Last Thursday was the final WEC card, and in typical fashion, it delivered. We saw two great fights–a potential “Fight of the Year” candidate in the main event, and a co-main event that confirmed how good the talent is in the Bantamweight division.
We’ll start with the little guys, where Dominick Cruz became the first-ever UFC Bantamweight Champion with a one-sided win over Scott Jorgensen. Jorgensen is no slouch, but he was man-handled by the taller Cruz. I had the chance to go to Cruz’s training camp in the days leading up to the fight, and I was amazed at the power he generated in both his punches and kicks. When I interviewed Dominick for the Clinch Gear Podcast, he said he was convinced that conditioning would play a decisive role in the outcome, and he was right. Cruz sparred eight hard rounds on the day I saw him, and he looked like he had eight more in him if needed. “The Dominator” used his height and reach advantage to keep Jorgensen on the outside, and in the end it was just too much for the smaller fighter to overcome.
With the win, Cruz improved to 17-1, with his only loss taking place nearly four years ago to Urijah Faber at 145 pounds. It just so happens that Faber recently dropped to the Bantamweight division after spending the majority of his career at Featherweight. There are reports that Dana White is considering Cruz and Faber as coaches for the next season of “The Ultimate Fighter” with a rematch next summer. This makes sense since both guys are not only tough fighters but extremely well spoken, which is important in the world of television. It also would be a great way to introduce Bantamweights to the worldwide UFC audience.
Most people thought the main event between Ben Henderson and Anthony Pettis had the makings for a great fight, but I wonder how many thought the final WEC fight would go down as one of the best ever? The momentum swings were off the charts, and the highlight reel wall walk kick that Pettis delivered in the last minute of the fifth and final round has to be seen to be believed.
I am writing this on the Monday after the fight, and Dan Henderson happened to be in the Clinch Gear office this morning. Dan had not had a chance to watch the fight, so I wanted to see his reaction to the Pettis head kick. Not surprisingly, Henderson was impressed. Fans know it was a great move, but when guys like Stephan Bonner, who was calling the fight for Versus, Dan and others who make their living in the cage are left slack-jawed, you know it’s one of the great highlights in MMA history.
It seems like a fitting close to the WEC story, one which may not have featured the biggest names but always left you satisfied. I hope the guys who made their mark in the WEC get that same chance in the UFC promotional. My guess is that Dana White and Joe Silva have big plans for the little guys, which should make for plenty of highlight reel moments in 2011.