The Weekly Wrap: Feb. 28 - March 6

Top Story

By Jack Encarnacao Mar 7, 2009
The Weekly Wrap walks readers through the last seven days in MMA, recapping and putting into context the week's top story, important news and notable quotes.

Top Story

A month that will showcase featherweights to an unprecedented degree was kicked off by the division’s top-ranked fighter, Mike Thomas Brown, solidifying his position with a star-making performance atop the latest offering from World Extreme Cagefighting.

The WEC champion and American Top Team powerhouse battered Leonard Garcia in his first title defense on March 1 in Corpus Christi, Texas. The WEC 39 main event deflated the vociferous crowd in support of Garcia, who was dropped early with a well-placed right hook, bloodied with elbows and trapped in a head-and-arm choke for the tapout.

The win, which earned Brown a $7,500 bonus for best submission, puts him once again on a collision course with the face of the division, Urijah Faber. Faber was shown ringside with an ear-to-ear grin at the prospect of a rematch with one of only two men to defeat him. Faber told the Sherdog Radio Network's "Beatdown" show this week that the fight is tentatively set for June. Meanwhile, UFC President Dana White told KHTK Radio this week that he is “very, very confident” the WEC will soon be on pay-per-view. There has been speculation that Faber vs. Brown II would headline such an effort, and Brown hinted at the possibility in a post-fight interview with Sherdog.com’s Greg Savage. However, Faber told “Beatdown” on Monday that he was doubtful the bout would launch the WEC’s pay-per-view plans.

The Brown win kicked off a month that will be the busiest for featherweights in the sport's history. Both Dream and Sengoku will be launching 16-man tournaments over the next two weeks in the weight division.

WEC 39 drew 6,100 fans to the American Bank Center Arena for a $297,990 gate, according to Yahoo Sports’ Steve Cofield. The television event did a 0.6 rating on Versus for an average of 531,229 viewers, according to The Wrestling Observer. The number is down from WEC 38, which did 700,000 viewers for a card featuring Urijah Faber vs. Jens Pulver, a rematch of the most-watched fight in WEC history. The WEC 39 audience tally was also down from the 671,000 viewers drawn for the Miguel Torres vs. Manny Tapia show in December, but up from the first Faber vs. Brown fight in November, which did 497,000 viewers.

Another top 145-pounder, Jose Aldo, upped his stature just a bit at WEC 39. Aldo again proved dynamic in a speedy beatdown of Chris Mickle, a veteran of the Midwest MMA circuit. Aldo used punches in bunches to TKO an overmatched Mickle in the first, and showed restraint in opting out of an over-the-top post-fight celebration. Aldo said he has eyes on climbing the featherweight ladder, though there is speculation that he may be looking to drop to 135 pounds to challenge Torres.

The night's best fight, if bonus awards are any indication, didn't make air on Versus. NCAA national wrestling champion Johny Hendricks passed his sternest test to date in taking a decision over Alex Serdyukov, earning both fighters $7,500 payoffs for “Fight of the Night.” One preliminary fight that did make air, be it in heavily edited form, was Damacio Page's crushing 18-second right hand knockout of Marcos Galvao. Galvao twitched on the canvas and was prone on the mat for several minutes following the finish, casting a hush over the live crowd. But only the winning blow and a brief Page interview were shown on Versus, prompting some backlash. Video of the post-fight scene was posted to YouTube.com, but was taken down due to a Zuffa copyright infringement claim. Despite the scare, an MRI indicated Galvao did not suffer any serious injuries, but he did receive an indefinite medical suspension, according to MMAJunkie.com.

Also at WEC 39, former International Fight League standout Bart Palaszewski was knocked down a rung in the lightweight standings after he dropped a decision to Illinois-based All-American wrestler Ricardo Lamas, competing in only his sixth professional fight. Lamas, a late replacement for the injured Rich Crunkilton, was a bit sheepish on his feet but was able to put the fight on the floor at a moment's notice, an advantage that proved too much for the standup-oriented Palaszewski. In the night's other televised fight, Rob McCullough took a relatively uneventful split decision over Marcus Hicks.

The latest WEC event came during a week where parent company Zuffa announced it had landed a deal to broadcast archived WEC fights in Spanish on the Fox Sports Espanol channel, which since 2006 has broadcast UFC fights in the vein of Spike TV’s "Unleashed" program. WEC "Alborto" premieres March 20, and will provide a direct link to a Spanish-speaking audience for Hispanic WEC fighters like Miguel Torres, Manny Tapia and Leonard Garcia.
<h2>Fight Finder</h2>