by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
The undercard for WEC 29 is full of intriguing fights that should establish a contender or two in the middleweight division and give a chance for several fighters coming off losses to get back on the winning track.
HIROMITSU MIURA VS. FERNANDO GONZALEZ
HEROS veteran Hiromitsu Miura returns to take on up and coming WEC veteran Fernando Gonzalez. Hiromitsu Miura has a 6-4 record in MMA and trains out of Samurai Sword with Keigo Takamori. Fernando Gonzalez has a 12-3 record in MMA and trains out of Team Quest with Jason “Mayhem” Miller. Miura comes off a decision loss to Gonzalez’s teammate Jason Miller at WEC 27. Gonzalez recently stopped Joe Atoe with strikes at MMAX 12.
Miura was impressive in defeat as he gave Miller all he could handle, taking the second round with his superior striking and showing excellent submission defense. Gonzalez lost a decision in his last WEC appearance to journeyman Brendan Seguin at WEC 25. He was unable to effectively defend a takedown throughout the fight and lost a lopsided decision. Both fighters excel on the feet, so expect the fight to be a slugfest. Gonzalez has faced the stiffer competition of the two fighters and that should give him a slight edge. Miura’s problem is that he has good striking, but lacks power in his shots and that should be the biggest factor in the fight. Look for both fighters to trade on the feet and for Gonzalez to hurt Miura, finishing him with strikes.
Prediction: Fernando Gonzalez by TKO in the first round.
JUSTIN ROBBINS VS. ANTONIO BANUELOS
KOTC veteran Justin Robbins makes his WEC debut against former WEC Bantamweight Champion Antonio Banuelos. Justin Robbins has a 9-2-1 record in MMA and is a freelance fighter out of Illinois. Antonio Banuelos has a 13-4 record in MMA and trains out of The Pit with Chuck Liddell. Robbins comes off a decision victory over Zack Jenkins at Shootfighting Challenge: Capital Punishment. Banuelos comes off a disappointing knockout loss to Charlie Valencia at WEC 26.
Robbins is a wrestler from the Midwest and has racked up some solid wins over the past year, earning himself a shot in the WEC. Banuelos was working his way back up to a shot for the WEC Bantamweight Championship until his hopes were derailed by a Charlie Valencia uppercut in his last fight. Banuelos needs a win here to put him back into title contention. For Robbins a win would instantly assure him a home in the WEC. Robbins is primarily a wrestler, so he needs to get this fight to the ground quickly. Banuelos started out as a wrestler, but has quickly evolved into a solid striker as well under the tutelage of John Hackleman. On the feet, Banuelos has the advantage and he’ll need to use that in order to exploit Robbins’ weakness on the feet. Banuelos needs the win bad, so look for him to dictate the pace of the fight on the feet and finish the less experienced Robbins with strikes.
Prediction: Antonio Banuelos by TKO in the third round.
LOGAN CLARK VS. ERIC SCHAMBARI
In a battle of undefeated fighters, Midwest fighter Logan Clark meets Cobra Kai’s Eric Schambari. Logan Clark has a 9-0 record in MMA and trains out of Team Extreme with Brock Larson. Eric Schambari has a 6-0 record in MMA and trains out Cobra Kai Jiu-Jitsu with Joe Stevenson. Clark comes off a stoppage victory over Blas Avena at WEC 25. Schambari comes off a dominating decision victory over Art Santore at WEC 27.
This fight is going to go a long way in determining a future contender in the WEC middleweight division, neither fighter is near ready to take a crack at the championship, but the winner puts himself in a good spot for a shot down the line. Clark fought a hard and grueling battle with Blas Avena in his WEC debut, eventually getting the win after wearing down the less experienced Avena. Schambari started his career at heavyweight and has slimmed all the way down to middleweight and has finally found a home in the WEC. Without a doubt Schambari is the better ground fighter of the two, but Clark showed tremendous heart in his last fight by escaping a tight armbar. Look for Schambari to take this fight to the ground and use his superior technique to outwork Clark en route to a decision.
Prediction: Eric Schambari by decision.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT:
STEVE CANTWELL VS. JUSTIN MCELFRESH
Jungle Fight veteran Steve Cantwell takes on XFO Light Heavyweight Champion Justin McElfresh. Steve Cantwell has a 3-1 record in MMA and is a freelance fighter out of Nevada. Justin McElfresh has a 5-2 record in MMA and is a freelance fighter out of Ohio. Cantwell comes off a disappointing stoppage loss to rising WEC star Brian Stann at WEC 26. McElfresh comes off an unsuccessful attempt at becoming the WEC Light Heavyweight Champion, losing by knockout to Doug Marshall at WEC 27.
Both fighters are coming off losses to some of the top talent in the WEC Light Heavyweight division and whoever wins will put himself back in the mix. Cantwell never really got a chance to get going with Stann as he was taken out rather quickly by the US Marine. McElfresh did show some flashes of brilliance against Marshall before being knocked out by the champion. I doubt this fight is going to hit the ground, so expect it to be fought out on the feet. McElfresh needs to use his significant reach advantage in the clinch with knees to hurt Cantwell. Cantwell needs to gauge the distance and effectively potshot in order to land the big blow he needs to win. In the end look for McElfresh to use his reach and finish Cantwell.
Prediction: Justin McElfresh by KO in the first round.
BLAS AVENA VS. TIKI GHOSN
Hometown fighter Blas Avena faces his second straight UFC veteran as he takes on Team Punishment fighter Tiki Ghosn. Blas Avena has a 4-1 record in MMA and is a freelance fighter out of Nevada. Tiki Ghosn has a 9-6 record in MMA and trains out of Team Punishment with Tito Ortiz. Avena comes off a stoppage loss to Logan Clark at WEC 25. Tiki comes off a disappointing loss to Dave Terrel at WEC 26.
Basically this is a loser leaves town match between two fighters that need a win in order to stay alive in the WEC. Avena is a young fighter that may have been brought in to the WEC a little too soon as it showed in his debut against Clark. Tiki is coming off three straight losses and needs a win really bad to keep his MMA career alive. Tiki was dominating his last fight up until he gassed out and got caught with a flurry that he was never able to recover from. The bottom line is that Tiki should be able to use his experience and superior striking to finish off the inexperienced Avena within the distance.
Prediction: Tiki Ghosn by TKO in the second round.