WEC 52: “Faber vs. Mizugaki” is now a thing of the past, and now more than ever, fans and insiders are wondering: what’s next? The WEC has only one show left before it’s folded into the UFC and the UFC adds both a Bantamweight and a Featherweight division to its roster. How big a part will the WEC 52 winners and losers play in the UFC? Where do they all go from here, and what do they have to look forward to? Here’s the latest installment in my “What’s Next” series, featuring the stars of WEC 52: “Faber vs. Mizugaki”.
Next for Damacio Page: Slugging it out with the other heavy-handed strikers in the new UFC Bantamweight division. It’s going to take time and a lot of work if Page ever wants to get close to a title shot, but he probably won’t have any problems consistently finding work in the UFC. Page is the kind of fighter UFC President Dana White loves: he’ll take two to give one, he’s got a pretty good chin, and he comes to knock out or get knocked out. He’ll be a consistent mid-level threat.
Next for Demetrious Johnson/Joseph Benavidez: Each other, which is why I grouped them together. I think Benavidez/Johnson would be a fantastic match. Johnson displayed some great technical wizardry off of his back when Page slammed him and threw him to the ground in their fight, but he also displayed the kind of sneaky striking power that nearly KO’d Page. Benavidez’s striking power is no secret, and neither is his vastly under-rated ground game. This fight would go a long way towards establishing the next Bantamweight contender, and it’d also probably be highly entertaining, so I’m all for seeing it happen.
Next for Wagnney Fabiano: Fabiano is 2-1 in the WEC’s Bantamweight division, so while he may never have truly lived up to his hype, there’s still a future for Fabiano in the UFC. I honestly think this loss to Benavidez was nothing more and nothing less than a stupid mistake: Fabiano took his ground expertise for granted and opened himself up to submissions, both to score a better position and because he thought he’d be able to wriggle out of anything Benavidez could throw at him. That was obviously not the case. Fabiano doesn’t have to go back to the drawing board, but in the future, if he wants to succeed he should bear in mind that anything is possible and that your strongest weapon can still fail you.
Next for Eric Koch/Next for Chad Mendes: Again, these two are grouped together because I think they should fight each other. Both men have displayed a ton of heart and skill in their time with the WEC, and their victories at WEC 52 put them both within shouting distance of a championship opportunity. Plus it’s a rematch, and most people love rematches.
Next for Urijah Faber: No matter what the future holds for Urijah Faber, I think he’ll be a co-main event or main event star for most of his run in the UFC. Faber was one of the WEC’s best and could end up being a big draw for the UFC. In regards to his future as a fighter rather than as a PPV draw, I think Faber has a long, hard road ahead of him as he faces several worthy challengers before being given a shot at the championship. But it’s a road Faber can and will walk on, if given the opportunity. By the end of 2011, we’ll probably see Faber challenging for the UFC Bantamweight Championship.
And that’s what I think, fans and friends. Now it’s your turn. Get your crystal globe out and start predicting: what does the future hold for the winners and losers of WEC 52?