Sunday, June 7, 2009



JUNE 7, 2009 --11:45 /

It's hard to think of any other 5 rounder in memory where a championship re-match (with essentially the same results via a completely different route), would lead to immediate calls for a third encounter. And soon. Does that make sense? Well, the fight fans among you know exactly what I'm talking about.

The WEC and ZUFFA are in precisely this situation because two of the sports "biggest heart" contenders threw the kitchen sink at each other tonight. Despite the fact that the belt is still worn by the "no fluke" and deserving champ in Mike Brown, the question of who is the best in the world at 145 lbs. is still not answered. Not for my money.

Like most other viewers I was saddened to see the fight go the way it did after the third round, because I, like most of us, thought it would have been best to have had a "fair" fight between these two equals reach a very decisive outcome. That's not what we got. I remained a little bummed about it until the 5th round when it hit me (and apparently it hit Kenny Florian then also), that we were witnessing greatness.

Brown's accomplishment aside, to the keen eye it was Faber who stole the spotlight. Taking the 4th and 5th rounds as a microcosm of Faber's heart and desire to once again reign over the division, fans were treated to the grittiest performance in MMA this year. People may argue it, and it remains to be seen what happens in this crazy sport between now and New Years, but this was a legendary moment in the career of Faber, but also in MMA history. It will be tough to top it at years end on the subjective "best of the year" lists. But let's not argue or look too far ahead. Let's just agree this was a beauty.

Brown clearly knew by the beginning of round 4 that Faber was having problems with his hands. The fact that Faber wasn't throwing them anymore might have been a clue! The fluid switch by Faber, without a hint of self pity, to vicious attempts to end all it by knockout or deep cut from his elbows was an "elevated" display to say the least. Note to Dana White - both these guys are keepers (obv!), and the 3rd fight between them deserves a bigger stage... a much bigger stage. Can you say MSG? Hmmm? The Timing could be right!

For the die-hards and newly converted both, let's just put a fine point on why exactly Faber easily deserves the 3rd crack at Brown (besides the obvious fact that noone else is going to "hang" with Mr. Brown). It came with 1 minute remaining in the 5th round, and in case you missed it, Faber had Brown in a fight ending choke. Flat out. A fight-ender. In case your wondering, that was the only serious threat right there of the fight concluding in a stoppage. Again, Florian deserves praise for his commentary here, as he deftly noted that the choke was deep (real deep) and that Faber couldn't finish it with a broken hand. Possibly 2 broken hands.

To all the reasons listed above, add to them the fact that the broken right hand happened on a nifty lick to Brown's head, and while Brown did seem to out-muscle Faber once again, Faber was starting to find a home for the right hand more and more prior to breaking it. Faber also (astoundingly) actually seemed to improve(!) his rhythm in the last 2 rounds, flying with a "broken wing". Faber may have come to realize that Brown's best hadn't hurt him...this time. A result of confidence from training on the fine points of avoiding clean punches from Brown ? Likely. It explains the total lack of hesitation with the elbows. Remember "the elbow" ? The one that missed. The one that sealed Faber's fate in the first fight ? A distant memory now. Apparently it matters from which distance and what state of mind you throw those things !

Hats off to the only belt with 2 champions - 145. Come on Dana, don't make me beg. Do number 3 at MSG !