Coming in to Thursday's "WEC 52: Faber vs. Mizugaki" I wasn't blown away by the show on paper until I really sat down and looked at it. It was then I decided that it was going to be a good one.
WEC 52 was everything we hoped it could be — and more. In our staff predictions for the show, of all the fights we picked, only a single finish was picked. And with the WEC's track record, that's not without merit.
What we got Thursday was four exciting finishes in five main card fights, plus a super-exciting preliminary bout tacked onto the broadcast.
When the night was said and done, though, it was the night of Team Alpha Male.
After a bit of a rocky start, Team Alpha Male leader Urijah Faber did not disappoint in his bantamweight deubt, as he turned it up and choked Takeya Mizugaki unconscious late in the first round, meaning the UFC officially has another cash cow on its hands.
I'm sure everyone involved on the business end breathed a little sigh of relief when Josh Rosenthal finally deemed Mizugaki unconscious. Faber, who I see getting an immediate title shot, could be in for big paydays if he wins the title. The UFC should be angling toward Faber and Miguel Torres to be the coaches for "The Ultimate Fighter 14" next fall and have them have their long-awaited meeting (whether it's for the title or not) at the end of the season. That's the money fight and could quickly add legitimacy to the lower weight classes.
In the co-main event, Chad Mendes did good work, beating Javier Vazquez by decision. This was a big test for Mendes and I'd say he passed with flying colors. He showed some good offense and really sapped Vazquez of his will by the end of the fight. He was never seriously threatened and pulled off a sweet monkey flip guard pass in the second round. I liked what I saw out of Mendes and although he's nowhere near ready for a title shot, I look forward to his continued growth.
Team Alpha Male wouldn't have been 3-0 on the night if Joseph Benavidez wouldn't have gotten things started with his second-round submission of Wagnney Fabiano. This was impressive on Benavidez's part, as he's now managed to submit two fighters (Fabiano, Torres) who had only been submitted a combined one time in 55 total bouts before fighting him. That's impressive.
This is a big night for the team that is going to set them up for big things in the UFC.
If there's anything we learned from WEC 52 it was this: When fighting Team Alpha Male, be sure to watch you neck.