by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
Two title fights highlight an excellent card that has been put together by the WEC. In addition, another contender for the lightweight division will be determined and a possible challenger for the featherweight title could be established.
WEC WELTERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT:
CARLOS CONDIT VS. BROCK LARSON
WEC Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit defends his title against UFC veteran Brock Larson. Carlos Condit has a 20-4 record in MMA and trains out of Fit NHB with Thomas Schulte. Brock Larson has a 21-1 record in MMA and trains out of Team Extreme with Logan Clark. Condit comes off a submission victory over John Alessio at WEC 26, becoming the WEC Welterweight Champion in the process. Larson recently stopped Kevin Knabjan at WEC 28 with strikes.
These two were supposed to meet at WEC 28, but a shoulder injury prevented Condit from defending his title. Larson made a statement at WEC 28, easily disposing of late replacement Kevin Knabjan and showing that he indeed is the number one contender for the title.
Condit is a very well rounded fighter and has proven that in his past couple of fights, showing that he is well versed on the ground and not just the feet. Larson is an absolute beast that uses his size and power to steamroll over his opponents, but doing that to Condit might be more difficult then he thinks. Condit is a tall lanky fighter that is good at getting back to his feet and not being pinned down on the ground. Larson is going to try and keep Condit on his back, landing enough strikes to be effective and not get the fight stood back up. Condit needs to keep the fight on its feet and use those knees in the clinch as that’s been the key to his success in the past. It’s going to be a hard fought battle between two top fighters, but I see Condit being able to dictate the pace of the fight on the feet and winning a decision.
Prediction: Carlos Condit by decision.
WEC MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT:
PAULO FILHO VS. JOE DOERKSEN
Pride veteran Paulo Filho makes his U.S. debut against UFC veteran Joe Doerksen with the vacant WEC Middleweight Championship on the line. Paulo Filho has a 14-0 record in MMA and trains out of Black House with Anderson Silva. Joe Doerksen has a 39-9 record in MMA and trains out of Team Extreme with Jeremy Horn. Filho comes off a fairly easy submission win over Pride Welterweight GP 2006 Champion Kazuo Misaki at Pride Bushido 13. Doerksen comes off a stoppage victory over BJ Lacy at Gladiators Fighting Series: Colosseum 5.
Filho made a name for himself in Pride, dominating the competition with his superior ground game, but unfortunately injuries prevented him from becoming a champion in Pride. He submitted Misaki with ease in the semi-finals of the Pride Welterweight GP 2006 and was only one fight from claiming his first title in MMA, but an injury prevented him from moving on and Misaki eventually became champion in his place. Doerksen is probably one of the best grapplers in the middleweight division but hasn’t gotten a chance to display his talents as he has faltered in his UFC appearances.
This fight is going to be more competitive than most people think. Look for Doerksen to display his grappling against Filho and for him to take advantage on the feet. Filho will look to take the fight to the ground and work his ground magic against Doerksen. At the end of the day, Filho is going to be too much for the veteran Doerksen and will lock on a submission late in the fight to become the new WEC Middleweight Champion.
Prediction: Paulo Filho by submission in the fourth round.
JEFF CURRAN VS. STEPHEN LEDBETTER
UFC veteran Jeff Curran makes his WEC return against newcomer Stephen Ledbetter. Jeff Curran has a 30-8-1 record in MMA and trains out of Team Curran with Matt Fiordirosa. Stephen Ledbetter has a 5-0 record in MMA and trains out of the Hardcore Gym with Brian Bowles. Curran comes off a close split decision win over John Mahlow at KOTC: Damage Control. Ledbetter last saw action at Full Throttle 7, submitting Danny Rodriguez.
Curran will be making his long anticipated return to the WEC after a five-year hiatus to find bigger opportunities at lightweight. Both fighters will be moving down to featherweight after fighting at lightweight against larger opponents. Curran is long considered to be one of the best fighters at featherweight, but limited opportunities at featherweight forced him to fight out his weight class, but now the WEC has given him a chance to fight at featherweight. Ledbetter is a virtual unknown, but just like his teammates, who have debuted in the WEC, he could impress.
Look for Curran to control the pace of the fight with fluid combinations on the feet and take it to the ground, where he will look to end the fight with a submission. Ledbetter will want to take the fight to the ground and use his wrestling to out hustle Curran on the ground. In the end, look for Curran to win a hard fought decision over the inexperienced Ledbetter.
Prediction: Jeff Curran by decision.
SHERRON LEGGETT VS. JAMIE VARNER
WEC veteran Sherron “Rob Roy” Leggett takes on UFC veteran Jamie Varner. Sherron Leggett has a 13-3 record in MMA and trains out of the Freestyle Academy with Dave Strasser. Jamie Varner has a 12-2 record in MMA and trains out of Arizona Combat Sports with Jesse Moreng. Leggett comes off a stoppage victory over Charlie Kohler at WEC 27 in his WEC debut. Varner comes off a fairly easy submission victory over Jason Gilliam at UFC 68.
This is a number one contender fight for the WEC Lightweight Championship with the winner getting the next crack at the title. Leggett looked impressive in his WEC debut even though he took the fight on only a couple days’ notice. He used his wrestling and dominated a very game Kohler, who almost submitted Leggett on several occasions during the fight. Varner gave Hermes Franca all he could handle in his UFC debut, but eventually succumbed to Franca’s superior ground game.
This is going to be a great fight. On the feet, Varner holds the advantage being a former amateur boxing champion. On the ground, both fighters are fairly equal in wrestling technique, but it’s hard to grasp who the better fighter is at submissions. Look for Varner to control the fight on the feet, while Leggett will want it on the ground in order to pound out a victory. Leggett should have better cardio than he did in his last fight and it should help, but he is going to fall short and lose a close decision to Varner.
Prediction: Jamie Varner by decision.