When I wrote and conducted my MMA mid-year report card on the four major U.S. promotions, UFC, Strikeforce, WEC and Bellator, there was only one that I graded with an A, albeit it was an A-. That promotion was not the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but rather World Extreme Cagefighting.
The WEC, while not as old as the UFC and not as well known among casual fans, has established itself as a top flight promotion that produces action packed cards featuring world class fighters. Yet, with a major event coming up this Wednesday, #50 in their history, I feel they are not getting the publicity and love they deserve and people are sleeping on the little guys.
The reason I say little is because the WEC focuses on the lighter weight classes only. Their organization currently carries fighters in the lightweight (155lbs.), featherweight (145lbs.) and bantamweight (135lbs.) divisions. However, the fighters they carry on their roster are without a doubt some of the best in the world.
With an exciting line-up of fights on tap, headlined by the WEC bantamweight championship, this week's event is sure to live up to the standard they've developed for themselves. In the main event, you have bantamweight champion Dominic Cruz (15-1, 6 KO's 1 sub) in his first title defense against the very tough Joseph Benavidez (12-1, 3 KO's 7 subs). Ironically, Benavidez's only loss is via decision to none other than Cruz a little over a year ago last summer.
Since then all Benavidez has done is win two fights in a row against top flight Rani Yahya via KO and then submitting former champion and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert Miguel Torres back in March. Cruz meanwhile has steamrolled through all his competition, defeating former champ Brian Bowles to win the belt and sustaining his only loss well over three years ago against former WEC posterboy Urijah Faber in the featherweight division.
If that weren't enough to peak your interest, the co-main event is a #1 contender's match in the lightweight division featuring former 3x wrestling All-American Shane Roller (8-2, 2 KO's 5 subs) against exciting Anthony Pettis (9-1, 5 KO's, 5 subs) hence the nickname 'Showtime'. These two will be fighting to win the right to meet lightweight champion Ben 'Smooth' Henderson for the title.
Featuring ten fights in all, WEC 50 has a couple of other intriguing match-ups on the main card including a featherweight tilt between tough Cub Swanson (14-3 4 KO's 7 subs) and undefeated Chad Mendes (7-0, 2 KO's 2 subs). Also, at bantamweight it's Scott 'Young Guns' Jorgensen (10-3, 1 KO, 4 subs) fighting veteran Brad 'One Punch' Pickett (19-4, 6 KO's, 9 subs) with the winner probably getting the winner of Cruz/Benavidez for the title.
So with this very exciting fight card only a day away, why is it not being talked about? UFC 118 is still 11 days away and all you hear about is the rematch between Frankie Edgar and BJ Penn or the MMA vs. Boxing match-up featuring Randy Couture and James Toney. Granted, those four names hold a lot of weight, but don't sleep on the WEC this week.
This is the organization, under the leadership of its President Reed Harris (pictured above), that has given us "hands down" the fight of the year in Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung. It is also the organization that features without question one of the top three pound for pound fighters in the world in featherweight champion Jose Aldo and finally they always deliver.
Ask any MMA fan when was the last time they saw a boring WEC card and I don't know if you'll get an answer other than "honestly, I don't remember." With lightning speed at these weight classes, punches and kicks flying, slick submissions and cardio for days, the WEC is pound for pound on par with any organization in the world. On top of all this, you get to see the fights for free live on the Versus network. People are sleeping on the little guys, but I'm not; don't sleep.