(Thanks for the, uh, memories? PicProps: CagedInsider)
Tonight we finally find out what happens on the series finale of the WEC (Spoiler alert: They all die and go to heaven together). Obviously, trying to cook the nine-year history of a promotion that became synonymous with mind-blowing action down to fewer than a half dozen highlights is totally impossible. Certainly we’ll have omitted some of your favorites here. Be sure to let us know which ones we forgot in the comments. As if we had to remind you.
Also, props to our man Ariel Helwani for furnishing most of the following vid clips in his own WEC retrospective over on Versus.com. Now here’s a quick look at some of the moments we’ll think fondly upon in future days, when we put on our Sarah McLachlan mix tape and dreamily stare at faded photographs of Brittany Palmer and Todd Harris, trying not to wonder how we’ll ever go on.
Chris Leben collapses Mike Swick like goddamn structural engineer
(VidProps: YouTube/jessemoore14. Apologies for the Sum 41 soundtrack. It seems Jesse Moore might actually be 14.)
Leben’s WEC middleweight title victory over Swick from January of 2004 is notable for a number of reasons. First, it reminds us that before the Zuffa money came pouring in, the WEC used to hold its events in a weirdo hexagonal cage, almost exclusively in that magical oasis of Lemoore, Calif. Second, it predates either guy’s appearance on “TUF” by more than a year. Third, we felt it was important to include at least one vintage vid for the all the down-ass old-school WEC homies (Doug “The Rhino” Marshall, James Irvin, Lavar Johnson, Olaf Alfonso, et. al. ) who didn’t make this list.
Also interesting that in the above brief highlights of their two-round affair we see the 2004 Leben doing a few things that the 2010 Leben would never, ever do. Things that make you wonder if the 2004 Chris Leben wasn’t the better fighter. At the 54 second mark, it seems Leben sort of pulls guard and starts working for a submission when Swick threatens with a takedown. No, seriously. Not only that but — at about 1:07 — watch him sink a fairly slick rear naked on Swick after dropping him with a left hook. When that doesn’t work, it’s the same-old Crippler. After absorbing six or seven punches to begin the second round, he lands one, which crumples the Swickster. As a reward, Leben gets a dimestore belt and a hug from a pre-terrorist-scarf-and-train-engineer-hat Randy Couture.
“The Korean Zombie” and “The Texan Decision Zombie” do what they do
(WEC 48, 4/24/10)
One of the best fights of the year? Or one of the best fights eva?!?! You decide. Man, something about Zuffa coming together with SpikeTV is just magical. It seems like every time the TV company and the MMA promotion need two guys to engage in a crazy slugfest they get it at exactly the right moment. Case-in-point: Leonard Garcia and Chan Sung Jung opening the free lead-in to the WEC’s first-ever pay-per-view event with their insane 15-minute video game scrap. If you didn’t buy the PPV after watching it, you’re either developmentally delayed or you somehow find the concept of two men beating the dogshit out of each other inside a metal cage off-putting. Either way, we don’t envy you.
At the time this display was unthinkably awesome. Later we learned that fighting without regard for his own face is pretty much Jung’s whole deal. Even later than that we found out that winning sort of fishy decisions is what Garcia does almost every time, too.
Gravity? Fuck that shit. Jose Aldo don’t need no stinking gravity, as he proved in his fifth WEC appearance with this astounding 8-second knockout of Swanson. Look, pretty much everything Aldo has ever done in the WEC could probably make this list, but we had to choose one (or two) things. Frankly, the truly jaw-dropping nature of him opening this fight by throwing a flying double-knee can only be appreciated in super slow-mo. Unfortunately, to see that you’ll have to sit through 3:30 of the above video, which is clearly of someone filming the Spanish language WEC broadcast straight of their TV. Damn you, Zuffa copyright lawyers! Anyway, if you do sit through the video you’ll learn two things: 1) Like in soccer, rad knockouts are that much radder when screamed about in Spanish. 2) Jose Aldo does a dope dance.
Yep, Urijah Faber was riding high, but it was all about to come crashing down. Back in Nov. of ’08 the Cali Kid was cruising along on a win streak that encompassed 13 consecutive fights and more than three full years. Hell, the dude had never lost at 145-pounds before and was undoubtedly the best known and most admired featherweight in the world. Or at least in America which, let’s face it, is the world. What follows is a cautionary tale, kids: No matter how awesome you think you are at doing stuff, never launch yourself – body, mind and soul – into Mike Brown’s right hand. You do that and the next thing you know they’re trying to find compelling matchups for you at bantamweight.
Aldo proves Joe Rogan’s point about leg kicks
(WEC 48, 4/24/2010)
Between Nov. 2008 and April, 2010 the WEC elected to have Faber fight three of his next five bouts against either Brown or Aldo. In the most painfully possible way, the promotion was not doing him a favor. Particularly when he had to go five rounds with Aldo at the WEC PPV this past spring. For days (maybe weeks?) after Aldo kicked his leg into a living death, Faber amused himself by posting pictures of his thigh slowly swelling into a plump and juicy Ballpark frank. That, my friends, is a kind of fun you don’t ever want to have. In the wake of this loss, Faber dropped to 135-pounds, where we can only assume the UFC is about to make him a big, big star. That ought to soften the blow a bit.