an established star like Urijah Faber these cards are always filled to the brim with fights that make a ton of sense in the grand scheme of things.
1. The Fights
Donald Cerrone vs. Ben Henderson 1 is still maybe the best MMA fight I’ve ever seen. How about Urijah Faber vs. Jens Pulver 2, Demetrious Johnson vs. Brad Pickett and who can forget Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung. The merry-go-round lightweights of Varner/Cerrone/Henderson always produced instant classics. The Bantamweights were no less exciting with Miguel Torres vs. Yoshiro Maeda producing the kind of action that heavyweights dream of at night. Faber vs. Brown, Benavidez vs. Cruz, the list goes on and on.
Honorable Mention: Frank Mir gave us some brilliant color commentary for awhile.