WEC 41 Preview

Mike Brown and Urijah Faber meet up for the second time to determine who the best 145 lb fighter in the world is. This time though Faber will have the hometown advantage in Sacramento, California. This should be an awesome match up and something tells me it won’t be over as quick as the last fight. We should be in for a barn burner!

Also on the card are three other interesting featherweight match ups. Rising star Jose Aldo takes on the always tough Cub Swanson. Jens Pulver looks to rebound from three consecutive losses against up and comer Josh Grispi. And last but not least Manny Gamburyan makes his debut at 145 lbs after coming down from the UFC’s lightweight division. There are some very interesting fights on this card so let’s start breaking them down:

Scott Jorgensen v. Antonio Banuelos: Jorgensen is 6-2, 2-1 in the WEC, with three wins by submission. He is a grappler with good wrestling and jiu-jitsu. Antonio Banuelos is 15-5, 6-4 in the WEC, with eight wins by stoppage. He is a striker.

This should be your classic grappler vs. striker match up. Jorgensen is a fast riser at bantamweight and I always like the grappler over the striker. Banuelos has good coaching coming out of The Pit with trainer John Hackelman and training with Chuck Liddell et al.

I like Jorgensen in this fight who has never been KO’d and who has the grappling skills to put Banuelos, who is prone to submissions, away. I’m picking Jorgensen by submission in the first round.

Manny Gamburyan v. John Franchi: Manny is 8-4, making his WEC debut, with seven wins by stoppage. He is grappler with strong judo. Franchi is 5-0, 1-0 in the WEC, with all four wins by stoppage. He is striker with some submission ability.

Manny is a huge 145 lb fighter who has fought as high as 170 lbs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Manny over 160 lbs by fight time so he should have a big size advantage. The problem with Manny though is that he is a great grappler but sometimes goes out throwing bombs to entertain instead of win the fight.

If Manny can stay within himself and do what he does best I like him in this fight due to his size, experience on the big stage, and his grappling ability. But if he goes out swinging for the fences I think Franchi will catch him. My gut here is that Manny is looking to show the WEC that he is a contender at 145 and will not be happy with a loss even an exciting one.

I’m picking Manny by decision. I think he’ll control Franchi and take him to the mat rendering his striking inefficient. Franchi can still be dangerous on the ground but given how big Manny should be, as long as Manny has top control, I see him earning a decision win with his strong grappling game.

Jens Pulver v. Josh Grispi: Pulver is 21-11-1, 1-3 in the WEC, with 16 wins by stoppage. He is a striker with solid wrestling. Grispi is 12-1, 2-0 in the WEC, with 11 wins by stoppage. He is a striker with some submission skills.

Pulver has looked over the hill as of late but considering his three losses have come from Urijah Faber (twice) and Leonard Garcia I don’t think he’s as over the hill as he’s looked. This fight will tell the real truth. Obviously both guys could stand and bang in which case I would give the advantage to Pulver.

However, if Grispi is able to get the fight to the mat, which is tough against Pulver, I think Grispi could put himself in good position to win the fight. I think the x factor in this fight comes down to how bad Pulver wants this win. If he gives it 110% and is able to stay on his feet the whole time I think Pulver can get the win. If Pulver is over MMA mentally I think Grispi could easily knock Pulver out or take him down and finish the fight.

You can call me naive but I think Pulver still has something left in the tank. I think he’ll use his wrestling to stay on the feet. Grispi is a tough kid so I don’t think Pulver will get the KO but I think he can pull out a decision victory.

Donald Cerrone v. James Krause: Cerrone is 9-1, 2-1 in the WEC, with eight wins by submission. He is a jiu-jitsu fighter with good muay thai as well. Krause is 10-0, making his WEC debut, with all 10 wins by stoppage. He is also a jiu-jitsu fighter with solid striking.

Cerrone comes out of Greg Jackson’s camp which has produced many successful fighters. He is coming off his only defeat, a controversial split decision loss to Jamie Varner for the WEC lightweight championship. I think Cerrone will want to come out and crush his next opponent to get another title shot as soon as possible. Cerrone is incredibly talented and Krause has never faced anyone on Cerrone’s level before.

This will also be a tough fight for Krause who is making his first appearance on a big show on the main card against a name opponent. While this is a great opportunity for him it might be a little overwhelming. While both of these guys are solid jiu-jitsu artists I think Cerrone will want to keep the fight on the feet where he should have the advantage.

I like Cerrone to put an end to Krause’s undefeated streak. I’m going to go out on a limb and pick Cerrone to get his first TKO victory in the second round.

Jose Aldo v. Cub Swanson: Aldo is 14-1, 4-0 in the WEC, with 11 wins by stoppage. He is a striker with some submission skills. Swanson is 13-2, 3-1 in the WEC, with six wins by submission. He is a wrestler with some jiu-jitsu.

This should be another good clash of styles. If Swanson can use his wrestling to get the fight to mat he will have a chance in this fight. However, Aldo has really been on a tear and has looked really good. I think Aldo will be able to keep the fight standing and use his vastly superior striking to win the fight.

Swanson is a tough guy so I don’t think Aldo will KO him. However, I do think Aldo is just the overall better fighter so I will pick him to win by decision.

Mike Brown v. Urijah Faber: Mike Brown is 21-4, 3-0 in the WEC, with 16 wins by stoppage. He is a grappler with strong wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and heavy hands. Faber is 22-2, 7-1 in the WEC, with 18 wins by stoppage. He is a wrestler with good striking and improving jiu-jitsu.

This rematch should be a very different fight than the lest time these two met. Faber didn’t respect Brown’s striking enough and paid for it by getting KO’d trying an unorthodox elbow strike. Faber who badly wants his belt back and to avenge his loss should come in much more prepared and probably a little more cautious.

Brown is the real deal at 145. He has no true weaknesses though technically his striking is probably not as good as Faber’s but his power makes up for it. Urijah is the better wrestler but Brown is probably the better all around grappler with his impressive submission game.

Brown comes out of a great camp at American Top Team where he trains with some real animals. These guys are both great fighters and it’s a really tough fight to pick. I think whoever wins, it should be a good fight. But I’m here to make predictions so that’s what I’m going to do.

I’m think Faber will implement a more tactical and technical striking game than last time. He will be more cautious of Brown’s power now that he knows what it feels like. I think his cardio will keep him away from Brown’s power and will create angles on his strikes that will generate points and frustrate Brown. Brown will be unable to take Faber down where he would have the advantage due to Faber’s superior wrestling.

Brown is a tough guy who should be able to last all five rounds. With all that in mind I’m going to pick Faber by decision in what might start out as a somewhat boring striking match but I think as the rounds wear on will become increasingly exciting. This win will flip flop these two atop the 145 lb rankings and set up the first super trilogy in WEC history.

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