Wednesday, November 5, 2008

11.05.08 10:30 PM ~
What exactly the future holds for the WEC is now any one's guess, as it's two biggest stars came crashing to earth all at once tonight. One of the "losers" is too good to remain down for long, the other may be out for the count.
If you're gonna' lose your title after a string of victories like Urijah Faber had put together, you might as well lose it with an ill conceived, wildly thrown flying elbow. At least it looked cool, and the result is a certain highlight reel knockout. Urijah Faber was just on the wrong side of this highlight reel stoppage... a rare occasion. Over the coming days and weeks there will be a lot of speculation about Faber and this fight. The questions will be thus: Has Faber's fame and enjoyment of the limelight caught up to him? Had he lost focus somehow since his battle with Jens Pulver (who was also on the receiving end of a highlight reel knockout tonight!) ? Did Faber not believe Mike Brown would be that strong, or that good? Has Faber's drive lessened for lack of perceived "threats" in his weight class? All fair questions. But most of those questions can be put to rest fairly quickly. For one thing, Faber looked as ripped as ever, and as quick as ever. The physical issue is a non-issue. Was Urijah at his fittest mentally? That's a question only Faber and his camp can answer. One thing is for sure, the blows that ended the fight were absolutely solid. The only obvious failing for Faber was the wild, winner take all flying elbow attempt that walked his chin smack into the wall Mike Brown had waiting for it. The interesting thing about the wild elbow attempt is what it reveals about Faber, and what it likely means for his ongoing status in the Zuffa fold. Faber went for broke while hurt ! If you need to, go back and watch it again slowly. Brown had Faber rocked, and Urijah's reaction was go for broke, with every intention and expectation of pulling it off. That elbow was meant to kill. It was meant to end the fight right there. It's crazy for anyone to have that kind of confidence, but it tells you what Faber is capable of. All of the tools physically, and bravery to the point of danger. Faber will be back, and it will be interesting to see how many fights the organization makes him wait for another shot at Brown. The truth is that they should fight each other again next. Two reasons for this. First, Faber is unquestionably the number one challenger now (in terms of proven ability), but also because Brown was quite visibly hurt (and badly) as he left the octagon. Unless Brown broke a rib raising his belt to the crowd, then Faber hurt him bad somewhere in the three minutes of fury which was this title fight. Brown was easily the strongest opponent Urijah has faced, and apparently he hits the hardest too. But with the changes likely coming in Urijah's strategy after this fight (likely to be insisted upon by Faber's team - and wisely so), a more conservative Faber is likely to be favored in the re-match.
As Urijah has been gaining fame he has been enjoying the fruits of his labor. He's not the self-described "boring, stay at home guy" that Forrest Griffin is. Virtually everyone in the MMA game has seen Faber living large in Vegas. Does that mean that Faber has been abusing himself and its catching up? You never know who is doing what, but Faber looked in great shape tonight, and also fast as hell. Maybe he just met a better man tonight.
On the other side of that coin, one would not be crazy to wonder if Paulo Filho's new found fame has lead to a life of excess. One would actually be crazy to assume that Filho has not acquired some kind of a substance abuse problem somewhere along his ascent to the upper tier in the MMA world rankings. As alluded to by commentator Frank Mir (who might know a thing or two about these things), Filho looked absolutely confused throughout the last half of the fight. That is completely aside from the fact that the man was a full five pounds over at weigh-in (for a title defense !). Can Filho's bizarre behavior be ascribed to a grueling attempt to make weight? We'd have to accept that possibility, but this seemed to be more than that. After just the first round Filho seemed all too easily resigned to the idea of letting his unblemished record go without any resistance at all. All around it was a real poor display from the Brazilian who many were saying might be the only challenger for Anderson Silva. Guess what ? No one is gonna' be saying that anymore. This guy is going to have slid right off the "top twenty" radar by tomorrow, and it will be interesting to see just how Zuffa responds to this. After all, it was widely assumed that the UFC would have to do everything in its power (and its piggy bank) to keep Filho on board the UFC/WEC train. Dana White may actually be relieved by this turn of events, in that a fighter who was likely to demand some serious cash in return for beefing up the UFC middleweight division has exposed himself to be either very overrated or a major headcase before he got big dollar promises. We wish Paulo Filho well and a speedy recovery from whatever ails him. The sport of MMA is obviously better off with the deepest talent pool possible. But this young fighter was being scouted for the "bigs" last night, and in the words of Robert DeNiro "YOU BLEW IT !"

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