The first bout of the WEC's first foray into the pay-per-view market at WEC 48 will feature a bantamweight rematch between potential title contender Scott Jorgensen (9-3, 5-2 WEC) and long-time WEC veteran Antonio Banuelos (17-5, 5-3 WEC). Their first battle at WEC 41 ended in a split decision that was shrouded in controversy as Jorgensen seemed to have gotten the better of Banuelos in the second and third rounds. The judges didn't see it that way, and Banuelos was awarded the victory.
Since that bout, Jorgensen has been on a hot streak as he defeated Noah Thomas at WEC 43, Chad George at WEC 47, and his most notable win came against Takeya Mizugaki at WEC 45, a victory that also garnered "Fight of the Night" honors. The consecutive victories combined with a win over a former contender has put Jorgensen's name in the mix as the next possible contender for the belt at 135 pounds.
Banuelos stands in the way of that possibility. Unfortunately, Banuelos hasn't competed at the same pace as Jorgensen in the past year. After his victory over Jorgensen, he defeated Shooto veteran Kenji Osawa via unanimous decision at WEC 44 back in November, and this will be his first fight of 2010. Originally slated to battle Damacio Page, Page pulled out due to injury, thus giving Jorgensen the opportunity to avenge his previous loss.
The major focal point in this rematch will be the overall improvement of Scott Jorgensen. Their first fight featured a mix of different techniques, but Banuelos' striking and clinch work was one of the main reasons why he was so competitive in the fight. Putting together combinations on the feet that stunned Jorgensen to an extent were followed by solid takedowns. While Banuelos was unable to do a whole lot with the takedowns, he was able to put Jorgensen on his back. Jorgensen's ability to put Banuelos into danger with choke attempts limited the ground action however.
I'm expecting a similar fight in terms of striking and wrestling, but I'm hesitant to believe we'll see an exact replica of their first bout. Jorgensen's wrestling seems to have improved substantially, and the bout with Mizugaki is a great example of that. Unfortunately, Mizugaki isn't a model of perfect takedown defense, but he is a great scrambler. Banuelos will probably provide a stiffer defense in that department.
In terms of striking, Banuelos' footwork was the key to his success previously, and he'll more than likely use the same type of gameplan in this fight. Jorgensen stalked for most of the fight, and he was countered by mean uppercut combinations. He'll need to avoid those shots if he wants to take this one.
The clinch game is interesting to break down because Jorgensen landed some huge knees in the final round of the previous fight. Banuelos initiated the clinch a few times as well, but rather than land heavy blows -- he was able to put Jorgensen on his back. Jorgensen's defense usually came in the form of a guillotine attempt or a transition to a different choke during the scramble on the floor. He'll want to limit those attacks and try to work the clinch attacks like he did in the final round at WEC 41.
Most fans will probably fall in line with Jorgensen taking this rematch. He's improved his wrestling, strength, takedown defense, and striking, but Banuelos offers some solid footwork, punching, and wrestling of his own. Victory really comes down to who's improved the most, but I imagine this will be a pretty close fight as well. The fact that both men know what to expect after the three-round war at WEC 41 should make this rather interesting.
I'll lean toward Jorgensen in this fight. It's probably the consensus pick, and I think he'll be much more adept to the takedown attempts and striking that Banuelos will offer in this fight. If Banuelos can win however, it'll put a major damper on Jorgensen's chances at contendership and throw Banuelos into some more important fights to gain his own shot at contention. Regardless of who your pick is, this should be a solid showdown to open up the WEC's first PPV card.