Joseph Benavidez file photo: Jeff Sherwood | Sherdog.com
World Extreme Cagefighting is pound-for-pound the illest of all mixed martial arts promotions. A lean, mean violence machine, it does nothing but crank out high-quality fights, and just about all of them air on basic cable.
However, even a perfect machine needs some fine tuning every now and then. With that in mind, here are some moves our boys at the WEC need to focus their grind on.
Flyweights. Now. Please.
In one fell swoop, the WEC could easily put together the best flyweight division in the world. It already has Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson with which to start, and something tells me guys like Pat Runez, John Dodson and Alexis Vila will not be hard to land since they are all stuck fighting in regional promotions.
As for Shooto’s considerable contingent of outstanding 125-pound fighters, it’s well known that top-ranked flyweight Jussier “Formiga” da Silva is desperate to fight in America. On Thursday, he signed a multi-fight deal with Tachi Palace Fights in California. Assuming the likes of Shinichi “BJ” Kojima, Mamoru Yamaguchi and Yasuhiro Urushitani are also willing to leave the comforts of home, they could jump to the States for a pay raise. Even the WEC’s modest contracts would be a worthwhile hike over Shooto’s notoriously stingy payroll.
When the WEC tried to make featherweight and bantamweight money-making divisions, it took it a long time to get all of the world’s best talent under one roof. Replicating that feat in the flyweight division would be much easier, and it sets up another move that seems long overdue.
Let Go of the Lightweights
The WEC does not have the card space to support another division, which means one of the other three divisions has to be marked for death. The obvious and correct candidate -- the lightweight class -- could easily be folded into the UFC and, more importantly, free up cash for a flyweight spending spree.
It just does not make any sense for the WEC’s lightweight class to exist anymore since the division is beyond strapped for talent. The UFC snatches up almost every single worthwhile lightweight prospect, while its sister promotion gets the scraps and an occasional diamond in the rough. This has become an untenable situation since the WEC already recycles contenders and throws prospects into the fire, hoping someone comes out unscathed.
There are some quality lightweights in the WEC who are fully capable of holding their own in the UFC, and they would add even more depth and excitement to a division known for both. Assuming the formation of a flyweight division accompanies this move, it seems like a win-win for both of Zuffa’s promotions.
Take a Deep Breath, ‘The California Kid’ Isn’t Going Anywhere
Teaming the hilarious Danny McBride with Urijah Faber’s perpetually affable personality should get someone on the K-Swiss advertising team a fat Christmas bonus this year. Already the organization’s most bankable commodity, Faber’s increasingly mainstream presence seems to have the WEC desperate to get him a title fight.
Here’s a secret someone should tell the folks running the show: stars are stars no matter who they fight. Faber’s rabid fans, especially those in California, would pay good money to watch this man eat sushi while a pack of Penguins perform synchronized dance moves in the background. In other words, there’s no need to line up a new murderers row of opponents for him.
The backend of Faber’s run at featherweight was low-lighted by a brutal KO and two five-round beatings that left him a mangled mess. Give the man some time to regain his bearings by feeding him a middling opponent or two; it’s not like anyone will lose interest in him if he busts out some insane offense on a random mid-carder. A potential pay-per-view-worthy bantamweight title fight anchored by Faber will always be there for the making, and the folks running the show at the WEC should start acting like they know that better than anyone else.
Cheap Shots & Quick Thoughts
Someone Get Me Some Damn Prelims: Between Maciej Jewtuszko’s spinning back elbow on Anthony Njokuani and Javier Vazquez manning up at Mackens Semerzier’s expense, there was a world of must-see preliminary MMA that never got to see the light of day. Whether it’s in the form of a televised prelim special or some sort of live Internet streaming, the WEC needs to find a way to capitalize on its consistently excellent undercards.
Someone Get Stephan Bonner a Damn Tie: Call me old-fashioned, but I was under the impression that stepping inside a commentary booth came with standards. Rocking an untucked plaid button-down with the sleeves rolled up is something one does on casual Fridays, not on national television.
Someone Get Hatsu Hioki and Michihiro Omigawa in the Damn WEC: Seriously.
Follow Tomas Rios on Twitter as he attempts to determine whether or not it is Numberwang at www.twitter.com/Tomas_Rios.