WEC 51 went down in Broomfield, Colo. on Thursday night, and as we've come to expect, the smaller fighters did their best to make MMA fans forget about the last lackluster UFC pay-per-view. And the best part? It was all on free TV. Well, as long as you already pay for Versus in your cable package. And let's be honest, you just have to see those UFL games, don't you?
Now that another WEC is in the books, here are the five most important things we learned from the card:
1. Jose Aldo is who we thought he was. The hype on Aldo grew so much, so quickly, one could be forgiven for harboring a little healthy suspicion. And if you watched only the first round of his WEC featherweight title defense against Manny Gamburyan, you'd rightly wonder what the big deal is. But after figuring Gamburyan out in the first, Aldo opened up early in the second and knocked him out -- as if he could have done it anytime he wanted. The question now, What's next? The WEC's 145-pound division is getting thin, thanks to Aldo's exploits. There's still a challenger or two left in the mix, perhaps most notably Josh Grispi, but if Aldo goes on like this he'll either have to move up in weight or start beating up the same people over and over again. Personally, I've never cared for reruns.
2. Some people will never learn to get along. The more we see of the relationship between Donald Cerrone and Jamie Varner, the stranger it seems. Just when they're on the verge of burying the hatchet, one has to pick it up and start swinging it again. Cerrone, who knotted the series at one with a decision victory, seems to want nothing more than to destroy Varner in every conceivable way. Varner, on the other hand, seems like he wants Cerrone's respect before moving on with his life. Neither is likely to get his wish, even if they finish their trilogy back in Varner's home state of Arizona, as Cerrone suggested. Still, eventually they have to get to a point where they forget what the original source of the beef was and just accept the other for what he truly is: The kind of nemesis that gives you a sense of purpose. I know he doesn't think so right now, but I bet Cerrone will be genuinely sad when he no longer has Varner to pick on.
3. Don't count Mark Hominick out. Poor submissions defense has been his undoing in the past, but lately, he's shown signs of closing that hole. As we saw on Thursday, when he beat Leonard Garcia via unanimous decision, Hominick has the ability to pick opponents apart all night long. It's still too soon to say whether he has the power or the grappling skills to climb all the way to the top of the division, but he's worth keeping an eye on, in a weight class where credible challengers are increasingly rare.
4. There's a reason zombies never win. True to his nickname, "The Korean Zombie," Chan Sung Jung, plodded forward with his hands dangerously low in his bout with George Roop. That strategy never plays out well (at least in the long-term) in zombie movies, and it didn't work out much better for Jung, either. At approximately the 1:30 mark of Round 2, Jung took a vicious head-kick from Roop and was out before he hit the floor. It makes you wonder, what did he expect? I realize he likes brawling just as much as he dislikes defending his face, but you can only get away with that so long. Once you go up against someone who's seen Night of the Living Dead and knows to keep moving and aim for the head, the party's over.
5. MMA is truly a global sport. China's Tiequan Zhang made his WEC debut against Pablo Garza, and while the fight wasn't all that competitive -- "The Mongolian Wolf" locked up a guillotine choke for the submission at 2:26 of Found 1 -- it was symbolically important. Zhang is the first fighter from mainland China to compete for a Zuffa promotion, but he probably won't be the last. With the UFC trying to break into the Asian market, you can bet the brass is looking for a little local appeal. Like Dana White always says, fighting is the rare sport that crosses all cultural boundaries. You don't even have to understand what Bruce Buffer is shouting about to enjoy what happens once the bell rings.