In what is a major week for the Ultimate Fighting Championship brand, participants of UFC 124 await their next moves while World Extreme Cagefighting will soon ride off into the sunset.

First, there’s the flagship promotion of Mixed Martial Arts, which just concluded its 124th major event. A few days ago, I highlighted three fighters that had tall orders to fill. None of them were able to fulfill their respective tasks. How, you ask:

Thiago Alves defeated John Howard via unanimous decision

Howard was pegged as a striker that could go blow for blow with Alvez, but unfortunately, his one-dimensional attack led to his eventual “Doomsday”. Alvez put on a performance that prompted UFC analyst Joe Rogan to label it the Pitbull’s best career outing to date. Whether it was punches, kicks, takedowns or his ability to switch between attack and counterattack modes, Alves reminded the world that he is more than a midcard fighter.  Meanwhile, John Howard now owns a two-fight losing streak, which could effect his stock.

Stefan Struve defeats Sean McCorkle via TKO (Punches, 3:55 into Round 1)

McCorkle came the closest in making a mockery of my predictions, thanks to a takedown, followed by a deep Kimura submission on the Skyscraper. Struve moved around to make the security of the hold difficult, but McCorkle could’ve maintained his hold.  Opting to go with ground and pound to finish his UFC 124 foe, McCorkle reelased his hold, opening the door to his demise. After escaping McCorkle’s assault, Struve was able to sweep and mount McCorkle, and unleash his own onslaught of punches until referee Yves Lavigne had enough.

Georges St. Pierre defeated Josh Koscheck via unanimous decision (Retains UFC Welterweight Championship)

Once again, St. Pierre proved why he belongs in the “Pound-for-Pound Best” discussion when it comes to Mixed Martial Arts.  While he is primarily known for his wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he seems to have perfected another art. Thanks to his connection with legendary boxing trainer Freddie Roach, St. Pierre has added boxing to his repertoire. Koscheck can attest to that notion. His right eye was swollen shut after the opening round, rendering it useless for the remainder of the fight. Koscheck should be commended for his warrior-like mentality, but between the stiff jabs, cage clinches, takedowns and leg kicks, the champion proved to be too much for the mouthy number one contender.

Howard, McCorkle and Koscheck share the common task of  reassessing what’s next for their careers. Meanwhile, an entity of Mixed Martial Arts will soon close its doors and move on to greener pastures.

Thursday, December 16th marks the last World Extreme Cagefighting event, as the promotion will prepare to merge with the UFC. WEC 53 will go out with a bang, emanating from the Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Two titles will be on the line as Bantanweight champion Dominick Cruz defends his title against Scott Jorgensen and Lightweight Champion Ben Henderson will square off with current number one contender Anthony Pettis.

I’m going with Cruz to keep his title. While Jorgensen has a fire about him that keeps him on the offensive, bulls are often beat by El Matadors. Cruz’s unorthodox stance and height will lead him to victory, similar to the fashion in which he beat Jose Benavidez back at WEC 50. Cruz will be forever known as WEC’s last and UFC’s first Bantamweight champion.

For the Lightweight strap, I’ll go on faith and pick Henderson to retain as well. To date, Pettis is the hardest hitting striker the champion has faced. Henderson has been exposed as one that can be knocked down. What enforces my faith in him is his constant response to duress. Whenever he’s dropped, he goes to another place mentally, which results in a display of resolve that no one can fathom. Like his buddy Cruz, he will close out his WEC career as the last champion of his class. The difference is he’ll be a co/interim Lightweight champion who will eventually go on to see the winner of the Gray Maynard/Frankie Edgar UFC Lightweight championship match, thus unifying those titles.

The final week of UFC could serve as indication of how explosive 2011 will be.

By Antoine Hoffman


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