In what looks to be a saturated weekend of action coming from Zuffa, UFC 101 and WEC 42 will go back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday respectively with UFC 101 being headlined by a Lightweight title bout between B.J. Penn and Kenny Florian, and WEC 42 being headlined by a Bantamweight title bout between Miguel Torres and Brian Bowles. Both cards have some excellent fights, but WEC 42's preliminary bouts definitely have some much more intriguing match-ups than that of UFC 101.
Headlining the undercard will more than likely be a Featherweight tilt between USA Today/SBN Consensus Rankings #6 ranked Leonard Garcia (12-4) versus unranked Jameel Massouh (21-5). The WEC also picked up another highly-anticipated Featherweight bout from the Affliction demise in L.C. Davis (13-2) vs. Javier Vazquez (13-2). Both battles should have some weight in the Featherweight rankings within the WEC as Garcia is looking to rebound from a defeat at the hands of current champion Mike Brown, and both L.C. Davis and Javier Vazquez are looking to make an immediate impact to gain the bigger match-ups.
Other bouts include Lightweight showdown between Marcus Hicks (8-2) vs. Team Takedown fighter Shane Roller (5-2), John Hosman (13-4-1) in Bantamweight action against BJJ black belt Rani Yahya (13-4), Featherweight bouts featuring Fredson Paixao (8-3) vs. Cole Province (5-1) and Diego Nunes (12-0) vs. Rafael Dias (12-5-1), and another Lightweight showdown between karate practicioner Ed Ratcliff (6-1) and BJJ specialist Phil Cardella (8-3). Let's take a more in-depth look at some of these match-ups.
Garcia vs. Massouh is an interesting match-up because Garcia will be looking for the massive knockout while Massouh is more than likely looking for a floor battle in which he can come up with a submission victory. The big difference here is that Garcia's record is lined with top-notch competition from the UFC's lightweight division and the WEC while Massouh just doesn't have that type of competiton under his belt. He has the jiu-jitsu to be dangerous, but I think Garcia's quickness and striking is going to overwhelm Massouh.
L.C. Davis vs. Javier Vazquez is definitely a bout to look forward to for those hardcore fans out there following both fighters. Davis was surprisingly knocked out of the Sengoku Featherweight Grand Prix by Michihiro Omigawa's excellent clinch work and ground control, but he still has a very well-rounded skill set to give anyone a run for their money in the division.
Javier Vazquez brings a top-notch jiu-jitsu skill-set to this fight, and he's looking for better fights after coming back out of retirement following his trouncing of JC Pennington at a ShoXC event back in September of 2007. He has since fought once before this match-up, a win in :19 seconds via guillotine choke.
Hicks vs. Roller should be a solid test for both wrestlers, although Hicks has a lot of experience and muscle. Roller will have to stay clear of his vicious guillotine choke while using his wrestling credentials to punish Hicks. It'll definitely be a clash of styles as both guys love to use their wrestling abilities in the cage.
Hosman's chances against Yahya don't look too good as Hosman relies on his submission skills to win, and Yahya's black belt status in MMA is revered. Look for Yahya to defeat Hosman via decision or actually submit him. The match-up between Fredson Paixao and Cole Province could end in a similar manner. Paixao's jiu-jitsu chops are excellent, and his submission abilities will likely have Province re-thinking his strategy to try to wrestle. More than likely, Province will try to strike with Paixao ala Wagnney Fabiano's bout with Paixao, but he'll have to avoid the ground game at all costs.
A very interesting Brazilian showdown between Team Nogueira-trained Diego Nunes and ATT's Rafael Dias could prove to be a fight of the night candidate. Nunes is currently undefeated with a 12-0 record littered with submissions and knockouts. He's a fairly well-rounded fighter with a black belt in Muay Thai and a purple belt in jiu-jitsu. He's dangerous in all areas of the game, and he should definitely be a fighter to keep an eye on as an up-and-coming featherweight.
Interestingly enough, Nunes will fight a former lawyer in Rafael Dias. Dias, who owns a degree in Law from Brazil, is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu along with training at the prestigious American Top Team. He'll probably be looking to use his better credentials on the floor against Nunes, but Nunes likely has the skills on the floor to negate Dias. It's definitely a solid match-up that I hope gets some televised time.
Rounding out the preview, Ed "9mm" Ratcliff will take on BJJ black belt Phil Cardella in a lightweight showdown. Ed Ratcliff is bringing a whole new breed of aggressive karate fighting into the WEC, and he's successfully used it in the cage a few times. Most notably, he knocked out Brett Cooper at a Total Combat event in '05 via a spinning head kick that was straight out of a Van Damme movie. He's definitely a dynamic striker, but he also has some solid power on the ground. His top control is able, and he has the ability to put guys away from the guard.
The only real problem is that Phil Cardella wants opponents in his guard as he's a very punishing force while on his back. I've made points in the past that Cardella's style is disadvantageous to him as judges think he's being beaten, but his opponents always look worse after the fight has ended. He used brutal elbows and punches from the bottom to punish opponents while trying to work submissions, so Ratcliff will need to keep this one standing.
The undercard definitely looks like it has a lot of great action on it, so look forward to some of these match-ups potentially making the televised main card. Seek them out online later for some great quality up-and-coming talents that should be followed by everyone interested in the smaller weight classes of the WEC.