by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
WEC FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT:
URIJAH FABER VS. MIKE BROWN
WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber defends his title against American Top Team fighter Mike Brown. Faber comes off a dominant decision victory over former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver at WEC 34, while Brown won a decision over UFC veteran Jeff Curran earlier in the show.
These two were originally scheduled to meet back in September, but Hurricane Ike put a stop to that when the entire card was postponed. A side benefit that both fighters received because of the postponement was more time to prepare for the fight and to heal up any nagging injuries.
Faber is the quicker and more technical fighter of the two both on the feet and on the ground. The one big advantage that Brown does have over Faber is his size and strength advantage. His strategy will be to bully Faber against the cage and take the fight to the ground where he can smoother Faber with close quarter strikes.
On the other hand, Faber will look to use his speed and technique to overcome the size disadvantage. He’ll need to use angles and keep his distance from Brown in order to avoid being taken to the ground. If the fight does goes to the ground, look for Faber to use scrambles to get out of bad positions and gain the advantage. Expect Faber to use his speed and technique to tire out Brown and lock on a submission midway through the fight.
WEC MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT:
PAULO FILHO VS. CHAEL SONNEN
WEC middleweight champion Paulo Filho defends his title against Team Quest middleweight Chael Sonnen for a second time. Filho comes off a submission victory over Chael Sonnen at WEC 31, while Sonnen won a rather lopsided decision over Bryan Baker at WEC 33.
The first time these two fought it ended in controversial fashion when it looked like the referee stopped the fight without Sonnen tapping out to an armbar from Filho after having dominated the fight. However, re-watching the ending, it appears that Sonnen screamed out “tap,” which forced he referee to stop the fight.
Filho is the better fighter on the ground when it comes to submissions, while Sonnen is the better wrestler and uses it to his advantage with a strong ground and pound attack. On the feet, neither fighter has a distinct advantage over the other, so whoever lands the first big shot could very well win.
Filho pulled out of the original rematch due to personal issues that forced him into drug rehab. Now it seems that he has pulled himself together and is ready to get back in the cage. This time around expect Filho to be sharper and more into the fight, getting it to the ground early and exploiting Sonnen’s lack of submission defense to lock on a finishing hold late in the opening round.
JENS PULVER VS. LEONARD GARCIA
Former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver faces off with UFC veteran Leonard Garcia in a vital featherweight showdown. Pulver comes off a decision loss to WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber at WEC 34, while Garcia stopped Shooto veteran Hiroyuki Takaya with strikes at WEC 32.
This should be an all out war on the feet as both fighters have shown an affinity for throwing reckless leather on the feet. This is an important fight in the featherweight division because the winner could very well be a fight away from challenging for the WEC featherweight championship.
Pulver has the edge when it comes to technique on the feet, but Garcia has the edge when it comes to one-shot power in his hands. If the fight goes to the ground, Pulver will have the edge because of his wrestling experience and tenacity to get out of bad positions on the ground.
This will be one of the better fights of the night as these two are going to light up the cage with tons of fireworks on the feet. Look for Pulver’s chin to get tested in this fight, but expect him to fight a smart fight. When he’s in trouble he’ll take the fight to the ground and work-over Garcia with strikes and that’s what makes the difference in Pulver winning a close decision.
JAKE ROSHOLT VS. NISSEN OSTERNECK
NCAA wrestling champion Jake Rosholt makes his WEC debut against fellow newcomer Nissen Osterneck. Rosholt comes off a stoppage victory over Chad Jay at Extreme Fighting League, while Osterneck submitted Freddie Espiricueta at HDNet Fights: Reckless Abandon.
Both of these fighters are undefeated and are two of the brighter prospects in the middleweight division. It’s a shame that one of them will get his first career loss. On the other hand, that should be motivation enough for both fighters to fight at their absolute best.
Rosholt has the edge on the ground when it comes to wrestling, but on the other hand Osterneck has shown that he is more than capable on the ground, especially in the submission department. The key in the fight will be which fighter will be able to get the upper hand on the feet in order to control the fight and its pace.
Too bad these two fighters won’t get a chance to gain some experience in the WEC, as more than likely this will be their only fight in the WEC as the promotion deactivates the division at the end of this year. Look for Rosholt to take the fight to the ground and use good positioning to frustrate Osterneck to win a decision.
“RAZOR” ROB MCCULLOUGH VS. DONALD CERRONE
Former WEC lightweight champion “Razor” Rob McCullough takes on rising lightweight star Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. This is more or less a number one contender’s match for the WEC lightweight title, as the winner is likely to get the next shot at current champ Jamie Varner. Both fighters are technically strikers, but Cerrone has shown that he has an affinity for submissions as he has tapped out all eight of his opponents (actually nine, but one submission win was changed to a “no contest” when Cerrone failed his post-fight drug test). Look for Cerrone to hurt McCullough on the feet, and then as the fight goes to the ground he will lock on a submission to punch his ticket to a title shot.
JOSE ALDO VS. JONATHAN BROOKINS
Nova Uniao featherweight Jose Aldo faces off with local fighter Jonathan Brookins. Aldo made an impressive debut in stopping former Shooto champion Alexandre Franca Nogueira. This will be Brookins’ debut in the WEC and it won’t be an easy one. Aldo seems to have the edge both on the feet and on the ground. Expect him to be aggressive on the feet, not letting up, and finishing off the newcomer with strikes on the ground.
YOSHIRO MAEDA VS. RANI YAHYA
Pancrase standout Yoshiro Maeda faces off with grappling wizard Rani Yahya. Both of these fighters have already challenged for the WEC bantamweight title and neither came out successful. Maeda looked good in a losing effort, giving Miguel Torres his toughest fight to date. Look for Maeda to expose Yahya on the feet while avoiding getting taken to the ground, and landing a big shot to put Yahya’s lights out for good.
DANNY CASTILLO VS. RAFAEL DIAS
Californian freestyle fighter Danny Castillo takes on last minute replacement Rafael Dias. Castillo was undefeated until losing in his WEC debut on short notice, while Dias has fought in both the featherweight and lightweight divisions. Castillo is the better overall fighter when it comes to striking and wrestling, while Dias has the edge on the ground with submissions. Look for Castillo to punish Dias on the feet and take the fight to the ground, where he’ll finish him off with strikes.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT:
STEVE STEINBEISS VS. CARMELO MARRERO
Arizona Combat Sports fighter Steve Steinbeiss takes on UFC veteran Carmelo Marrero. Marrero steps in at the last minute to take on Steinbeiss. Both fighters are primarily wrestlers, but the key will be which fighter can dictate the stand-up game. This is more or so a tryout fight as the winner will probably move on to the UFC. Look for Steinbeiss to use his striking to get an upper hand over Marrero and finish him off with strikes midway through the fight.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT:
DAVID AVELLAN VS. AARON SIMPSON
Local grappling legend David Avellan takes on former NCAA wrestling standout Aaron Simpson. Both fighters are inexperienced in mixed martial arts, but have he upsides because of their solid backgrounds in fighting. Simpson should be able to use his wrestling to great effect as he’ll take the fight to the ground and stay out of Avellan’s submissions to pound out a decision victory.