Posted by Tommy Hackett on November 11th, 2010
Hard to believe, but the final shows to be held under the name World Extreme Cagefighting are on the way. Fittingly, tonight’s broadcast of WEC 52 from Las Vegas, NV(On Versus network stateside) features the promotion’s most popular fighter, Uriah Faber, against one of the talents that it helped develop into a star for North American audiences, Takeya Mizugaki. This should be an excellent fight to cap off a pretty good show.
But it’s a sad night because it reminds me how I’ll miss this promotion when its gone at year’s end. WEC’s emphasis on the lighter weight divisions often kept the pace up and offered an overall talent pool with a bit greater depth than the more glamorous UFC or Strikeforce. Admittedly, they’d fly under everyone’s radar sometimes with the battery of MMA shows out there. I’ve sometimes wished WEC would throw in some bells and whistles, a human interest story among their broadcasts – anything. But they’ll be missed all the same. With ZUFFA eliminating the WEC brand we’ll probably not see so many of these strong bouts in the lighter classes week after week.
Don’t it always seem to go… that you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone?
Predictions for this show are handled by myself (TH) and Jacob Lawton (JL). As always, predictions are for entertainment purposes only, so don’t blame us if you run out of money and are bought out by the Fertitta brothers. Just sayin’.
Main Event Bantamweight Bout: Urijah Faber (23-4) vs. Takeya Mizugaki (13-4-2)
JL: Faber makes his final appearance in a promotion that has been considered ‘his’ practically from his first fight with his debut in the Bantamweight division against the tough former title challenger Mizugaki. The Japanese was defeated last year by Miguel Torres for the strap, and has since gone 2-1, earning decisions over Jeff Curran and Rani Yahya and dropping one to Scott Jorgenson, and the Shooto alum has all the trademarks of a typical fighter from that promotion – hyperactive standup backed with some solid wrestling, with his only noticeable weakness coming if he can be put on his back. Faber’s own tools are well known – the ‘California Kid’ is primarily a wrestler who has developed a solid all round game, including a dangerous submission game which has yielded over half of his victories. This will be his first fight since the one sided beatdown loss against Jose Aldo for the 145lbs title back in April, and I’m sure that Faber will want to give his fans one last hurrah before he moves on to the greener pastures of the UFC. Barring a Mizugaki wonder punch, Faber’s superior wrestling and no nonsense ground game should see him earn the decision.
TH: I like Jacob’s analysis here, but am concerned about two things here. First is this bout’s obvious “x-factor”: Faber responding to the weight cut to 135, especially against a guy who has fought at that division for years. Secondly, we all know Mizugaki is a very skilled all-around fighter — but his boxing is what stands out most. I’m thinking of that first Mike Brown fight where Faber spun foolishly into a reverse elbow only to be knocked senseless by a simple left hook — a strike that happens to be Mizugaki’s best punch. I see this as a stiff test for the California Kid, but I also see these guys going the distance, where Mizugaki often gets the short end of the stick (even a clear victory against Jeff Curran was scored against him by one judge). Faber, decision.
Bantamweight Bout: Joseph Benavidez (12-2) vs. Wagnney Fabiano (14-2)
JL: Benavidez looks to rally following his razor thin loss to divisonal champ Dominick Cruz back in August against the surging jiu-jitsu ace Fabiano. The Brazilian is on a two fight winning streak following his shock loss to Mackens Semerzier, and his methodical style, both on the ground and standing is something many fighters find hard to deal with. Benavidez, who trains with Urijah Faber at Team Alpha Male, is, like so many fighters from that camp, modelled after his training partner – a hyperactive fighter with good wrestling and an often underrated all round game. Having said that, Benavidez is a small Bantamweight, while Fabiano is a good size for the weight class, and I think that’ll play a factor here in a fight between two otherwise very well matched opponents. I expect Fabiano to grapple his way to a competitive decision win.
TH: Maybe I’m way off, maybe it’s the glut of great fighters fitting his profile that have fought for the WEC over the years — but I’m basically sold on Joseph Benavidez to beat anybody not named Dominick Cruz at this point. He stays every bit as busy as his mentor, and can beat you up from every angle on the mat without taking an unneccessary risk. Still, his standup isn’t the best and unfortunately neither is that of the jiu-jitsu ace Fabiano — who hits hard with overhands and leg kicks, but isn’t the most technical or accurate. I’m afraid we may see these guys stalemate in their grappling and end up in a so-so standup fight, where I give a slight edge to Benavidez. Benavidez, decision.
Featherweight Bout: Chad Mendes (8-0) vs. Javier Vasquez (15-4)
JL: Yet another Team Alpha Male prospect will step into the cage to do battle in Mendes tomorrow night, this time against Gracie JJ student Vasquez. After dropping his first two fights with the company, both razor thin split decisions, the jiu-jitsu black belt has rebounded nicely onto a two fight win streak, the victories coming against Jens Pulver and Wagnney Fabiano conqueror Mackens Semerzier. In both those fights he demnostrated his superlative jiu-jitsu to pick up the submission win, and it’s something the undefeated prospect Mendes will have to look out for. Less well rounded than many of his stablemates, Mendes is still primarily a wrestler, but a darn good one, as dominant decisions over fellow prospects Cub Swanson and Erik Koch testify. Though he has rudimentary striking and basic submissions, it’s clear that Mendes’ primary tactic is to grind his opponent down with his wrestling, and grinding wrestlers fighting BJJ artists are just asking for trouble. Look for a tiring Mendes to get tied up in Vasquez’s guard in the third and submit to a triangle choke.
TH: I don’t think Mendes is quite in Vasquez’s league. A standup battle will end with Mr. Rose Gracie (seriously!) taking the bout to the mat early in the second round, where I’ll call the win by armbar. Vasquez, submission round two.
Bantamweight Bout: Damacio Page (15-4) vs. Demetrious Johnson (6-1)
JL: An entertaining 135lbs scrap rounds off the card as Greg Jackson trained Page takes on the talented prospect Johnson. Johnson’s nick name ‘Mighty Mouse’ is apt – he is a tiny 5′3”, and not a particularly bulky 5′3” either. He has, however, showed promise in his WEC career thus far, remaining game in a unanimous decision loss to Brad Pickett and defeating fellow prospect Nick Page by the same method. At such an early stage in his career, Johnson looks a fairly well rounded fighter to boot, with powerful strikes joining a fluid ground game on his resume. Page, meanwhile, is a seasoned veteran of the Bantamweight division, and a very talented and well rounded one at that. As with many of the fighters at Greg Jackson’s, Page has become a total fighter who can (and has) finish fights in a multitude of ways. Combined with his larger frame, I can’t see ‘Mighty Mouse’ standing much of a chance here – a second round stoppage will give Page a big victory.
TH: I hate to cop out here but… yeah, this works for me.
As always, enjoy the fights!