The Ship Be Sinking

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WEC 48 Predictions: No Wild Grain

I figure WEC’s first PPV is a fine place to do a first predictions post for them, and hopefully their buyrate will end up better than my accuracy is likely to be or it could be an end to both experiments. On paper, this is a phenomenal card; Aldo vs. Faber is as good a headliner from a sporting and action perspective as any fight which can be made and better than any other at the WEC level from a promotional standpoint, Henderson vs. Cerrone was a wonderful fight the first time, and the rest of the PPV card is full of great actions fighters and guys who are as big as names get in this promotion. The only way it could really be bigger is if Dominick Cruz were also defending his belt, though that for various reasons would not be a great idea for business. I’m excited for this one. Picks will be short.

Main Card

* Featherweight Championship bout: Jose Aldo (c) vs. Urijah Faber

Such a great fight. Most people seem to fall into two camps on this one: the larger group of people who think Aldo is going to kill Faber dead like a dog in the first round, and the people who think Faber is going to badly expose Aldo. I’m somewhere in the middle, and while I may be overrating Faber because I hate him with a passion nevertheless I still expect this to be a great fight which will go rounds, possibly all five, and which either man has a legitimate shot to win. Faber must get this down- while he’s unlikely to have it all his own way with a Nova Uniao black belt down there, it’s still a much better bet than throwing hands with a guy who at times looks more like Anderson Silva than Anderson Silva does these days. If Faber can get in, make it a wrestling match, control Aldo at least some of the time and do some damage from the top, he absolutely can win this. His game is to hurt Aldo enough to make him give up his back and try to get the choke, or else just control positions as best as he can to steal rounds. Don’t count him out- he’s a remarkable fighter, and if you’re a betting man you should probably consider putting money on this one; the odds currently ridiculously underrate the Kerry Von Erich look-alike.

That said, no, no I’m not picking him. For Faber to win he has to come forward and open up, at least to shoot and probably both to shoot and to strike enough to make Aldo respect his standup and not sit on the shot, and this is probably going to be his doom. Aldo is a a killer striker who has a good chance of KO’ing Faber, not because he has great natural power (he may, but that’s not his major asset) but because he has something of the gifts that a Roy Jones or an Andy Silva have or had- an eerily perfect blend of speed, balance, and accuracy. Guys like this are trouble for anyone, but they’re doom for a wild fighter who likes to charge in and has to take the initiative to make the fight what he wants it to be, and that’s Faber here. Once he opens up Aldo is going to step back as he comes in, time him, and smash him with an uppercut, a hook or a rising knee strike. Faber may or may not be able to shrug that off once or twice, but the nature of the fight is such that he’s probably going to keep getting caught that way and there’s only so many times a man can take that kind of abuse. Aldo KO 3. Speed kills, and accuracy makes it quicker.

* Lightweight Championship bout: Ben Henderson (c) vs. Donald Cerrone

I love this fight so much. To me it’s functionally the main event really, considering the quality of the first fight and the general sense out there that Faber is significantly outmatched in the official headliner. The first fight between these two was almost a coin flip; there’s good reason to expect the followup to be as well. The key factor in my mind is which guy has improved the most since the first fight. What does being a champion do to Henderson? Some guys get sloppy once they win and slack off; some guys (and I expect Henderson is one) improve and fight with greater confidence than ever before. That could be good or bad if it makes Henderson even more likely to walk into submission attempts, but it may also allow him to overwhelm Cerrone if the Cowboy hasn’t improved himself. Cerrone however, leaving aside the championship factor, actually seems to have more room to improve and more reasonable chances of doing so than Henderson does for this fight. Cerrone has the advantages of training with Greg Jackson, he’s had the solvable issue of being a slow starter which probably cost him the first fight, and there were some specific things Henderson relied on in the first fight (stacking Cerrone up on the ground and posturing to a full stand for GNP, etc.) for which there are counters. All of which is to say, the best Cerrone beats the best Henderson… unless being a champion makes the best Henderson better. It’s this kind of intrigue that makes this such a great fight.

I’ll take Cerrone by decision- I think he comes out of the gate quicker this time and sneaks by in another really close fight, setting up either Cerrone/Henderson III or Cerrone/Varner II. Good stuff.

* Featherweight bout: Mike Brown vs. Manvel Gamburyan

It’s the exact same guy, except Brown is bigger, more experienced at the top level, probably stronger, and a more technical striker. Brown by decision, though he may pull of a GNP KO. I assume this is booked to give Brown the Aldo/Faber winner and I understand the desire to showcase a challenger on the undercard for the champion of the main event, but I would not have sacrificed Gamburyan here if I were booking- he’s a minor name and could be needed as a challenger himself soon.

* Lightweight bout: Anthony Njokuani vs. Shane Roller

This fight is basically an IQ test for Roller: if he takes it down he can win, and if he strikes for any appreciable amount of time he’s got a decent chance of being back-boarded out of the arena. Team Takedown guys seem to have an unhealthy fascination as wrestlers with wanting to be strikers, which sorta works if you have the unholy power of Johnny Hendricks and less so if you don’t, and I suspect that’s going to get Roller into trouble here. Njokuani KO1.

* Bantamweight bout: Antonio Banuelos vs. Scott Jorgensen

Every single time I’ve seen Jorgensen he’s been a noticeably better fighter than he was the last time, so I’ll take him to reverse the results of a matchup which he lost in a close fight the first time. Jorgensen by decision, moving him closer to a potentially awesome title showdown with Dominick Cruz.

Spike TV Card

* Featherweight bout: Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung

I am not a giant fan of Leonard Garcia- he’s not bad by any means, but he’s clearly very limited and I’m not sure he’s ever entirely come back from the horrid beating Mike Brown gave him. He’s looked a bit slower and a bit gun-shy since then and seems to be having trouble pulling the trigger on his punches, and those are bad signs for anyone and worse for a featherweight on the wrong side of 30. On that basis and the Zombie’s reputation as a prospect, I’ll go out on a limb and pick the Korean by decision.

* Lightweight bout: Alex Karalexis vs. Anthony Pettis

Pettis KO1. Showcase fight, y’all.

Preliminary Card

* Bantamweight bout: Brad Pickett vs. Demetrious Johnson

I appreciate a good gimmick as much as the next guy, but Pickett’s “pikey from Snatch” deal is truly ridiculous. I’ll take Johnson here; he’s got a little buzz and Pickett was not hugely impressive in his WEC debut. Decision.

* Featherweight bout: Chad Mendes vs. Anthony Morrison

It’s a set up for Mendes to get a win as a prospect, and I think he’ll take it. Decision, maybe a submission in the second.

* Bantamweight bout: Takeya Mizugaki vs. Rani Yahya

Lovely, an appearance by the only man in the sport whose name sounds like porno dialogue, Honey Yeah Yeah. Yahya is microbial in size at this weight and as a general rule is lost if he can’t tap someone (15 career wins- 14 by submission), so going against a larger opponent with better striking and decent takedown defense probably isn’t a good thing. Mizugaki, decision.

* Featherweight bout: Brandon Visher vs. Tyler Toner

Ehhh, let’s say Toner, KO. The people who like him REALLY like him.

I am stoked for this show. Should be all kinds of fun. My PPV buys prediction is 60,000, incidentally.

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April 24, 2010 - Posted by | MMA

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