by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
MIKE CAMPBELL VS. DANILLO VILLEFORT
This will be both fighters’ debut in the WEC with Villefort moving down from middleweight. Campbell is an undefeated prospect fighting out of Boston, Mass., training with the likes of Kenny Florian and Mark DellaGrotte. Villefort is a known commodity, having made his first national appearance on the last ever IFL show, where he submitted UFC middleweight Mike Massenzio.
Both fighters are getting a huge opportunity, as they will be featured on the televised portion of the show, giving them exposure to a huge national audience. With the lack of challengers to WEC welterweight champion Carlos Condit, the winner of this fight could see himself challenging for a title with a victory on Sunday night.
Campbell is a former bodybuilder turned fighter, so look for him to pack a lot power and strength in a small welterweight frame. Villefort’s advantage in the fight will be his ground game, as he’ll look to use his submission expertise to his advantage. With both fighters debuting on a fairly big stage, it will be interesting to see who is better equipped mentally to deal with pressure of the spotlight.
For Campbell to be successful, he’ll need to keep the fight on the feet, where he can put some of that training from Mark DellaGrotte to good use. Villefort on the other hand needs to get the fight down and use his superior ground game to overwhelm Campbell into making a mistake that will play into his advantage.
JOSE ALDO VS. ROLANDO PEREZ
This will be Aldo’s third fight with the WEC and he is inching closer to a possible title shot sometime later this year. Perez will be making his WEC debut as a replacement to Aldo’s original opponent, Fredson Paixao. Aldo has been on an absolute tear in the last couple of years, dropping only one fight, to Pride veteran Luciano Azevedo, the lone loss in his career.
There could be a lot pressure on Perez as he will not only be fighting in front of his home crowd, but will also be fighting in front of a larger crowd on television. On the other hand, if he can deal with the pressure and defeat Aldo, then he’ll instantly make a splash in the featherweight division.
Aldo should have the advantage in almost every aspect of the fight. On the feet he has become a polished striker. On the ground he has a black belt from Nova Uniao and has a distinct experience advantage over the newcomer. Not very much is known about Perez except for that he trains with UFC veteran Brandon Vera at The Alliance training center.
Aldo pretty much has his choice of how he wants the fight to play out, whether it be on the feet or on the ground. The only thing that he must not do is underestimate Perez, who is a dangerous fighter just for the simple fact that he has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
BEN HENDERSON VS. ANTHONY NJOKUANI
In a battle of WEC newcomers, dynamic wrestler Ben Henderson faces off with striker Anthony Njokuani. Both fighters will be making their WEC debuts. Henderson taking the fight on short notice after Njokuani’s original opponent, Ed Ratcliff, bowed out due to injury. Whichever fighter is able to come out victorious, he will put himself in good position to move up the lightweight ladder in the WEC.
Both fighters have tasted defeat only once and it was early in their careers, so neither fighter has much experience in dealing with adversity. Henderson has the edge on the ground with a blossoming submission game and his wrestling experience. Njokuani has the advantage on the feet with his distinct kickboxing ability and powerful strikes.
This is a classic grappler vs. striker match-up, whichever fighter can get the fight to where they want it will pretty much have the fight wrapped up, as long as they can take care of business and don’t screw up the opportunity to finish the fight.
DOMINICK CRUZ VS. IAN MCCALL
In a battle of local bantamweight fighters, the eccentric Ian McCall faces off with the San Diego based Dominick Cruz. This should be an exciting fight between two very dynamic fighters that move at a lighting quick pace.
Cruz seems to be the better fighter on the feet, as evidenced in his last WEC appearance, where he used some technical kickboxing to win a decision over Charlie Valencia. McCall is probably the better fighter on the ground because of a slight wrestling advantage that he holds over Cruz.
If Cruz can keep the fight on the feet then it will only be a matter of time before he lands a devastating combination that will have McCall on the run. McCall will need to slow the pace of the fight and get it to the ground, where he’ll look to land some ground and pound to wear down Cruz.
HIROMITSU MIURA VS. EDGAR GARCIA
WEC title challenger Hiromitsu Miura makes his return to the cage after losing a back and forth battle to champion Carlos Condit to take on newcomer Edgar Garcia. These two are going to come out swinging, so don’t expect the fight to last too long as both fighters pack quite a punch.
Miura should have the edge on the ground. He is very well versed in Judo and has shown that he can take the fight to the ground with his sensational Judo throws. Not much is known about Garcia, but word has it that he packs a lot of power in his punches, so he’ll probably have the edge on the feet just because he has the ability to finish with one blow.
If Miura can get the fight to the ground then he’ll likely use his Judo background to look for a submission or perhaps an advantageous position where he can finish the fight with strikes. Garcia would probably like to keep the fight on the feet, where he’ll look for the knockout.
SCOTT JORGENSEN VS. FRANK GOMEZ
Former NCAA wrestling standout Scott Jorgensen looks to get his WEC record over five hundred as he faces off with WEC newcomer Frank Gomez. If Jorgensen can get another victory then he’ll put himself in a great position to possibly challenge for the title sometime later this year.
Jorgensen has the huge advantage on the ground with his decorated wrestling background that he has used effectively in all of his mixed martial arts victories. Not much is known about Gomez, but he is a young fighter with a lot to gain if he is able to win in his WEC debut. Look for Jorgensen to get the fight to the ground and wear out Gomez, while Gomez needs to stay off his back if he wants to be successful.
JESSE LENNOX VS. BLAS AVENA
This could be a sleeper fight of the night as two exciting welterweight prospects square off. Las Vegas based Blas Avena faces off against Miletich trained Jesse Lennox. These two fighters are some of the best prospects in the welterweight division, so it will be exciting to see them clash, with one moving one step closer to a title shot.
Avena has fought only top talent in the WEC, never really having a chance to gain experience in smaller shows and that has helped speed his development as a fighter. Lennox has been tearing through the competition in the Midwest, but hasn’t faced the level of talent that Avena has.
Both fighters have shown they love to fight on the ground and go for submissions, so a key factor could be which fighter is able to establish himself on the feet. On the ground, the slight edge will have to go to Avena just for the fact that he has faced the better competition of the two. However the fight plays out expect one thing, it will likely end on the ground.
CHARLIE VALENCIA VS. SETH DIKUN
Mixed martial arts veteran Charlie Valencia faces off with WEC newcomer Seth Dikun. Valencia had a rough 2008, but he’ll look to turn that around against Dikun by opening 2009 with a victory. Dikun trains with Thomas Denny, so expect him to come prepared to fight an all out war against the rugged veteran.
Both fighters have similar styles in that they are very well rounded in all areas of the fight game. The one factor that will tilt the fight to either fighter’s advantage will be who is able to control the pace on the feet and not let his opponent get settled.