– As always the WEC put on a great show. Tough it’s good news that they are merging with the UFC, I must admit to being a little sad to think there’s only one of these action packed events left to look forward to before this era ends and a new one begins.
– The big winners tonight were Team Alpha Male with Urjiah Faber, Chad Mendes and Joseph Benavidez all putting on impressive performances to end their WEC careers and serve notice that they are going to be a major force to be reckoned with in the UFC.
– Urijah Faber looked good in his bantamweight debut, retaining the speed he’s become renowned for and for a change actually looking bigger than his opponent. It’s hard to say how much punching power he’s going to have at bantamweight but there’s no doubt he still possesses the killer instinct, pouncing on Mizugaki, sinking in the RNC and not letting go until the referee hauled him off.
Speaking of which, referee Josh Rosenthal couldn’t have been any later with the stoppage. To be fair the two fighters were pressed up against the cage awkwardly but it looked like the Japanese fighter may have been out for as much as 10 seconds before the fight was stopped. Thankfully Mizugaki woke up and seemed OK, but it got a little scary there for a moment.
– No doubt Zuffa execs will have breathed a sigh of relief that Faber got through this fight unscathed and now they’ll hope that his ‘superstar’ status in the WEC can translate across to the UFC. With the likes of Dominick Cruz and Miguel Torres as potential next opponents they certainly have plenty to work with.
– Faber’s team-mate Chad Mendes also put in a good performance, particularly in the later rounds where we finally started to loosen up a little with his striking and showed off some acrobatic, crowd pleasing wrestling moves.
As a side note – I actually thought Javier Mendez one the first though with his active rubber guard from the bottom, but the judges saw it differently, giving Mendes the nod 30-27.
– After a highlight reel head kick earned him a TKO victory Erik Koch is now 11-1 and is perfectly poised to make a big impression in the UFC in 2011. Still just 22 years old he undoubtedly has a bright future ahead of him in the sport.
– Joseph Benavidez may have met his match in Dominick Cruz, but he showed again tonight that he’s an absolute terror for the rest of the division to deal with. Submitting a high level BJJ practitioner like Wagnney Fabiano is no joke and shows that no one is safe from his nasty guillotine chokes.
The thing is, what do the UFC do with him now? He’s lost twice to Cruz, won’t fight his team-mate Faber and has wiped the floor with a number of other top contenders. The sooner they install a 125lb weight class the better.
– Speaking of a potential flyweight division, Demetrious Johnson would be another terrific addition if it ever becomes a reality. In the mean time though his impressive win over Damacio Page tonight shows that he’s going to be a real handful at bantamweight as well.
‘Mighty Mouse’s’ cardio in particular stood out in this fight, and defying logic it seemed almost as if he was getting better and stronger the longer the fight went on. The fact that he also seemed to hurt Page on the feet before finally finishing him on the mat was also impressive and indicates he can generate big power from his small frame.
– Finally, a special mention to the ‘Fight Of The Night’ which came in the prelims between Mackens Semerzier and Cub Swanson. Both fighters did well in this extremely close encounter but I came away particularly impressed with Swanson who looked improved with crisp striking from all kinds of different angles, terrific head movement and good takedowns.
I see him very much as the Chris Lytle of the featherweight division – not necessarily a major title contender but someone who always puts on exciting fights and picking up his fair share of bonus awards as a result. If he continues to put on this kind of performance in the UFC then he’ll quickly become a fan favorite.