Thursday, March 22, 2007

Zuffa gambles on WEC event Saturday

By Matt Maxson

In December 2006, Zuffa Inc., the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, continued its hostile takeover of the Mixed Martial Arts world by acquiring the endeavor, World Extreme Cagefighting.

Promoted as a recluse for smaller weight classes, WEC is entering its second event under the new leadership and is looking to set aside the embarrassing post-match events of its last contest.

On January 20, 2007, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, not even a month after Zuffa’s acquiring of the venture, WEC 25 was held touting two championship bouts and nine total contests.

The event, though deemed a success, had a trying epilogue for the two fighters defeated in the title bouts of the night. Joe Pearson and Kit Cope, fighting at Featherweight and Lightweight respectively, each tested positive for banned substances at the conclusion of the contest, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission - Pearson for marijuana, and Cope for boldenone, an anabolic steroid.

A veteran of that event, Urijah Faber (17-1-0), the person who handed Pearson his loss, will once again trot out to defend his title against undefeated featherweight Dominic Cruz (9-0-0).

Faber, a native of Davis, California, will be fighting in only his third WEC event, never has he left the cage without a belt. His only loss to date has come at the hands of Tyson Griffin, a UFC Lightweight.

Faber began his career at UC-Davis on the school’s wrestling squad where, after his freshman year, he was awarded a scholarship wrestling at 133 pounds. A national standout and Division I qualifier, Faber’s interest in contact sports, primarily fighting, lifted him to the world of MMA.

Since then he has decimated almost all competition, but where do fighters like Faber go from here? Many view WEC as a training ground for UFC hopefuls, ones whose names aren’t on par with Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz or Randy Couture. For Faber and others in the Featherweight and Bantamweight classes in WEC, there is no place in the UFC.

WEC is to UFC as Arena Football is to the NFL. Though one does see names less recognizable, and no blockbusting contests, one might be treated to a smaller field of play in the form decreased sized of fighting area in the cage, and a quicker upbeat tempo.

As the first fight jitters are out of the way for the promoters, WEC will look to settle into its groove this Saturday night when it plays host to its second event at the Hard Rock since its acquisition.

There Faber will once again defend his crown in the Co-Main Event of the night, and Zuffa will defend its acquisition of WEC.


1 comment:

wrongheaded said...

WEC can become an awesome organization. Just look at the competitive fights on the current WEC card. A bunch of hungry fighters looking to make the big time UFC events. It will be a bunch of wars.