PART ONE: Everything Leading up to…
SO… WEC is no more. I know… I know. Things change and it’s not always easy and it’s not always what you want but sometimes you just have to let it go and just remember the good times because, well, you have no choice. I’ll always remember our last night together, WEC. Even though I knew it was goodbye, I couldn’t wait to see you. Then suddenly, you were there , in my bedroom on my TV as I drank cheap wine and tweeted smart ass comments as if nothing was different and this wasn’t our last night together.
It went by so fast that it was all kind of a blur to be honest. I remember Bart Palaszewski and Kamal Shalorus having a decent scrap and thought it was a close fight. I gave the edge to Bart for more effective striking but I wouldn’t call the W going to Kamal a robbery of the Nam Phan order.
Donald “Don’t Mispronounce My Last Name” Cerrone fought Chris “I look like I’m playing hooky from Jr. High” Horodecki. Horodecki was actually getting the better of the stand up despite “Cowboy” Cerrone being the taller, reachier guy. Is “reachier” a word? Not according to spell check – but spell check can suck it! In fact, I’m not even sure Cerrone has the longer reach… he’s gotta, right? Hold on… let me text Mallory rather than look it up myself – much more fun. After all, you’re not reading this for facts, you’re reading this for awesome – which may or may not involve facts. Let’s see what our esteemed editor says about the Cerrone reach question… Okay… we’ll come back to that. So, the point is “The Polish Hammer” is a nickname that surely makes you think of Horodecki’s penis whether you want to or not – personally, I’d rather not. No, wait… the point is Horodecki was doing pretty well standing and he decides to take it to the ground only to accomplish nothing other than getting a couple of submission attempts thrown at him. So, you’d think that either Chris or his corner would say, “Hey! Let’s keep this fight standing!” Yet, in round two, Horodecki bafflingly goes for another takedown and not-so-bafflingly gets submitted via Triangle Choke. Let’s recap lessons Chris Horodecki has learned this year:
1. Stick with what’s working
2. Don’t turn your back on a guy who can easily kick you in your head.
Addendum: Mallory’s answer to “Does Cerrone have a longer reach than Horodecki?” is: “Don’t know Horodecki’s reach. Cerrone’s is 73” and since Cerrone is 4” taller and with more narrow shoulders, he has more functional reach than Horodecki.” – In other words: “Yeah.”
Okay, lets move back in time (on the WEC 53 card) but forward in time (in when I saw it) to the Dan “Defender of Capitalism & Social Media Dynasty” Downes vs. Tie Quan “Seriously guys, I don’t speak ANY English” Zhang fight. Now, of course I’m rooting for Danny Boy since we’re totally interweb BFFs.
Zhang’s real nickname is “The Mongolian Wolf”. Some say he was raised by wolves, others say he trains out in the forest with wild wolves. Yet another legend says that when the moon is full, he changes… into a silk shirt and skinny tie and heads to a Mongolian karaoke bar where he does a dead-on rendition of Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry like the Wolf” – not sure how intimidating that one is… What do you think?
Now we know, coming into this bout, Downes’ pro record was 6-1, having lost his last minute replacement WEC debut to Chris “Phallic Nickname” Horodecki. What is Wolfie’s record coming into this fight? According to MMA Gospel, 8-0. According to Sherdog, 12-0. According to the WEC’s Tale of the Tape 17-0. Maybe he won a few fights after landing in Arizona? Either way, everyone seemed to agree that he’d never lost. At least not until he met a certain scrappy pasty white Irish kid who will drop a Robespierre reference on ya after he whoops your ass. I’m not going to give you the play-by-play of this fight since it’ll take too long but you should really just go to UFC.com and order it for $2. I’ll put it this way, I fucking KNEW Dan won and yet some of those early submissions he got out of, as well as a later Armbar still had me squirming on the edge of my seat. You guys should also check out the interview I did with Dan. I’ll have to interview him again soon and talk about the fight as well as his teammate Anthony Pettis’ becoming the champ. I’ll give him a break and let him enjoy the holidays and saving America from the Mongolian Communists.
Danny Boy, Anthony, and the Berry in Team Meatberry, Pat Barry, all train under Duke Roufus. Let’s just say, Duke, you’ve gotta stop churning out these boring, safe, lay-and-pray fighters, dude. Haha.
Moving on to the bantamweight title fight for two belts, the last ever WEC Bantamweight Championship belt and the first ever UFC Bantamweight Championship belt. It was Scotty “Young Guns” Jorgensen vs. Dominick Cruz. I was rooting for Scotty. I like him. He’s a tough, exciting fighter and a likable guy. Cruz, not as much. Don’t dislike him but not a “fan”. Anyway, Cruz is fast as hell and has amazing cardio. Scotty obviously wanted to crowd Cruz against the fence and use dirty boxing or try to take him down and submit him. Aside from maybe throwing more leg kicks to try and slow Cruz down, Scotty did the best he could. Cruz was just too quick with his hands and footwork and when Scotty did have a few fleeting chances to sink in a choke, Cruz was able to defend fairly effortlessly.
Finally, Ben “Smooth” Henderson vs. Anthony “Showtime” Pettis for the WEC lightweight belt and a title shot for the UFC lightweight belt against the winner of Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. I had no idea who would win this fight. But I was really confident that it would be an awesome fight since these dudes are two of the most exciting lightweight fighters in the game. I was right. Talk about fighters with perfect nicknames. Henderson is “Smooth” – his composure under pressure is amazing. The guy never seems panicked or flustered even when he’s in a bad situation. Pettis is “Showtime” – the guy is flashy and unpredictable but also has the rare ability of also being calculated and effective in his flashiness. And really that was the story of the fight: back-and-forth exchanges and so many near-chokes that I can’t believe someone didn’t get choked out in those five rounds. It was an amazing fight that was pretty much up for grabs going into the fifth round… and it was still anyone’s fight with less than a minute left in the fight and then…
PART TWO: The Kick
When I was a child, children were still children. There was no Internet and there weren’t hundreds of cable channels to both educate and inform and overwhelm and jade us. Magic was still real and anything was possible. Computer generated images barely existed yet and cars jumping over shit was about as cool as it got. There was this guy named Evel Knievel who was a professional daredevil. They’d set an hour aside on television to watch this crazy motherfucker jump his motorcycle over the fountain at Caesar’s Palace or launch himself in a rocket over Snake River Canyon. An hour of build up to a jump that took a minute – and it was awesome. Why? Because there weren’t a hundred shows with dozens of stunts, accidents, police chases and shootouts all packed into a half-hour. There wasn’t a YouTube where you could watch this sort of thing on demand ‘til your eyes burned. There wasn’t an infinite amount of media, all competing for our attention.
I remember when I was about ten years old going to a movie theater in Queens while I was staying with my Dad and seeing a Bruce Lee triple feature. It was close to five hours and I stayed for the whole thing. Then on Saturday afternoons, another favorite pastime of my youth was watching something called “Kung Fu Theater” – badly dubbed martial arts films with sped up fight sequences and cheesy overdramatic zooming close-ups. Fuckin’ loved it!
I’m no longer a child but luckily my childhood happened before the information age desensitized us to awesome spectacle and turned us all into jaded ADD brats. And, thankfully, some of that childlike sense of innocent belief and wonder is still there inside me.
So, when in the last minute of a five round title fight that was very close, Anthony “Showtime” Pettis decided to run towards the fence, leap on it and pivot off into a perfectly timed roundhouse kick that landed on to the side of Ben Henderson’s face you can’t tell me it wasn’t fucking magical. Bruce Lee movies, Kung-Fu Theater, Evel Knievel, all wrapped up in one awesome moment where a dude in a title fight with so much on the line decided to go for something gloriously bold and gutsy and it worked. Like fucking magic.
Sure, there are lots of great moments in MMA over the years but that kick was absolutely one of them and if you wanna piss on that parade, maybe you need to seriously take a step back and wonder if you’re dead inside. Honestly, if as an MMA fan you can’t find giddy joy in a moment like that, what do you find joy in? Nothing? Thought so. Sorry about your bitterness and sadness. Really, I am. Me? I’m gonna go watch that fucking kick again. It’s SO COOL!
WEC NEVER DIE!
If I’ve done my job, you know you want to see it again! Check out this clip by @RubberOnion with a little TMNT action mixed in.