BloodyElbow.com Staff Predictions for WEC 41: JUNE 7, 2009
Main Card Bouts:
Mike Brown (21-4) vs. Urijah Faber (22-2)
Luke Thomas: I've been championing Brown for this affair publicly for reasons of Faber's recklessness with Brown's patient defensiveness/fight-altering punching power. But I do want to give Faber his due. Faber's speed partly baits him into that creative liability situation, but it also allows him to beat Brown to the punch. In their first fight, several jabs and right straights landed before Brown ever had a chance to respond. If Faber can tweak his style enough to keep the fight at a distance and use movement and speed, he can accumulate damage and win points. My guess is the downfall in that style is the inability to put enough mustard on the punches to put away a fighter who needs one punch to blow your brains out. Over time, Brown takes it, but even Brown supporters really need to think about and remind themselves what assets Faber brings to the table as well. Brown by decision.
Kid Nate: I'm staggered that Faber is the oddsmaker's favorite in this matchup. Brown is just too big and too powerful for the wild and risk-taking Faber. I hate to see Urijah's run at Featherweight come to an end, but the upside is we'll get to see Faber vs Torres soon enough. Brown by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: The trick to this fight is that Brown is huge and on top of that he is so technically sound. Faber has been able to muscle around smaller guys and use a style that leaves him open to guys like Brown. I don't think Urijah has the kind of style of "just wait for your chance" that you need to beat Brown, he wants to gogogogogo and force an opening. It cost him the first time around and it will cost him this time also. Brown by TKO, round 2.
Mike Fagan: I'm still not sure why WEC felt the need to put on Faber/Pulver II in the interim, but we're getting the rematch so all is well. I'm not sure what changes though. Brown's still bigger and stronger. Faber, unless he's changed his outlook on fighting, is still the guy that's a little wild, a little aggressive, and a little too willing to take risks. I think it'll last longer than their first fight, and I wouldn't be surprised to see this go all five rounds. I picture Brown outmuscling Faber en route to victory. Brown by TKO, round 3.
Eugene Schelfaut: Faber said at the pre-fight presser that he "doesn't really know" if he will be more cautious in this fight than in the first. In his rematch with Pulver, Faber showed what he can do with focus. Against Brown, however, Urijah's gameplan will recede as the rounds accumulate. The looser and less cautious Faber will then fall in the championship rounds to the grinder which is Brown. Brown by TKO, Round 4.
Leland Roling: Mike Brown has all the tools to once again defeat Urijah Faber. He'll have massive knockout power, solid takedown defense, equal if not more strength, and the ground acumen to defend Faber's ground game along with putting Faber in danger of the submission. Training at American Top Team is exactly what Brown needed to progress to this level. Faber is normally a wild and aggressive fighter, but I fear he may try to wait out Brown, which doesn't bode well for him either. Brown by TKO, Round 2.
Jose Aldo (14-1) vs. Cub Swanson (13-2)
Luke Thomas: I believe I've been saying publicly that Aldo was the favorite, but for official picking purposes, I'm liking what I'm seeing in Swanson. He's matured and improved training, earned his BJJ black belt, and appears to be really focused in on the task ahead of him. Aldo should win this, but I'll take a chance on Swanson and give him the nod. Swanson by decision.
Kid Nate: Aldo should better Swanson, who's a talented fighter, but is going to be coming up short in the skills assessment of this fight, both on the feet and on the ground. Aldo by KO.
Brent Brookhouse: Aldo is a blast to watch. Powerful, fast hands and a ton of energy. He's up around #7 in the division right now and Swanson is a really nice fight to "prove" he belongs there. I don't want to sleep on Cub but this is kind of an ugly fight for him and should set Aldo up for a big fight in his next outing. Aldo by KO, round 1.
Mike Fagan: This is a good step up for Aldo, and I think he'll live up to the hype. Kid's just got outstanding handspeed that few people can match in MMA. Jose Aldo by TKO, round 2.
Eugene Schelfaut: Jose Aldo has a significantly greater chance of ending this on the feet than if Swanson is able to score a takedown and play top position. Every fight starts standing up, and that is where Aldo will win this one. Aldo by TKO, Round 1.
Leland Roling: Solid matchmaking by the WEC. Aldo needed a drastic step up in competition, and Swanson provides a formidable task. Cub won't have the reaction time to contend with Aldo's powerful, quick blows. Look for Nova Uniao to continue unloading prospects like Aldo to the bigger shows and impressively score big wins. Jose Aldo via TKO, Round 2.
James Krause (10-0) vs. Donald Cerrone (9-1)
Luke Thomas: Krause is good, but Cerrone is a better version of him. Cerrone by decision.
Kid Nate: Krause should be exposed by the dangerous Cowboy Cerrone who'll be looking to get back into title contention with a showcase win here. Cerrone by submission after inflicting a beating on the feet.
Brent Brookhouse: The thing I don't like about Cerrone is he can get a little careless which is why I'm not as high on him as many others seem to be. Still, Krause is going to lose on the feet and while he has good submission skills I think he'll have a hell of a time A) getting the fight to the ground and B) catching Donald in a sub before he can get back to his feet. Cerrone by dominant decision.
Mike Fagan: Another step up for a guy, but I don't think Krause will be as fortunate as Aldo. Cerrone's gone toe-to-toe with the guy's at the top of the WEC 155 division, and he'll be too much for Krause. Cerrone by submission, round 1.
Eugene Schelfaut: Cerrone is the more complete fighter who has faced better competition. Cerrone by submission, Round 2.
Leland Roling: If Krause was a highly-touted striker, this may go a bit different, but Cerrone's ground acumen is very good. He has a smothering guard game, and he's one of the few guys in the WEC that transitions fairly quickly to submissions. Krause will want to bring the fight to his strengths, but I fear Cerrone is better on the ground as well. Donald Cerrone via submission, Round 1.
Josh Grispi (12-1) vs. Jens Pulver (22-11-1)
Luke Thomas: I just don't see how Pulver wins this unless Grispi abandons a game plan or comes in very flat. I have much respect for Pulver, but he's got to win here tonight for any real hope of a future in the WEC or maybe even MMA. I hope I am wrong. Grispi by submission, round 1.
Kid Nate: I hate to see this fight as I think Grispi is a prospect on the rise and I don't see how the fast-fading Pulver stops him. Grispi by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: Grispi is a real prospect and has a well rounded game. Unfortunately I think we're going to see another crying Jens talking about retirement after this fight. The one thing that troubles me with Grispi is the speed with which he has finished guys to this point in his career. With prospects I like to see a high finish percentage which Josh has, but I'm always a little wary of guys with a lot of wins in under 2 minutes because it doesn't really give any insight into how they handle a tough fight that goes into the second round. What I'll be looking for is if Jens can play it safe and push Grispi into the second round. If he can force Grispi into a bit of a grueling fight maybe he can shake his confidence a little. Still, you have to take Josh here considering how quickly Jens' skills seem to be deteriorating. Josh Grispi by TKO, round 1.
Mike Fagan: Despite his nickname, Grispi's no fluke, and I think it's safe to say that Pulver's on the downside of his career. Grispi by TKO, round 2.
Eugene Schelfaut: Pulver will come out trying to prove he is still relevant. I don't think his chin can handle any mistakes and Grispi will eventually get through. Grispi by KO, round 1.
Leland Roling: I love Jens Pulver, but I think this is a matchup in which the torch could be passed. Grispi is a bright up-and-coming prospect with youth and aggressiveness on his side. He is very well-rounded, and he has shown some dynamic striking capabilities in his short career. Jens will need to use his experience and boxing to overwhelm Grispi. It isn't very often fans take experience over such a youthful beast like Grispi, so I'll get on the Pulver warwagon for this one. Don't count on me betting on Jens though. Jens Pulver via decision.
Manny Gamburyan (8-4) vs. John Franchi (5-0)
Luke Thomas: Franchi's legit, but I'm betting on a physically dominating and controlling Gamburyan. Gamburyan by decision.
Kid Nate: Manny ought to be a powerhouse at 145. There's a risk at overlooking the talented Franchi, but I think Gamburyan's smothering style won't leave him any openings to show what he can do. Gamburyan by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: 145 is going to treat Manny very nicely IF he can stay healthy. Franchi is a decent fighter and may make some noise in the next few years but he doesn't have the big stage experience of Gamburyan and I don't think he'll have an answer to his strength and style either. Gamburyan by TKO, round 1.
Mike Fagan: Gamburyan's finally moving down in weight, and I think it's a good move for him. Gamburyan by TKO, round 1.
Eugene Schelfaut: If Gamburyan can stay in one piece he has the tools to end this on the ground or ride out a decision. Gamburyan by submission, Round 2.
Leland Roling: People are overlooking Franchi a bit in this matchup, in my opinion, but that doesn't counter the fact that Gamburyan is perfectly content with powering through Franchi and putting him on his back repeatedly. Gamburyan via TKO, Round 2
Rafael Rebello (5-3) Vs. Kyle Dietz (5-0)
Luke Thomas: Rebello's record is somewhat deceptive as he's got some losses to very legitimate and in some cases experienced veterans. Add to that Dietz's penchant for trying to finish fights on the floor and I'm betting Rebello comes out on top. Rebello by submission, round 2.
Eugene Schelfaut: Dietz will stiffle the submission game of Rebello and earn the victory with strikes on the floor. Dietz by TKO, Round 2.
Leland Roling: Rebello is a BJJ Black Belt and BJJ champion who trains out of American Top Team. It should be a winning combination, but Rebello has had a tough time. He should be tough to finish, and be superior on the floor. Rafael Rebello via submission, Round 1
Mike Campbell (4-1) vs. Anthony Pettis (6-0)
Luke Thomas: Pettis is talented, but Campbell's got the bruising style to give him all sorts of problems. Campbell by TKO, round 1.
Kid Nate: Raw power in the form of powerlifter Mike Campbell agaisnt a more traditionally well-rounded martial artist in Pettis. I like Pettis here, I'm always skeptical of the cardio of these muscle guys and I think Pettis will take Campbell into the deep waters and drown him there. Pettis by submission.
Eugene Schelfaut: Pettis will flurry on the feet with enough to end Campbell's night. Pettis by KO, Round 3.
Leland Roling: Campbell is known as "The Beast" by his teammates because of the insane explosive Olympic powerlifting he trains as part of his growing MMA skillset. I'm banking on the explosiveness to put a world of hurt on Pettis. Mike Campbell via TKO, Round 1.
Scott Jorgensen (6-2) vs. Antonio Banuelos (15-5)
Luke Thomas: Jorgensen will outwrestle Banuelos as the John Hackleman product fights the fight on autopilot. Jorgensen by decision.
Eugene Schelfaut: Banuelos cannot look to strike if he is fighting off of his back. Jorgensen will ride it out from there. Jorgensen by Decision.
Leland Roling: Banuelos will bang while Jorgensen will be more inclined to hit the floor. Jorgensen should be a little lengthier in this matchup and keep Banuelos at bay. Scott Jorgensen via decision.
Noah Thomas (13-4) vs. Frank Gomez (6-1)
Luke Thomas: The most under reported news in MMA is the improvement of Noah Thomas. He's legit at bantamweight. Gomez won't be able to avoid the submission. Thomas by submission, round 1.
Eugene Schelfaut: Frank Gomez' last fight was a loss to fellow WEC 41 participant Scott Jorgensen by guillotine choke. Thomas will not be able to do the same. Gomez by decision.
Leland Roling: Noah Thomas, infamous for the involvement in the "most technical street fight" against Marlon Sims on TUF, is coming into this matchup as a slight underdog. I think his experience with slightly better competition than Gomez could be the deciding factor. Noah Thomas via guillotine choke!
Rolando Perez (4-2-1) vs. Seth Dikun (6-3)
Luke Thomas: I'll give Dikun the edge in experience, but this is really difficult to forecast. Dikun by decision.
Eugene Schelfaut: Ronaldo Perez will erase the memory of losing to Jose Aldo at WEC 38 by joining him in victory on the 7th. Perez by TKO, round 2.
Leland Roling: I've only seen these guys in competition against Aldo and Valencia, and I wasn't all that impressed with either. I think Dikun has an edge in battling with better competition, and he should have a slight edge on the ground. Seth Dikun via submission, Round 1.