Part II of my "Does anyone even care?" WEC 51 series, here are the previews for the main card. How good is the maincard? Well the show opens up with with a fantastic fight between former featherweight title challenger Leonard "The Mexican Zombie" Garcia against Mark Hominick and ends with Jose Aldo fighting Manny Gamburyan for the Featherweight belt. The fact that there is no marketing around this card is mind blowing. The fact that normal Zuffa press outlets like Yahoo and Heavy.com haven't posted any stories is even more so. In three days Zuffa will put on arguably the most stacked WEC card, with the only comparable one in recent memory being Aldo vs. Faber, a card that lacked the WEC brand. WEC 51 is strong enough to be the brand's second foray into PPV and the fact that we are seeing it for free makes us very fortunate as MMA fans.
Leonard Garcia is probably the most fun fighter ever. I can't remember a fight of his that didn't remind me of a dust cloud type fight you'd often see in cartoons. He burst onto the scene with a barnburner of a fight with Roger Huerta at lightweight in the UFC in a fight that made both fighter's careers. Mark Hominick has quietly been making a name for himself in the WEC as a member of Team Tomkins. Both fighters are highly entertaining, albeit with differing styles. Leonard Garcia is a balls to the wall, throw bombs till the other fighter isn't standing while Hominick is a more classic kick boxer. This fight is a great way to start out the night and I'd expect fireworks. My prediction is that if Leonard can bait Mark into a slugfest, he walks away with a nice KO win, but Hominick is usually smart enough to not caught up in such fights. I like Garcia though as he's more proven at the top level.
The other half of "Brothers Zombie" takes on TUF veteran George Roop. Chan Sung Jung impressed many American fight fans with his war with Leonard Garcia. In a decision that could have gone either way, he walked away as the loser, if only on his record. He now gets another shot at impressing the WEC crowd with a fight against George Roop. Roop had a decent showing on The Ultimate Fighter as a member of Team Mir, and like most fighters that season, suffered from a lack of air time because of Junnie Browning. George Roop is an extremely lanky fighter who doesn't do anything particularly great but is decently well rounded. This fight was most likely booked as another Jung highlight bout but Roop has the ground game to pose some threats to the Korean if the fight does hit the mat. I'm picking the more proven commodity and going with the zombie.
Miquel Torres has hit some hard times recently. Once touted as the best Bantamweight fighter and arguable top ten pound for pound, he is now faced with a must win situation after dropping his last two fights. His record is a combination of fights with unknown fighters and top competition. Since his loss to Brian Bowles, hie hasn't had the same aggressive style that one made him a fan favorite. Charlie Velencia is an extremely talented fighter who just never is able to step up. Zuffa had big plans for him when they first purchased the WEC, sending Charlie on a media tour with Urijah Faber as the Hispanic face of the organization. Unfortunately, he has been disappointing and those plans never came to fruition. This really is a fight between two former faces of the organization. I think Torres should take this by being more well rounded, but two losses are tough for a fighter to mentally come back from.
The first bout was marred with controversy. Donald Cerrone is a terminator, a fighter who may not always win, but will always send his opponent to the hospital for some sort of medical treatment. He has an aggressive submission game and a nonstop "in your grill" kickboxing style. If athletic commission testing had the capabilities, Cerrone would test positive for being a Skynet T-800. Jamie Varner is a completely different fighter. He has an incredibly underrated wrestling game with fantastic boxing. Unfortunately for Varner, he also like to complain about anything and everything regarding his opponents after fighting them. His most famous line "I came to fight, he came to grapple" after losing to Benson Henderson, showed that he hasn't matured as a fighter, and doesn't take losing particularly well. I like Cerrone in the rematch but it really depends on if he comes in mentally strong. He tapped to Ben Henderson in the rematch extremely quickly without fighting off the submission attempt. If that same fighter shows up on Thursday, I fully expect Jamie Varner to do the worm across the WEC logo.
Part III will have a write up of the championship bout between Jose Aldo and Manny Gamburyan.