Did you shell out 45 dollars for that lackluster UFC 119 pay-per-view this past weekend? Are you feeling ripped off after watching Mir and Cro Cop hug each other for 14 minutes before one knee knocked out the has-been Pride champ? Are you kicking yourself viciously like Shogun kicked Machida because your hard earned cash went to a Bader lay-and-pray over Nogueira, and a bizarre three round slugfest between Serra and Lytle?
Well, if you did purchase the Mir vs. Cro Cop UFC then you definitely answered yes to all those questions. The bad news is the cable company has your money and there is no way you are getting it back. There is good news, however. Tonight’s WEC event on Versus is one of the best cards they have ever put out, and it costs a grand total of “free-99.” It may not completely take the sting out of your wasted money, but it’s a guaranteed night of good fights and it won’t cost you a cent, so it will go a long way towards cancelling out the rip off that was UFC 119.
The card is not getting promoted much at all, and despite it’s growing popularity World Extreme Cagefighting is still largely unknown to the casual MMA fan. But if you have not tuned into a WEC event yet, tonight is the night to do so. They consistently put on entertaining shows, and I can count on one hand how many boring fights I have seen in the blue cage. I am not exactly sure why the fights are all so good- it could be the smaller weight classes and thus the faster athletes, or it could be the fighters get paid less and are hungrier for fame and fortune- but the explanation is not necessary. All that matters is the fights are always great, and though the event is still hours away I can already tell you WEC 51 will be a guaranteed stellar night of mixed martial arts.
The main card kicks off with two former UFC lightweight contenders squaring off at Featherweight- Leonard Garcia and Mark Hominick. Garcia is not the most technical fighter I have ever seen, but he puts on a show every time he steps into the cage and leaves it all on the mat each fight. His last bout was a contender for “Fight of the Year,” as he pulled out a controversial decision win over the Korean Zombie in a classic three round war. Expect another back and forth battle tonight that could go either way, as Hominick is no slouch. He won both his UFC fights over Yves Edwards and Jorge Gurgel, and is currently on a three-fight win streak to up his total MMA record to 18-8.
Chan Sung Jung, aka “The Korean Zombie,” made a big name for himself in that great fight with Garcia back in April, and now gets a shot at winning before the judges can take it away from him. Coincidentally enough, he will square off against George Roop, who is also coming off a split decision with Leonard Garcia, and is also coming off a “Fight of the Night” award. The only difference there is Roop earned a draw while the Zombie took a hard luck loss. This one would be an easy pick for “Fight of the Night” on many WEC cards, yet tonight it is considered an afterthought.
For the better part of two years Miguel Torres was considered the most unbeatable fighter in the WEC. On this card he is now relegated to the fight before the co-main event. Since his third and final successful Bantamweight title defense last April, Torres has lost two consecutive fights and his stock has hit the canvas. But before we completely write off Torres, remember that his two losses were to Brian Bowles and Joseph Benavidez, who are both excellent fighters. They recently squared off against each other for the title at WEC 50, and neither won can be considered a bad loss. And despite the two fight slump, Miguel is still an astonishing 37-3 in his MMA career, having won 17 straight before the loss to Bowles. His opponent tonight is Charlie Valencia, an up and coming bantamweight with a three-fight winning streak in the WEC. One day he may be a legitimate contender for the title, but I just can’t see Torres going down a third straight time. This one may not last long, but it’s still a must-watch as Miguel Torres should put out his best effort and put on an entertaining clinic.
After all those great fights we finally come to the two main events. First off is the highly anticipated rematch between Jamie Varner and Donald Cerrone. These two lightweights last fought at WEC 38 in a title fight that ended in controversy when Cerrone hit Varner with 5th round illegal knee and Varner could not continue. Though the shot appeared to only glance off Varner’s face, Jamie could not continue and the judges awarded him a shortened split decision victory to retain the belt. Varner has since lost the title, but that is not in his mind tonight. All he will be thinking about is Donald Cerrone, as the two fight again in a very necessary rematch.
And as if that back story isn’t enough juice for this fight, the trash talking has been intense for this one to hype it up even more. Cerrone has publicly said he hopes to kill Varner, while Varner retorted by saying his opponent’s “barbaric” and “uneducated” comments set the MMA world back 10 years. Both get their chance to settle the score tonight, and this one is my prediction for “Fight of the Night,” on a night when any bout could win it.
Finally we come to the main event. Former TUF runner-up Manvel “The Anvil” Gamburyan gets a Featherweight title shot, in what is undoubtedly the biggest fight of his life. Unfortunately for him, he is going up against one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world and one of my favorite guys to watch, current champ Jose Aldo. The 24-year old dynamo is quickly becoming one of the faces of mixed martial arts, and if you have never seen him fight then don’t let the opportunity slip tonight. Aldo has lightning quick hands, spectacular power for a 145 pounder, and amazing athleticism. He has never lost in the WEC (7-0), and has just one defeat in his entire career…five years ago.
Gamburyan has a ton of confidence going into the fight and as is always the case in a fight he surely has a puncher’s chance. Maybe he knows something the rest of us don’t, but I would be utterly shocked if he won the belt tonight. Aldo is an absolute beast, and should be able to finish this stacked card with an exclamation point victory that will fit nicely in his highlight reel.
So do me a favor and tune into Versus tonight at 9. At the very least set your DVR and watch it later- I do understand Thursday is a big TV night. This card will be action-packed, exciting from start to finish, and has both big names and good matchups. Most importantly for us though this card is free, which means no matter how many knockouts or submissions there may be, the biggest winner tonight is the fans.