by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
The undercard for WEC 30 is loaded with fighters looking to earn their way up the WEC’s ranks of contenders. As the promotion continues to grow, its base of quality fighters continues to expand as well.

WEC 30 takes place in The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Wednesday, Sept. 5 in Las Vegas.

Ricardo Mendoza, in the first part of his WEC 30 preview, breaks down the WEC 30 undercard, fight-by-fight.


In a battle of WEC newcomers, Next Generation fighter Ian McCall takes on F.I.T. NHB fighter Coty Wheeler. Ian McCall has a 6-0 record in MMA and trains out of Next Generation with Chris Brennan. Coty Wheeler has a 6-0 record in MMA and trains out of F.I.T. NHB with Carlos Condit. McCall comes off a stoppage victory over Rick McKorkal at BITB: SummerFist 2007. Wheeler recently submitted Cody Bell with a triangle choke at Fight World 15: Rumble at Rt. 66 Casino.

McCall has branched out recently and in addition to training with Chris Brennan, he has enlisted the help of Colin Oyama to polish up his stand-up. Wheeler has had a troubled past, but has turned his life around and now is a promising fighter in the bantamweight division.

This is a tough fight to pick, as both fighters are young and hungry to put themselves in the spotlight. McCall has a solid ground game, while Wheeler is more of a complete fighter much like his teammate Carlos Condit. Wheeler will look to use his wild stand-up to his advantage, while McCall will look to take the fight down to ground and pound out a victory over Wheeler. This should turn out to be a heck of a fight. Look for McCall to ground the fight and pound out a decision victory.

Prediction: Ian McCall by decision.


Hellhouse wrestler Joe Benoit steps in as a late replacement to take on local Las Vegas fighter Blas Avena. Joe Benoit has a 5-0 record in MMA and trains out of Hellhouse with Joey Gilbert. Blas Avena has a 5-1 record in MMA and trains out of Las Vegas. Benoit comes off a submission victory over Jay Little at XFO 18. Avena scored a very dominant submission victory over Tiki Ghosn at WEC 29.

Benoit is stepping in as a replacement for his teammate, Kevin Knabjan. Avena looked very impressive in his last fight as he absolutely dominated UFC veteran Tiki Ghosn in their 1:01 fight.

Benoit has a golden opportunity to make a name for himself in the WEC with a victory here. Avena showed a solid ground game in his past fights, while Benoit appears to be a strong wrestler. Benoit will want to rain down shots from the top, while Avena looks to lock on a submission from the bottom. What could be the telling factor in the fight is who can dictate the pace of fight on the feet and use it their advantage. Look for Benoit to use his power and finish the fight on the ground with strikes.

Prediction: Joe Benoit by TKO in the first round.


Total Combat veteran Kenneth Alexander takes on Tapout reality star Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. Kenneth Alexander has a 5-2 record in MMA and trains out Ultimate Fitness with Urijah Faber. Donald Cerrone has a 7-0 record in MMA and trains out of Jackson’s Submission Fighting with Duane “Bang” Ludwig. Alexander comes off a stoppage victory over Waachiim Spiritwolf at Tuff-N-Uff 3. Cerrone submitted Yasuyoshi Kanehara at GCM: Cage Force 3.

Alexander is stepping in as a late replacement for Sergio Gomez, who was originally slated to face off with fellow Tapout reality star Donald Cerrone. Alexander had taken a five-year hiatus from MMA before returning to action earlier this year, training with WEC Featherweight Champion Urijah Faber. Cerrone is probably one of the best young fighters not to make it into a marquee show and now has a chance to display his skills in the WEC. Cerrone is undefeated in kickboxing and has ended all of his MMA fights by submission, which shows how versatile he is.

This fight should be great as both fighters are going to display why they belong in the WEC by leaving it all in the cage. On the feet, it should be Cerrone who has the advantage, while Alexander will look to display his wrestling prowess on the ground. In the end, look for Cerrone to display his kickboxing skills and finish Alexander.

Prediction: Donald Cerrone by KO in the second round.


King of the Cage veteran Bryan Baker takes on Ultimate Fighter 3 alumni Jesse Forbes. Bryan Baker has a 4-0 record in MMA and trains out of Wildman Vale Tudo with Thomas Denny. Jesse Forbes has a 4-1 record in MMA and trains out of Arizona Combat Sports with Jamie Varner. Baker comes off a stoppage victory over Reggie Orr at King of the Cage: Collision Course. Forbes recently submitted Jesse Taylor at Tuff-N-Uff 2 with an armbar.

Baker began his MMA career this year and has already caught the eye of the WEC. Forbes is best known for being on the Ultimate Fighter 3 and has taken the last year to gain experience and polish his skills in smaller MMA shows. Baker has tons of pure talent and has quickly risen in young MMA career to be a top young prospect. Forbes will make his return to a marquee show as a more experienced and polished fighter.

This fight basically comes down to which fighter can be the first to impose his will on the fighter. Look for Forbes to use his experience to overcome the size and power of Baker to take a decision victory.

Prediction: Jesse Forbes by decision.


Alaska Fighting Championships Lightweight Champion Scott McAfee faces off with WEC veteran Marcus Hicks. Scott McAfee has a 5-0 record in MMA and trains out of Alaska. Marcus Hicks has a 6-0 record in MMA and trains out of Marcus Hicks Jiu-Jitsu in Texas. McAfee comes off a submission victory over Tim Hendricks at Alaska Fighting Championships 35. Hicks scored a submission victory over Sergio Gomez at WEC 27.

This is another potential sleeper fight of the night. Both fighters are solid and will look to move up the WEC lightweight rankings with a win. McAfee is a solid wrestler with powerful strikes, whiles Hicks main strength is on the ground with submissions. Hicks was getting tagged on feet in his WEC debut by Gomez, but his cardio paid off and he scored the come-from-behind submission victory.

McAfee will look to use the same strategy that Gomez did and use his powerful strikes to finish Hicks on the feet. Hicks will want this fight on the ground to lock on a submission. It’s going to be a war of attrition between these two. It’s going to be close, but look for McAfee to dictate the pace the feet en route to a decision victory.

Prediction: Scott McAfee by decision.


UFC veteran John Alessio takes on Brazilian striker Marcelo Brito. John Alessio has a 19-10 record in MMA and trains out of Xtreme Couture with Mike Pyle. Marcelo Brito has a 6-1 record in MMA and trains out of The Amory with Kurt Pellegrino. Alessio won a quick submission victory over Alex Serdyukov at WEC 28. Brito earned a close split decision victory over Omar de la Cruz at MMAC: The Revolution.

Alessio is slowly working his way back up to a title shot and a win here could very well earn him a rematch with Carlos Condit for the WEC Welterweight Championship. Brito will be making his WEC debut and has been training at The Amory in anticipation for his fight with Alessio.

On the feet, Brito has the advantage coming from a solid Muay Thai background, while Alessio will be the more well-versed fighter on the ground. Alessio is slick enough on the feet that he should be able to withstand Brito’s assault and get the fight on the ground. Once on the ground, look for Alessio to put Brito out of his comfort zone and end the fight with a submission.

Prediction: John Alessio by submission in the second round.