WEC 48: Jose Aldo vs. Urijah Faber Coming to Pay-Per-View

E. Spencer KyteSenior Analyst IJanuary 30, 2010

Earlier this week as a guest on The Dave and Mahoney Show (X107.5 Las Vegas), World Extreme Cagefighting General Manager Reed Harris confirmed that former Featherweight champion and company poster boy Urijah Faber will meet current champion Jose Aldo at WEC 48.

In addition to vehemently denying Tito Ortiz's claims that Chuck Liddell was an alcoholic, the head of the WEC also let it be known that this upcoming event will be the company's first foray into the world of pay-per-view.

Harris is very-much correct in believing that a bout between Faber and Aldo could be awesome; both are dynamic fighters with fully-loaded offensive arsenals, and hardcore fight fans will certainly be looking forward to the day they step into the cage.

But there are a number of questions that emerge when considering the move to pay-per-view for the little brother of the Zuffa family.

As Michael Rome of Bloody Elbow points out, May is a pretty busy month in terms of potential PPV purchases for people who like watching grown men beat the bejesus out of each other. For starters, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley will hook'em up on the first of the month. How big is this fight going to be?

The UFC changed the date of UFC 113, pushing it to the following Saturday after getting spanked by "Pretty Boy Floyd" last time the two went head-to-head.

In addition to the Montreal card on May 8, the UFC also has an event scheduled for the final Saturday of the month in Las Vegas, presumably headlined by the long-awaited clash between Quinton Jackson and Rashad Evans.

Just within their own household, the WEC is battling two highly-anticipated fights. Throw in Mayweather - Mosley and the WWE: Judgment Day event and you're looking at four solid shows to compete against.

But facing a monthly rife with competition shouldn't be the biggest concern.

The WEC is ultra-exciting. Their events are consistently the most complete shows from top-to-bottom and are always worth watching. On Versus. For free. And only if you're a hardcore fan.

Most casual fans have no idea who or what the WEC is. That sucks, but it's the truth. While Faber has been able to help draw greater numbers to Versus each time he enters the cage, bringing more eyeballs to the cable network they already pay for and asking them to part with $45 are two very different things.

The return on investment from a WEC card is what has always made it so terrific; the shows are more-or-less free on Versus and always packed with excitement.

Even then, far fewer fans have been interested in fight cards that don't include "The California Kid," so if less and less people are interested in what is essentially free WEC fights on Versus, how many can you reasonably expect to buy this card?

With WEC 47 taking place at the beginning of March, bringing Aldo vs. Faber to pay-per-view two months later all but eliminates the upper echelon of the bantamweight division (Brian Bowles, Dominick Cruz, Miguel Torres) from taking part, as well as Jens Pulver.

The WEC has a limited number of recognizable fighters and this date takes a couple of them completely out of the equation.

Ben Henderson's first defense of the recently unified Lightweight title could be the second fight on the card, but that would leave the WEC short on main event-caliber fights moving forward.

While taking a hit on a future event to have a successful PPV debut would be understandable, the Henderson - Cerrone fight on Versus didn't do great numbers despite ending up on a number of Fight of the Year lists.

That would certainly bolster potential interest in a rematch, but would it be enough to make the WEC's first trip to the land of pay-per-view successful?

With the UFC failing to come close to the 500,000 buy benchmark set forth by Dana White with their most recent event, expectations inside the WEC offices have to be lower than the less than 300,000 buys UFC 108 managed to squeeze out.

What makes things more complicated is that there is never going to be a bigger fight for the WEC; Faber is the star of the company and the unquestioned biggest draw, while Aldo is coming off a year that saw many crown him Fighter of the Year.

While pushing the fight back a month might make sense in terms of the schedule, there is no other bout that makes as much sense atop the marquee for the company's pay-per-view debut.

Unfortunately, it might not be enough to convince even the hardest of hardcore fans to spend $45 on something they've enjoyed for free for quite some time. A card full of exciting, albeit relatively unknown, pairings makes perfect sense when the cost is built into your monthly cable bill.

But when you start asking fans to pay for one big name fight and a handful of question marks, you're looking at a recipe for disaster.

Affliction's two cards had a hard time drawing dollars from fans pockets, despite the presence of Fedor Emelianenko and a number of recognizable fighters, while Kimbo Slice outdrew "The Last Emperor" on CBS.

Asking fight fans to spend UFC money on a WEC PPV in a month loaded with option just doesn't make sense.

Hopefully, Reed Harris and the WEC figure that out before too long.


Originally posted at FiveKnuckles.com