10 Things We Learned Last Week: A WEC 52 / UFC 122 Combo Plate
Two Zuffa events hit the air last week for nothing more than the cost of your monthly cable bill. In the spirit of the upcoming merger between the WEC and UFC, rolling the recaps of WEC 52 and UFC 122 into a single piece seems right, for a number of reasons.
For starters, neither show carried enough weight to merit ten true talking points, but also because the dynamic action that did come from the second-last WEC event plays so well against the not-so-impressive offering from the UFC.
Soon we won’t be talking about two events and how the lighter-weight fighters could spice up these Spike TV offerings, so why not get a head start on the proceedings and work the week that was in tandem.
Faber Shines in Bantamweight Debut
Faber looked more than impressive in dominating Takeya Mizugaki en route to a first round submission win. Back closer to his collegiate wrestling weight, the drop to 135-pounds clearly wasn’t an issue, as Faber looked as fast and as fit as he’s been in recent memory. Mizugaki was supposed to be a stern challenge, but instead, Faber made quick work of his opponent and placed himself near the top of the contender heap.
While nothing was promised, a speedy trip to a title shot for Faber makes perfect sense. In addition to having history with current champion Dominick Cruz, Faber is one of the few WEC additions who have the name recognition needed to help sell a UFC pay-per-view.
Okami Wins, Could Get Fitch’ed
Yushin Okami’s days as the best middleweight to never receive a title shot appear to be over. Saturday night, the Japanese fighter earned his tenth and most important UFC victory, out-pointing Nate Marquardt in a close and uneventful outing to earn the title of #1 contender and a 2011 shot at UFC gold.
While Dana White reaffirmed Okami’s shot after the event, the victory was as vanilla as they come, putting little charge into the German crowd and those watching at home. Wins like that have caused title opportunities to disappear in the past. Just ask Jon Fitch.
With the middleweight title tentatively set to be defended in February, an additional four-month stretch until the next bout wouldn’t be unreasonable. Depending on how things play out for Chael Sonnen with the CSAC, it wouldn’t be wholly unbelievable to see the suspended Team Quest fighter replace his friend opposite the reigning champion.
Is It Time to Reduce the Greg Jackson Praise?
There is no question that Greg Jackson and his charges have had great success inside the Octagon, but has the time come where we’re heaping too much praise on fighters coming out of the New Mexico outfit?
Marquardt fell short on Saturday night, fighting too cautiously to accomplish anything, a criticism that has been levied against the Jackson camp quite frequently recently. While guys like Jon Jones and Brendan Schaub are emerging, Keith Jardine’s decline counteracts that success. Additionally, how much of the success that comes out of New Mexico is natural and how much is nurtured by the MMA Yoda and his fellow Jedi?
Two Shows Combine to Show Why Merger Makes Sense
In so many ways, watching the two events in rather short succession illustrates why the move to bring the lighter weight fighters of the WEC into the fold works so well right now.
Both shows featured a number of lesser known fighters, but while the action from the WEC event more than made up for the anonymity, the UFC’s efforts fell short. Adding the dynamic talents who have made WEC events must-see cards over the past two years into the roster, the UFC should be able to reduce, if not eliminate, events of this nature entirely.
Additionally, more divisions mean the opportunity to showcase more meaningful fights. Outside of the main event, nothing on the UFC 122 fight card was overly important in terms of contention. With two more divisions worth of contenders to contend with, the meaningless bouts that made up the main card in Germany can be shuffled to the preliminary portion.
Lastly, bringing in three divisions worth of talent will force the UFC to trim their roster. Let’s just leave it at that.