If Muhammad Ali was writing the prose for Saturday’s World Extreme Cagefighting pay-per-view debut, it would go something like this: Float like a feather, pounce like hawk.
With all apologies to the greatest boxer who ever lived, the Jose Aldo-Urijah Faber featherweight title fight at WEC 48 in Sacramento promises a break-neck pace in a don’t-blink battle of the best 145-pounders on the planet.
“I don’t make these predictions too lightly, but if this isn’t fight of the year, it will definitely be close,” says Dana White, president of the WEC’s parent company, the UFC.
“Faber is a wildman. He’ll stand up, he’ll go down, he’ll knee you in the face on his way down. He’s just a super-exciting fighter.
“And Jose hasn’t lost since 2005 and beat the guy (Mike Brown) that beat Faber to take the belt. This guy isn’t afraid to fight and he knocks people out.”
Aldo (16-1) is riding a nine-fight win streak with his last six victories by knockout.
Faber — long the poster boy of the WEC — boasts an impressive 23-3 record, but has only won twice in his last four fights, with both losses to Brown.
Faber lost his belt 16 months ago to Brown, who then lost it to the heavy-hitting Aldo at WEC 44 last November.
The WEC 48 main event also marks a new chapter for the lighter-weight fight club.
“This will be the first time we bring the WEC to pay-per-view and we just felt that the timing was right and this card was the right card,” says White.
Since the UFC bought the WEC in 2007, it has hosted a dozen shows that were available on free TV through the Versus network.
White says those years spent creating a fan base have allowed the WEC to move to pay-per-view. “But we still have a contract with Versus and we will continue to air fights on free TV,” he says.
The next step in the WEC’s growth will include branching out to host shows outside the U.S. Edmonton has been tapped for a June 20 show that will feature a main event between Kamal Shalorus and Jamie Varner.
White says the move to Canada follows the UFC’s two successful shows here (UFC 83 and 97 in Montreal) and two more sold-out events in the next couple of months.
“If I could, I’d host an event in Canada every weekend,” says White. “Canada has the greatest mixed-martial arts fans in the world.”
WEC 48 also features a lightweight title fight between Benson Henderson and Donald Cerrone.
The event is available on pay-per-view with two fights (Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung and Alex Karalexis vs. Anthony Pettis) free on Spike TV.