Tonight, the UFC’s little brother strikes again. This, of course, refers to the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) 51 card featuring the featherweight title match-up between the champion “Junior” Jose Aldo (17-1) and “Pitbull” Manny Gamburyan (11-4). This bout is touted as the main event but has all but been forgotten in light of another main card bout, a grudge rematch between “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (15-3) and Jamie Varner (16-3). As has become the norm, the WEC has put together an action packed card full of former TUF competitors, former title holders and contenders, UFC veterans, and all around crowd pleasers. This card promises to be full of fireworks and, more than likely, several exciting finishes. It wouldn’t even be surprising if there’s at least one candidate for Fight of the Year by the end of the night. After putting on a very lackluster card on Saturday with UFC 119, Zuffa may want to pay close attention to their smaller promotion and take notes on how to make on a successful and exciting card out of lesser known talent.
This is arguably one of the best cards a fan could ask for without having to pay. Earlier this year the WEC took its first steps into the world of Pay-Per-View with WEC 48: Aldo vs. Faber. Six of the fighters featured on that card will be fighting on tonight’s card, including both participants of the early candidate for Fight of the Year “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung (10-2) and Leonard Garcia (18-5-1). However, all of the focus seems to be on the long awaited grudge match between Cerrone and Varner. Those casual fans who turn off the TV following the hate filled battle between the “Cowboy” and his arch-rival will be in for quite a shock when they learn that the main event they had all but written off was the most exciting bout of the night.
Styles make the fights and that is exactly why the bout between Aldo and Gamburyan is a shoe-in for Fight of the Night honors. On one hand we have the Brazilian KO machine Jose Aldo da Silva Oliveira Junior. His brutal brand of offensive kickboxing has left a trail of unconscious victims stretching back over three years. Aldo has knocked out every opponent he has faced in the WEC with only one exception. As far as styles go, they don’t come much more exciting. His opponent, “Pitbull” Manny Gamburyan, is an Armenian Judo specialist and cousin to “The Heat” Karo Parisyan (18-5). He is undefeated as a featherweight and has shown a tenacity that is all but unrivaled in the WEC. The result is one of the most exciting clinch battles in MMA. Jose will constantly seek to land knees and elbows as he breaks the clinch to throw his deadly hands. Manny will seek to take advantage of the openings those strikes provide and throw Aldo to the floor in order to snatch the quick submission. Either way, there is no chance of the wrestler’s lay-n-pray tactic interfering with the entertainment value of this fight and both men are known to be both aggressive and possessing of greater than average stamina.
The bottom line: don’t write off the main event as a subtext to the ultimate grudge match, because it has more potential to steal the show than any fight on an action packed card.