March 6, 2010
Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio
Brian Bowles vs. Dominick Cruz
Luke Thomas: When I spoke to Cruz on MMA Nation, he seemed deeply committed to his jab, sprawl and off balance takedown approach. Against shorter opponents with subpar wrestling, that works. And admittedly, Bowles is not the superior wrestler of the two. But he is the physical brute and by far the harder puncher. Given how all of Cruz's WEC wins have gone to a decision, I have no no doubts he can go five rounds. But can he keep up a one-track gameplan against a devastating puncher like Bowles for 5 rounds? I don't think so. Bowles by TKO, round 3.
Kid Nate: Both fighters come into this bout owning significant advantages over the other. Bowles has punching power and wrestling. Cruz has reach and a more polished striking game. But I'm going to have to pick Bowles because he's got finishing tools and Cruz is going to be looking to get a decision. Five rounds is far too long to be trying to stay on your feet and beating Bowles by points, eventually Cruz will get caught. Bowles by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: It's a fairly even fight on paper but when one guy is looking to go to a decision against another guy who can finish with strikes at almost any time it's hard to pick against the finisher. Cruz could work his way to the decision if he can spend a good portion of the fight working a controlling top game, but I just don't see it. Brian Bowles by TKO, round 3.
Leland Roling: Both men are pretty evenly matched in this fight with Cruz having a controlling ground game, decent boxing and Bowles having undeniable knockout power and formidable wrestling. Bowles will actually have a slight reach advantage, but Cruz's frame should give Bowles problems on the ground. While I think Cruz is a solid bet, I'm banking on Bowles' power to be the x-factor here. Brian Bowles via TKO, Round 2.
Nick Thomas: Cruz has the speed and Bowles has the strength. In a five round fight, I have to go with strength over speed. Bowles by decision.
Miguel Torres vs. Joseph Benavidez
Luke Thomas: Part of me feels like this is a bad match-up for either guy. Benavidez can take Torres down at will and is accustomed to working against reach. Torres, on the other hand, has a wicked guard and can stick and move behind crisp, pinpoint boxing. I think this fight is closer than we realize, but I'll be conservative and give the former champ the nod. Torres by submission.
Kid Nate: Benavidez is a skilled athlete who brings some strong tools to the game: good wrestling, a powerful overhand right. Unfortunately, none of his tools will work on the formidable Torres. Benavidez is giving away a huge amount of reach, so much so that he'll have almost no chance of winning on the feet. On the ground, Torres' submission game will make Benavidez regret any take down he is foolish enough to try. Torres by submission.
Brent Brookhouse: Benavidez is very athletic and has good explosive movement. However, he is short and his striking is lacking in technique. Torres does let himself get hit too much but I think he'll be able to avoid really getting tagged in this fight and can work his length to a fairly one sided decision. Miguel Torres by decision.
Leland Roling: I've never been a huge fan of Joseph Benavidez for the simple fact that he isn't very technical in his approach. Looping, quick overhands on the end of a very short reach isn't enticing to me, but he has been effective in the past with his explosiveness. As long as Torres doesn't wade in the pocket in this fight, he should be able to use his reach to pepper Benavidez and move in and out of danger. Miguel Torres via decision.
Nick Thomas: Can't wait for this fight. Torres's reach advantage is the clincher here. Torres by TKO.
Jens Pulver vs. Javier Vazquez
Luke Thomas: As much as Pulver's attempt to comeback has been ballyhooed, I just don't know. I do believe Pulver can strike with him without too much consequence and win the takedown battle if he likes. I'm honestly not sure where his submission defense is these days. But part of me feels like while Vazquez lost to hungry workhorses like Davis and Taurosevicius, he's also on a skid. I just can't gamble on Pulver even if I'm sympathetic to what's ailed his career of late. Vazquez by submission.
Kid Nate: A few years back, Pulver would've taken this one easy. That was then, this is now. Vazquez by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: I really think Jens is going to spend a lot of time with his back against the cage or the mat. Javier Vazquez by decision.
Leland Roling: Javier Vazquez has a solid chance at taking Pulver out with his jiu-jitsu prowess, and that's probably worth some scratch on the betting line. But... I'm a man who sticks by favorites. I'm still a big fan of Pulver despite his deficient skills in his older age. I'll go with Jens. Jens Pulver via TKO, Round 2.
Nick Thomas: Poor Jens. Vazquez by submission.
Deividas Taurosevicius vs. L.C. Davis
Luke Thomas: I actually think Davis is going to burn right through him. Davis by TKO.
Kid Nate: Davis has the wrestling edge, but Taurosevicius is the more well rounded fighter. Taurosevicius by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: This fight is going to be a lot of fun. Taurosevicius is a slight favorite heading in but I think Davis can do enough work with his wrestling to work out a very tight decision. There will be some moments on the feet where Taurosevicius is able to land though, and he could put the fight away if Davis allows him to spend too much time in striking range. L.C. Davis by decision.
Leland Roling: I like L.C. Davis in this fight. Deividas should be the stronger fighter, but his reach is always a disadvantage. L.C. has been training with Shawn Tompkins in Las Vegas for this fight as well as his normal training camp. He has a solid wrestling background, and that could translate to this fight becoming a stand-up war between the two fighters. I'll go out on a limb and take L.C. Davis. L.C. Davis via split decision.
Nick Thomas: I'm a huge fan of Taurosevicius and have to give him the slight advantage here. Taurosevicius by decision.
Bart Palaszewski vs. Karen Darabedyan
Luke Thomas: Set-up match for the latest Armenian prospect in the Zuffa fold. Darabedyan by TKO.
Kid Nate: I think it's over for Bartimus and I've been very impressed by Darabedyan. Bart won't outbox him and he won't get any take downs from the clinch against the judo trained Armenian. Darabedyan by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Darabedyan is the better all around fighter. He should be able to decide if and when they go to the ground and he isn't going to be outstruck by the slugging Palaszewski. Karen Darabedyan by TKO, round 3.
Leland Roling: Palaszewski has certainly been in a slump, and I don't think it's going to get any better for him. Darabedyan's grappling credentials in Judo should allow him to keep this fight standing, and his accurate striking will likely give Bart fits on the feet. Karen Darabedyan via decision.
Nick Thomas: Darabedyan looked impressive in his last fight and I'm still not sold on Palaszewski. Darabedyan by decision.
Scott Jorgensen vs. Chad George
Luke Thomas: I'm with Nate on this. Jorgensen is on a roll, too. Jorgensen by TKO.
Kid Nate: Squash match. Jorgensen by KO.
Brent Brookhouse: This almost feels like a waste of Jorgensen. He's always exciting and has been climbing the ladder. A fight with George just feels like a lateral move. Still, he should get an impressive looking win. Scott Jorgensen by TKO, round 1.
Leland Roling: Chad George will have his hands full in this fight. Jorgensen is beginning to become a real top notch fighter in the division, and his wrestling ability coupled with his gritty stand-up game can give any fighter problems in the division. He should carve up George and put himself into the mix as a potential contender. Scott Jorgensen via TKO, Round 2.
Nick Thomas: Jorgensen by TKO.
Chad Mendes vs. Erik Koch
Luke Thomas: We'll see how the uber-hyped Mendes deals with a very game Koch. I worry about Koch's guard, but I tend to think the Team Alpha Male member is properly prepped for the challenge. We shall see. Mendes by decision.
Kid Nate: These guys are both highly touted coming into this fight. The winner will be on the fast track to contention. I think Mendes has the the better wrestling and Koch doesn't have the guard game to overcome that. Mendes by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: The world is going to be pleasantly surprised by this fight. Koch is no slouch by any stretch of the imagination but I think he gets steamrolled here by a guy who will be a player in the division for years to come. Chad Mendes by TKO, round 1.
Leland Roling: This is easily the most interesting fight on the undercard as Mendes' vaunted wrestling skills will be put to the test against a very formidable Erik Koch. The outcome is really a question as to whether you can buy into the Mendes hype or not. Koch is no slouch by any means, upsetting Jameel Massouh in his debut with the WEC. Koch will be my bet here, but the footage of Mendes has me intrigued. He has potential for explosive striking and powerful takedowns, but has he put it together since his last fight? We'll find out. Chad Mendes via TKO.
Danny Castillo vs. Anthony Pettis
Luke Thomas: Without the wrestling, I just don't think Pettis has the overall game to work what works for him. Castillo by decision.
Kid Nate: Castillo has the wrestling, Pettis the striking and jiu jitsu. I like Pettis here. Pettis by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: Castillo should be able to take down/grind out here. Danny Castillo by decision.
Leland Roling: The heavy-handed Anthony Pettis' only shot is to "boom headshot" Castillo into unconsciousness. Castillo should have better wrestling and more experience. Look for Castillo to avoid Pettis' power and make this a wrestling match on the ground that he can win. Danny Castillo via decision.
Leonard Garcia vs. George Roop
Luke Thomas: Roop's a tough guy, but that's not enough. Garcia by KO.
Kid Nate: Garcia by KO.
Brent Brookhouse: This is a "get me a win" fight for Garcia, and it should do the trick just fine. Leonard Garcia by KO, round 1.
Leland Roling: George Roop isn't skilled enough to be taking on the level of competition he's been thrown up against. He doesn't have a solid stand-up game, and his BJJ ground game isn't formidable enough to threaten even good fighters who can't break into the upper echelon themselves. He'll succumb to Garcia's wild power in this fight. Leonard Garcia via TKO, Round 1.
Courtney Buck vs. Fredson Paixao
Luke Thomas: Paixao really shouldn't have much trouble here. Paixao by submission.
Kid Nate: Paixao by submission.
Brent Brookhouse: Fredson Paixao by submission, round 2.
Leland Roling: Courtney Buck is a bit of a firecracker when it comes to the stand-up game, but I fully expect Fredson Paixao's Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills and his strength to control Buck on the ground and snap off a submission. Fredson Paixao via submission.
Bendy Casimir vs. Ricardo Lamas
Luke Thomas: Lamas isn't quite what we thought he was after beating Palaszewski and then losing to Castillo, but he's got my vote of confidence in this particular fight. Lamas by decision.
Kid Nate: Lamas by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Ricardo Lamas by decision.
Leland Roling: Casimir is in Las Vegas training for this fight, so we should see some improvements in his overall game. But... I need to see him in action against a solid wrestler like Ricardo Lamas to truly decide for myself if Casimir has what it takes to be one of the better fighters in the WEC. I'm not a huge fan of Eastern European-bred fighters as they seem to have a lower success rate. And since picking is a percentage game, I'll go with Ricardo Lamas here. Ricardo Lamas via decision.