The WEC hits the big time this week end as they put on their first PPV event this Saturday. They put together as strong a card as possible to get people to pony up the $45 this will cost as opposed to getting it free on Versus.
Two championships are on the line as one of the most dynamic fighters in the game, Jose Aldo, defends his featherweight title against the WEC poster boy and former champion Urijah Faber in his back yard of Sacramento, CA. Also, Ben Henderson defends his newly acquired lightweight title in a rematch of last October's interim championship fight with Donald Cerrone.
The WEC is even breaking out the UFC treatment with a "Countdown" show, Goldberg and Rogan on the mic, and Bruce Buffer making the introductions. It will be interesting to see how this goes over with the public as well as the WEC talent who should get their chance to shine in the spotlight of PPV which isn't only reserved for Goldie and co. All that aside this is a good card so let's break down the fights:
Featherweight Championship - Jose Aldo (c) vs Urijah Faber
Aldo is 16-1 with 13 wins by stoppage. He is a muay thai fighter with a black belt in jiu jitsu. He has faced some good fighters and this will be another solid test for him.
Faber is 23-3-1 with 19 wins by stoppage. He is a grappler first with solid kickboxing. Faber has fought the best in the division with mostly positive results.
Aldo has left a wake of destruction in the WEC the likes of which has never been seen. He has finished every fight by TKO and hasn't been out of the second round. Expectations and pressure don't seem to bother him.
Faber is also used to the spotlight and is probably the greatest champion the WEC has had to date. These two are on a collision course for an excellent fight.
Faber has the edge in wrestling but Aldo has the edge in jiu jitsu and striking. If Faber can rough up and smother Aldo without getting caught he can win this fight. However, I think Aldo has the striking ability and submission skills to catch Faber wherever the fight goes.
Faber is a very tough guy so I don't think this will be an easy victory for Aldo. I'm picking Aldo to finally make it out of the second round with a TKO victory in the third to retain his title.
Lightweight Championship - Ben Henderson (c) vs Donald Cerrone
Henderson is 11-1 with nine wins by stoppage. He is a grappler with some striking. He has fought and beaten tough competition since his debut in the WEC.
Cerrone is 11-2 with 10 wins by submission. He is a jiu jitsu fighter who loves to strike. He has fought solid competition with mixed results.
These guys faced off only seven months ago. Each have had one fight in between and neither seemed drastically different from their previous fight. So I'm not sure that this fight will go down much differently.
Both have a strong grappling game and like to strike. This fight should be very competitive no matter where it takes place but Henderson seems to rise to the occasion where Cerrone seems to wilt a little bit. Also, I think Henderson has the edge in wrestling.
I'm picking Henderson to win by decision again to retain his title.
Mike Brown vs Manny Gamburyan
Brown is 23-4 with 17 win by stoppage. He is a wrestler with a strong jiu jitsu game and solid boxing. He is a former champion and has fought a lot of tough guys in his career.
Gamburyan is 10-4 with seven wins by stoppage. He is a judoka who likes to strike. He has faced some tough competition in his short career.
If this fight takes place on the feet Brown should be the victor. If they fight more of a grappling match it should be a very tight contest. I think Brown should use his grappling ability to keep the fight standing.
I'm picking Brown to pick Gamburyan apart on the feet and win a decision.
Anthony Njokuani vs Shane Roller
Njokuani is 12-2 with seven wins by KO. He is a muay thai fighter. He has faced some tough competition with mixed results.
Roller is 7-2 with six wins by stoppage. He is a grappler with some striking. He has also faced some tough competition with mixed results.
This is a classic striker vs grappler match up. Njokuani has the advantage standing and could take out Roller. However, Roller has the grappling advantage and if he fights smart and sticks to his gameplan he can pull out the win.
I'm picking Roller to win by submission in the second round.
Antonio Banuelos vs Scott Jorgensen
Banuelos is 17-5 with eight wins by stoppage. He is a boxer with a wrestling background. He has fought some tough competition with mixed results.
Jorgensen is 9-3 with five wins by stoppage. He is a grappler. He has also faced some tough fighters with mixed results.
These two met almost a year ago where Banuelos took a split decision victory. Since then both are undefeated but Jorgensen has been much more impressive.
Banuelos has the edge standing and his sprawl and brawl will be tough to overcome. However, Jogensen has been impressive and if he can get the fight to the mat he can pull it out.
Based on how close the last fight was and how good Jorgensen has looked I'm picking a reversal of fortune as Jorgensen pulls out the decision victory.
Leonard Garcia vs Chan Sung Jung
Garcia is 17-5-1 with 12 wins by stoppage. He is a grappler who loves to strike. He has fought some tough fighters with mixed results since coming over to the Zuffa family.
Jung is 10-1 with eight wins by stoppage. He is a grappler with a strong kickboxing background. He is making his American debut after fighting exclusively in Japan and Korea.
I know very little about Jung but this sounds like a tough match up for Garcia. Jung seems like he has an answer no matter where the fight goes.
I could be way off on this pick but I'm picking Sung to win by decision. If Garcia loses that could be bad news for his WEC career.
Alex Karalexis vs Anthony Pettis
Karalexis is 10-4 with six wins by stoppage. He is a kick boxer with a developing jiu jitsu game. He has fought some tough fighters with limited results.
Pettis is 8-1 with seven wins by stoppage. He has solid striking and grappling. Pettis hasn't faced much top competition.
Pettis should want to take this fight to the mat. If he can get it there he should have a good shot to win. Pettis is still green but I think he can step up to this challenge.
I'm picking Pettis to win by submission in the third round.
Brad Pickett vs Demetrious Johnson
Pickett is 18-4 with 15 wins by stoppage. He is a jiu jitsu fighter with decent boxing. Pickett hasn't faced much top competition.
Johnson is 6-0 with all six wins by stoppage. He is a submission fighter with some striking. He is making his WEC debut.
This should be an interesting fight. I think it might wind up being two grapplers that wind up negating the other's ground game and they wind up striking.
If that's the case I like Pickett's experience and boxing background to win out. I'm picking Pickett to give Johnson his first loss by TKO in the second round.
Chad Mendes vs Anthony Morrison
Mendes is 6-0 with three wins by stoppage. He is a wrestler with some striking. He hasn't faced any top competition yet.
Morrison is 15-8 with eight wins by stoppage. He is a striker. He has faced some tough fighters but without much success.
Morrison is not a pushover but I get the feeling the WEC is teeing this one up for Mendes. Morrison could obviously catch Mendes but I think Mendes will get the take down and grind this one out. I'm picking Mendes by decision.
Takeya Mizugaki vs Rani Yahya
Mizugaki is 12-4-2 with five wins by stoppage. He is a boxer with a developing grappling game. Mizugaki has faced some tough fighters with limited success.
Yahya is 15-5 with 14 wins by submission. He is a jiu jitsu ace. He has faced some tough fighters with mixed results.
This should be a good striker vs grappler match up and I'm disappointed it isn't being featured on the aired prelims on Spike. That aside I think Yahya's grappling will be too much for Mizugaki.
Unless Mizugaki lands a lucky punch I'm picking Yahya to win by decision.
Brandon Visher vs Tyler Toner
Visher is 13-0 with 10 wins by stoppage. He is a boxer with a developing grappling game. He hasn't faced any top competition yet.
Toner is 9-1 with seven wins by stoppage. He is a striker with some grappling. He hasn't fought many tough fighters.
This should be a solid stand up scrap. It's tough to pick who is going to come out on top so I'm going to take a shot in the dark.
I'm picking Visher to stay undefeated with a decision victory.