WEC 48, or should I say... Aldo vs. Faber, was a huge success in terms of action on both the pay-per-view setting and the free preliminary action shown on Spike TV. In fact, the Spike TV battle between Chan Sung Jung and Leonard Garcia was one of the most entertaining battles we've seen in recent memory, and it should vie for fight of the year before all is said and done. I could delve deep into the branding questions, but... let's talk about the fights!
Jose Aldo's first title defense since demolishing former champion Mike Brown at WEC 44 was a surprisingly lopsided success. While many fans felt Faber's speed could be the ultimate x-factor in a showdown with Aldo, Aldo proved that his own speed and range striking tactics were far superior and damaging than anything Faber could muster.
Over the course of five rounds, Faber's lead leg was battered, bruised, and beaten to a point in which Faber was nearly immobile. The speedy takedown ability and rushing strikes that have made Faber a constant threat in the past were brilliantly countered by Aldo's kicking. In such a dominant victory over a dominant champion of the past, the questions are now being asked whether Aldo has any challengers at 145 pounds.
I suppose the WEC may throw former UFC fighter Manny Gamburyan in the mix after his knockout of former WEC champion Mike Brown, but does Gamburyan really stand a chance? Has Aldo cleared out the division? Is he truly going to be one of the most dominant champions in mixed martial arts?
It's a little early to say, but the prospect of Aldo moving down to bantamweight and up to lightweight is very intriguing. We could be on the verge of seeing a legend in the making if he manages to crush the 135 pound champion and be a real threat to the UFC's lightweight crown. Time will tell, but Aldo looks like he's already lived up to the hype.
Benson Henderson took another step forward in securing himself as one of the top ten lightweights in the world as he finished off challenger Donald Cerrone in only 1:57 seconds via a guillotine choke. Their previous battle at WEC 43 went the distance, and many fans had tabbed this match-up as being a similar affair with both men dishing out their fair share of damage over the course of 25 minutes. Unfortunately, Cerrone was overwhelmed from the beginning of the fight.
Photo by Jon Kopaloff, Getty Images
The most noticeable difference was the improved strength and clinch tactics that Henderson showed in this fight. He looked a bit bigger in bulk for this fight, and his clinch abilities seemed to benefit from the added strength he accumulated since their last showdown. If he can continue to improve his tactics, he'll be a very dangerous fighter in the UFC when the lightweight merge happens. Henderson's scrambling tactics and pace could be very dangerous for some of the high-level wrestlers in the UFC's lightweight division.
- Manny Gamburyan's knockout of Mike Brown was easily the upset of the evening for most fans. While some fans felt Gamburyan might be a threat in wrestling Brown to the floor and smothering him from top control, Gamburyan proved that he can be a knockout threat after blasting Brown with a counter right in a close quarters exchange. The win should put him into title contention against Jose Aldo.
- Shane Roller proved me wrong in a big way on Saturday night as he easily tied up Anthony Njokuani and wrestled him to the floor. Roller has always had some pretty bad striking, but Njokuani didn't unleash a barrage of strikes as Roller moved in for the takedown. Once on the ground, Njokuani looked to be completely out of his element. Solid victory for Roller, and he should begin hearing his name in contention talks down the road.
- Scott Jorgensen did exactly what he needed to do to defeat nemesis Antonio Banuelos in a rematch of their WEC 41 bout that gave Banuelos the win in a controversial split decision. In a somewhat similar fight, Banuelos moved well and out punched Jorgensen in the opening round, but Jorgensen landed some downing shots in the second and third round to overwhelm Banuelos and take an unanimous decision victory. Jorgensen should be in line for the next title shot at 135.
- Chan Sung Jung vs. Leonard Garcia was the most epic brawl in the history of brawling. One might say Jung was slightly more technical in his straighter punches in the fight, but some of the exchanges were straight out of Rocky. Garcia's overhand rights and left and Jung's granite chin and iron will impressed the capacity crowd and anyone watching at home. It was truly a 'Fight of the Night' winner, and we hadn't even seen the pay-per-view yet.
- On a side note, Chan Sung Jung was the victim of judges not being able to see the action. Huge looping combinations and exchanges might have looked good to the eye, but Jung's landing ratio was around 7 or 8 to Garcia's one land in those high energy exchanges. Jung was robbed of a win bonus in this fight, and it's sad because it was evident to nearly everyone at home that Jung out struck Garcia in the final frame.
- Anthony Pettis is an interesting prospect at 155. He's only 23 years of age, and he has some huge power, good striking, and a very active guard. For me, the active guard is always one of those attractive qualities in a young fighter that I like to see because it signals that the fighter is always wanting to be dangerous in any situation. Pettis has that quality, and he used it brilliantly to submit Karalexis via triangle choke.
- Brad Pickett's takedowns have improved dramatically since his days in Cage Rage. He was an absolute monster in taking down Demetrious Johnson, but Johnson is probably going to be a better suited fighter at 125 pounds. He's speedy and powerful, but he didn't seem to rock Pickett at any point in the fight. Kudos to the improvement Pickett has shown from his American Top Team training.
- Chad Mendes used his NCAA wrestling credentials and raw power to overwhelm a very unlucky Anthony Morrison. Morrison has drawn one of the best WEC fighters in Mike Brown and one of the best up-and-comers in Chad Mendes in his two fights with the promotion. He looks to have some potential, but he's really running into some brick walls against the bulkier featherweights. Mendes will need to work on his hands as he moves up in competition, but he's looking good so far.
- Tyler Toner was a +280 underdog against Brandon Visher. Oddsmakers apparently forgot that Toner was brought in to lose to Shootboxing champion Kenichi Ogata, but instead knocked him out cold. Toner is no joke, and I hope some of you filled your wallets on that line.
- Last but not least -- Takeya Mizugaki out wrestled and out punches Rani Yahya on his way to an unanimous decision victory.