With the WEC airing events on Sunday nights, they often end up on the same weekend as other, more publicized fights. In June, WEC 41 shared the weekend with Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields. One of the WEC's best events, WEC 34 that featured Jens Pulver vs. Urijah Faber I and Miguel Torres vs. Yoshiro Maeda, was on the same weekend as EliteXC's first show on CBS.
It was no surprise, then, that heading into this past weekend, UFC 101 received all the hype. Jim Genia even joked about a "rumor" of a WEC event happening. But just as has happened in the past, the WEC fights -- shown on cable for no additional fee -- were more thrilling than the pay-per-view UFC fights.
Before the WEC card even started, the news came out over Twitter that a fight was added to the main card, the exhausting split decision win for Leonard Garcia over Jameel Massouh. Next, Takeya Mizugaki survived a triangle choke for the final minute of the fight to pull out a decision over Jeff Curran. After losing most of the fight, Danny Castillo pulled a rabbit out of the hat with a technical knockout of Ricardo Lamas, just before Dominick Cruz won a frenzy of a fight over Joseph Benavidez. This all led up to the stunning upset, Brian Bowles knocking out Miguel Torres.
Compare those fights to the UFC 101 snoozefest of Kurt Pellegrino's decision over Josh Neer, or the early stoppage between Johny Hendricks and Amir Sadollah. There wasn't an exciting, engaged fight until Anderson Silva and Forrest Griffin took to the cage, and Silva KOed Griffin.
Today, MMA water cooler talk will likely center on the dominance of B.J. Penn in his weight class, and if Anderson Silva should move up to light heavyweight permanently. Those are worthy discussions, but I hope all fight fans discuss the WEC fights, too.