A week and a half. That’s all the time that has passed since the sporting world (well ok, not the whole sporting world by any stretch of the imagination, but definitely my sporting world) was flipped onto its head. A week and a half ago Dana White gave an exclusive interview to Ariel Helwani announcing the long anticipated merging of the WEC into the UFC’s money making machine. The blogosphere then went on to respond with an emphatic “Fuck Yes!” And rightfully so. This merger not only pads the disproportionately light wallets of elite featherweights and bantamweights, but raises the prestige of the much ignored lower weightclasses. All in all, the merger was entirely great news, but that doesn’t mean that nothing was lost.
Last night, the death of the WEC was really rammed home for me as I read a blog post from Chan-Sung Jung translated by Tri-Costa. In it, the Korean Zombie poetically (seriously, why are Japanese based fighters so much better at expressing themselves than their western counterparts) explains that his zombie style of fighting is finally done, proving that internet nerds everywhere were right. All it takes to kill a zombie is to destroy its brain. In Jung’s case the deathblow came in the form of a vicious head-kick from George Roop. Apparently there was no need for a Dan Henderson-esqe double-tap. The Korean Zombie is no more.
I’m sure this won’t stop fans from cheering for Jung with the enthusiasm usually reserved for preteen Justin Bieber fans, but it does help mark the end of an era. The Korean Zombie was exactly one half of the fight that was supposed to become the WEC’s Griffin/Bonnar. In anticipation of writing this article, I watched this fight three times today. In fact, I usually watch it about once a month. It is an absolute slobber knocker of truly epic proportions. The simple fact of the matter is that this fight absolutely never gets old. Garcia and Jung attack each other with the kind of ill intentions unheard of outside of a Carlos Condit fight. It was the kind of action a WEC fan came to expect.
Don’t like that fight? Too sloppy for you? Not technical enough for you? No problem. The WEC was filled with classic action and drama filled fights. What about Uriajah Faber’s second fight with Mike Brown. Despite two broken hands Faber fought and battled through throwing elbows like a mad man only to lose a close decision. Or the first meeting between Benson Henderson and Donald Cerrone. Or what about Miguel Torres’ title defenses against Yoshiro Maeda or Takeya Mizugaki? For those in the know, the WEC provided the best spectating experience in all of sports. And now that’s gone.
Over at Unintelligent Defense, This Red Engine argues that the WEC filled the role Zuffa laid out for it, and in that sense it was a success. The fighters that have impressed us so much over these last few years will finally receive the audience and respect they deserve. I, for one, just wish that they could have achieved those accolades in the smaller blue cage I learned to love. God knows they deserved it. And that’s why I personally will never be able to consider the WEC to be a success.
One thing is certain, I will be throwing a party for the WEC’s last event on December 16, and in true WEC fashion it will only be attended by a thirty pack of High Life and myself.