by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
JOSEPH BENAVIDEZ VS. DOMINICK CRUZ
Undefeated bantamweight prospect Joseph Benavidez faces off with Southern Californian Dominick Cruz. This is essentially a number one contender’s fight for the WEC bantamweight title, as the winner will more than likely get a shot at the title in his next fight. Expect a fast paced, back-and-forth battle.
Neither fighter is going to back down. On the feet, Cruz has a slight advantage over Benavidez. He is the more polished striker with kicks and knees. Benavidez is the better boxer of the two and posses more power in his strikes. He has the advantage on the ground with his wrestling ability and knack for locking submissions on at the right time.
Cruz will need to keep the distance and use his reach on the feet, avoiding going to the ground at all costs. For Benavidez, he’ll need to close the distance and take the fight to the ground where he can impose his will. In the end, Benavidez’s advantage might prove to be too much for Cruz.
DANNY CASTILLO VS. RICARDO LAMAS
Team Alpha Male lightweight Danny Castillo faces off with Midwest lightweight Ricardo Lamas. Both fighters come off impressive decision victories at WEC 39. A win for either fighter could put him next in line for a shot at the WEC lightweight title. This is one of the more evenly matched fights on the card, so expect a close and technical battle.
Castillo and Lamas have similar styles based on boxing and wrestling. While both have strong boxing ability, Castillo’s technique is slightly better than Lamas’ and he’ll look to exploit that. Lamas will try to get the fight on the ground, but Castillo is no slouch when it comes to wrestling. So Lamas will find some stiff resistance as he tries to get the fight down.
Each fighter will have his moments, but it will be Castillo’s slight advantage on the feet that will prove to be the difference in a closely contested battle.
JEFF CURRAN VS. TAKEYA MIZUGAKI
Former WEC title challenger Jeff Curran faces off with Cage Force bantamweight champion Takeya Mizugaki. Both fighters come off tough decision losses at WEC 40 and need a win or else they might find themselves out of the WEC. One thing that is for sure is that both fighters always come forward, so expect lots of exciting moments as these two collide in the cage.
Curran has the advantage on the ground being a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, while Mizugaki is a decent wrestler, but not too submission savvy. On the feet, Curran has some excellent boxing technique, but he lacks power. Mizugaki’s one advantage will be his striking ability; he packs a hell of a punch for a bantamweight as evidenced in his fight with Miguel Torres.
Curran’s one weakness has been his wrestling and that will cost him in this fight. He will have tons of trouble trying to get Mizugaki down on the ground. Curran is tough to finish, but expect to see Mizugaki sprawl and brawl his way to victory.
LEONARD GARCIA VS. JAMEEL MASSOUH
Former WEC featherweight title challenger Leonard Garcia takes on Midwest fighter Jameel Massouh. Both like to trade on the feet, so expect them to go headhunting from the get go. Neither fighter is a world renowned ground fighter, so don’t expect too much from these two on the ground.
Garcia is the bigger puncher of the two, while Massouh likes to incorporate knees and kicks into his striking arsenal. Look for these two to get their licks in, but Garcia will eventually land that big combination that will put an end to the fight.
FREDSON PAIXAO VS. COLE PROVINCE
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion Fredson Paixao takes on Midwest wrestler Cole Province. Coming off decision losses, both fighters need to impress the WEC brass in order to be considered near the top of the featherweight division. Paixao is the better ground fighter of the two, but they seem to have equal striking ability on the feet.
The fight will come down to ground control and Paixao should be able to control the pace of the fight en route to a decision victory.
MARCUS HICKS VS. SHANE ROLLER
Texan lightweight Marcus Hicks takes on former NCAA wrestling champion Shane Roller. A win for either fighter puts him back in the thick of the WEC lightweight title chase. Hicks has the advantage on the feet with his boxing ability, while on the ground both fighters have their different strengths. Hicks is a submission fighter, while Roller is a very accomplished wrestler.
Both fighters have used the guillotine choke to success. For that fact, Roller will use his wrestling to win a close decision over Hicks by staying out of the guillotine and pounding on him.
ED RATCLIFF VS. PHIL CARDELLA
Eccentric karate stylist Ed Ratcliff takes on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lightweight Phil Cardella. Each needs a win to survive in the WEC, as the loser will have back-to-back losses in the promotion. This is really a clash of styles with Ratcliff being a karate stylist and Cardella a ground fighter. Don’t expect the fight to last too long as it’s going to be a knockout or a submission.
Ratcliff will be able to get his shots in but Cardella will eventually get the fight on the ground. When that happens, it won’t be too long until he locks on a submission.
RANI YAHYA VS. JOHN HOSMAN
ADCC grappling champion Rani Yahya takes on Midwest wrestling standout John Hosman. Yahya was originally scheduled to fight Kenji Osawa, but an injury forced him out and Hosman replaces him on late notice. Yahya is leagues better on the ground then Hosman. If the fight stays on the feet, however, Hosman has a good chance to catch Yahya, who’s striking still leaves a lot to be desired.
The fight will eventually hit the ground and it won’t be too long before Yahya ends it with a submission.
DIEGO NUNES VS. RAFAEL DIAS
Brazilian featherweight Diego Nunes takes on American Top Team fighter Rafael Dias. Nunes comes off a close decision victory in his WEC debut over Cole Province, while Dias won a decision over Mike Budnik at WEC 40. Both fighters are skilled ground fighters, so expect a fierce ground battle to ensue.
Neither fighter is going to be shy about fighting on the ground, but the edge on the feet goes to Nunes, which will be just enough to help him win a close decision.
LC DAVIS VS. JAVIER VAZQUEZ
Midwest featherweight wrestler LC Davis takes on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter Javier Vazquez. These two were originally scheduled to fight at Affliction “Trilogy,” but after that promotion’s demise, they were moved to the WEC to fight a week later than scheduled. Davis is a strong wrestler and has used that to success, but his overall ground game was exposed in his last fight with Michihiro Omigawa. Vazquez returned to action two months ago after a brief retirement, look for him to use his skilled ground game to outhustle Davis en route to a decision.