This is the WEC's final hurrah for 2008 and it should be a solid one. There is one championship fight. There is one number one contender eliminator fight and a few other interesting fights. Hopefully WEC's other rising star, bantamweight champ Miguel Torres, can carry the torch unlike Urijah Faber did at WEC 36. Let's start breaking down the fights:
Cub Swanson v. Hiroyuki Takaya: Swanson in 12-2, 2-1 in the WEC, with 8 wins by stoppage. He is mostly a striker with strong wrestling. Takaya is 9-5-1, 0-1 in the WEC, with 6 wins by KO. He is also mostly a striker. Both of these guys are coming off tough losses to top featherweights (Jens Pulver and Leonard Garcia respectively). I wish this would turn into a slugfest but both of these guys need this win. I think it will come down to Swanson's wrestling against Takaya's outside striking. My guess is that Swanson is too good a grappler and will take the fight to the mat. My prediction is Swanson by decision.
Bart Palaszewski v. Alex Karalexis: Bart is 28-11, 8-4 in the IFL, making his WEC debut, with 19 wins by stoppage. He is a well rounded fighter. Alex is 9-3, 1-2 in the UFC, 3-1 in the WEC, with 5 wins by stoppage. He is a striker. Both of these guys are well seasoned even though Bart is making his debut. I think it will come down to whether Bart can get the fight to the mat or can Alex keep it standing. I'm going to stick with Alex on this one. I'll pick him by decision.
Wagnney Fabiano v. Akitoshi Tamura: Fabiano is 10-1, 6-0 in the IFL (and former IFL featherweight champ), making his WEC debut, with 8 wins by stoppage. He is a submission fighter. Tamura is 12-6-4, making his WEC debut, with 4 wins by stoppage. He is also a submission fighter. I think Fabiano is just a stronger fighter but Tamura is probably too tough to tap out so I'll pick Fabiano by decision. Fabiano has been brought in as the next in line of a strong stable of featherweights to challenge for the title. After Leonard Garcia and Urijah Faber getting a rematch this guy is next in line.
Brian Bowles v. Will Ribeiro: Bowles is 6-0, 3-0 in the WEC, with 2 wins by KO. He is a striker and wrestler. Ribeiro is 9-1, 1-0 in the UFC, with 7 wins by stoppage. He is also a striker. This is a top flight match up between two top 10 bantamweights in the world fighting to see who gets the next shot at Torres' belt. I think Bowles' grappling will be too much for Ribeiro and Bowles will squeak out the decision but it should be a great scrap.
Miguel Torres v. Manny Tapia: Torres is 34-1, 3-0 in the WEC, with 28 wins by stoppage. He is well rounded but is mostly a submission fighter. Tapia is 10-0-1, 2-0 in the WEC, with 6 wins by stoppage. He is well rounded but is a stronger striker. Again this is another superfight in the bantamweight division between two top 10 opponents. Torres is a top 10 pound for pound fighter in the world and until someone proves otherwise I'm sticking with him. I'll pick Torres by submission in round three.
This should be a solid night of free fights as the WEC always puts on. Stay tuned for my double whammy wrap up of the final two TUF episodes airing this Weds as well as a preview of the TUF finale on Friday. It's gonna be an action packed week folks! Until then,
Soccer kicks and head stomps...