File Photo: Sherdog.com
The Weekly Wrap walks readers through the last seven days in MMA, recapping and putting into context the week's top story, important news and notable quotes.
The leg kicks of one of the sport's most fearful fighters crashed the party for Urijah Faber and his Sacramento public on April 24, as World Extreme Cagefighting’s first pay-per-view was capped by a dismantling of its preeminent star.
A live atmosphere at Arco Arena that rivaled that of any UFC event saw a sea of “No Way Jose” t-shirts and pent-up anticipation for the entrance of Faber, who rose to prominence in the WEC, a secondary cable property for Zuffa LLC. But in a performance that defined taking the crowd out of a fight, featherweight champion Jose Aldo stood firm and dismantled Faber with stinging leg kicks and jabs toward a lopsided unanimous decision. Aldo landed 139 strikes to Faber’s 25, according to FightMetric.
The loss, which left nasty bruising on Faber’s lead leg and caused his cornerman to carry him to the stool between rounds three and four, was so emphatic that a sports editor for Faber’s hometown newspaper, The Sacramento Bee, said he should retire from the sport. Faber was given a six-month medical suspension for damage to his left knee and thigh. Faber posted photos to his Twitter throughout the week displaying his swollen, purplish limb.
The event, titled “Aldo vs. Faber” with nary a trace of the WEC initials -- even fighters’ gloves were flat blue with no logo -- appeared to be the most lucrative in the WEC’s history. UFC President Dana White, who was campaigned for the event for a week, announced an attendance of 14,144 for a $1 million gate, which would both be WEC records. Official numbers reported by the California State Athletic Commission listed 12,555 fans in attendance paying $954,635. That is biggest gate in WEC history though lower attendance than WEC 41 (Faber vs. Mike Brown II) and WEC 34 (Faber vs. Pulver I), which both also took place at Arco Arena.
Heavy.com reported that early cable estimates have the event at doing between 150,000 and 200,000 orders on pay-per-view, an impressive number for an event without the UFC name attached to it. White told MMAJunkie.com that the reason for the exclusion of the WEC name was because the promotion is considered a property of the Versus cable network, thus complicating promotion on the multiple rival cable stations like Spike TV and MTV2, which aired a “Countdown” special. The number would be above what would be considered a financial success, and approaches some of the lower UFC pay-per-view numbers so far this year (UFC 110 did between 210 and 240K buys).
Priced at $45, the revenue for the show likely was higher than for any WEC event. The event received widespread critical acclaim. In addition to commanding the cage, Aldo commanded the night’s highest disclosed payday, earning $40,000 for the victory. Faber was listed as earning $28,000, though likely received a cut of pay-per-view revenue. White had said WEC 48 would see the highest paydays for WEC fighters to date. The performance bonuses, typically $10,000 in WEC, were upped to $65,000, making a big difference to several fighters’ bottom lines.
Among the recipients were lightweight champion Benson Henderson, who made impressively short work of Donald Cerrone in a rematch of Sherdog.com’s 2009 “Fight of the Year.” Henderson’s first-round guillotine choke was dubbed the night’s best submission, and added $65K to his $26,000 payday. It’s not clear who is next for the champion, who entered Sherdog.com’s Top 10 lightweight rankings with the victory. Shane Roller put in his bid for Henderson when he submitted Anthony Njokuani earlier on the card with a rear-naked choke in the first round. However, Henderson told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show that he’s getting married Aug. 20 and won’t be back to defend the belt until some time after that.
Also making title shot bids were featherweight Manvel Gamburyan and bantamweight Scott Jorgensen. Gamburyan knocked out Mike Thomas Brown with a short right hook in tight at the 2:22 mark, a shot that earned the “Ultimate Fighter 5” finalist a $65K best knockout bonus on top of his $36,000 payday. It was the first time Brown has had his lights turned off in the cage. Jorgensen avenged a very close split decision loss to Antonio Banuelos last year. After a rough first round that saw Banuelos landing strikes and in command, Jorgenson began finding his straight right, putting Banuelos down in rounds two and three, bloodying his nose. Jorgensen got the 29-28 nod on all scorecards.
The night will perhaps be most remembered for the front-runner for “Fight of the Year,” a sloppy but wildly entertaining throwdown between Leonard Garcia and Chan Sung Jung. Garcia took the split decision in a fight that saw no less than 177 strikes fly with dramatic recoveries from nearly every damaging blow. FightMetric gave the overall nod to Jung for landing more strikes, as did the live crowd, who loudly booed the reading of the decision. There was talk of a rematch.
The bout headlined the preliminary fight special on Spike TV, and served as an ideal appetizer for the pay-per-view. The special did a 0.8 rating and for an average audience of 1 million viewers, lower than the UFC specials of its type have drawn. The audience nearly doubled -- from 832,000 to 1.5 million viewers -- during the course of the Garcia/Jung fight, The Wrestling Observer reported.
The preliminary special also aired Anthony Pettis’ second-round triangle choke win over Alex Karalexis and Chad Mendes’ first-round guillotine submission over Anthony Morrison.
Also picking up wins at WEC 48 were Brad Pickett (unanimous decision over Demetrious Johnson); Takeya Mizugaki (unanimous decision over Rani Yahya) and Tyler Toner (first-round TKO over Brandon Visher). Mizugaki’s win was the only fight not to make air in some form.