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WEC 53 Recap and Analysis: Sad Swan Song For the Little Promotion That Could

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UFC top contender Anthony Pettis who is my new hero. What a great man.
UFC top contender Anthony Pettis who is my new hero. What a great man.

The swan song for our beloved World Extreme Cagefighting was a bit of a let down, filled with cautious decisions and underwhelming performances. At least it seemed that way until Anthony Pettis walked on air, if not on water, en route to dethroning Ben Henderson for the WEC Lightweight title. Pettis won the most important fight in WEC history, earning a title belt that can immediately go down into a box in the basement, but more importantly a title shot in the UFC against the winner of Frankie Edgar-Gray Maynard at UFC 125 next month. My thoughts:

  • Please don't indignantly defend this show by discussing how awesome you heard the prelims were. Nothing could be less relevant than a fight they didn't even bother to put on television. If there was exciting back and forth action, that's great for the few thousand in the building. For me, watching at home, it's meaningless. I wish they had done a better job selecting the fights for this final show. Hardcore fans everywhere were salivating at the idea of Ivan Menjivar returning to take on Brad Pickett. But instead, we were offered a tepid affair between Kamal Shalorus and Bart Palaszewski. A strange decision from the get go.
  • Donald Cerrone struggled mightily with Chris Horodecki, a fighter who looks like he belongs in the bantamweight division. He also looks like he belongs in an Algebra class, not a pro cage. Cerrone has long been a WEC favorite. They've spent more time promoting him than any fighter on the roster not named Urijah Faber. I wonder if they regret that choice when the UFC "star" he calls out is Cole Miller. Worse still, that's a fight he's likely to lose.
  • I won't miss WEC's broadcast team for even a second. The pre and post game shows look like they are a product of public access television but they can't hold a candle to the horrible performances of Todd Harris. In the Cerrone fight he actually advocated that the referee stand the fighters up - while Cerrone was actively in the process of tapping Horodecki out with a triangle. Amazing.
  • Dominick Cruz looks like he's been on a special workout plan. It must have worked wonders, as he manhandled Scott Jorgenson for five rounds. My sense, however, is that glory will be fleeting for many of these guys. I think there are a ton of fighters in the 135-155 pound nexus that are fighting up a weight class right now. Once they start dropping in weight, the current crop of WEC standouts will start dropping like flies. In three years, it's hard to picture many of these guys being players in their respective divisions.
  • Anthony Pettis and Ben Henderson made a last minute claim for your Fight of the Year ballots. This was an evenly matched and closely contested affair. I loved Pettis and his ability to land smartly with his punches and catch Henderson coming in. The wall walk kick is already legendary. It was less Matrix and more Peter Parker, but either way was a thing of beauty. Here's the catch though: did anyone else get the impression we were looking at Bellator's 2013 tournament entrants rather than future UFC stars? Pettis has a chance at least - Henderson is just too sloppy right now in every area to thrive in the Octagon.

I wish we had gotten a better show to remember the WEC by. This was a disappointment, perhaps unfairly so, and mostly because of the high standards the promotion has set over the years. It's been great watching all these talented and relentless little athletes ply their trade over the last couple of years. I love that the final moment was a highlight worthy of the all-time highlight reel. As a fan, I'm sad to see them move on to pay per view. But it's time.