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BloodyElbow.com WEC 32 Staff Predictions

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BloodyElbow.com Staff Picks For WEC 32: Condit vs. Prater

Carlos Condit (21 - 4) vs. Carlo Prater (21 - 5 - 1)

Luke Thomas: The odds on this fight are grossly out of whack, suggesting Condit is going to steam roll Prater. I'm sorry, folks, but anyone as experienced, technical and well-rounded as Prater is virtually impossible to steam roll even for someone as gifted as Georges St. Pierre. And as I've been mentioning this week, the question in this fight is Condit improved enough since their first meeting to avenge his loss? I think he is. While I do give the edge in submission acumen and positional control to Prater (his sweeps are vicious), I give the edge on the feet to Condit. I also give Condit credit enough to find a way out of a bad position should Prater begin to pass guard or take Condit's back. Condit's performance against Jake Shields, a better guard passer than Prater any day of the week, showed me Condit has tremendous skill and is a constant work in progress. It's hard to find fighters develop their skill set as quickly as Condit. He is still learning, yes, but it's at a rapid pace and the results are showing. I do think his last two opponents could've posed a stiffer challenge and I expect this to be the hardest fight yet for Condit in the WEC, but I also expect redemption. Condit, TKO, round 3.

Kid Nate: Prater is very tough but his win over Condit was a long time ago and their careers have gone in opposite directions since. Gotta go with Condit here.

Michael Rome: Prater has been less effective of late at finishing guys off, and I think that Condit will finish him standing as this goes into later rounds. This has the potential to be very good.I think Condit is going to win here.

Nick Thomas: This fight is going to be a lot closer than odds are saying Condit -400, Prater +320. As long as Condit has improved his ground game since their first fight which I’m sure he has...it’s Condit by TKO.

Rob McCullough (15 - 3) vs. Jamie Varner (13 - 2, 2 NC)

Luke Thomas: This fight comes down to this: will McCullough be able to avoid Varner's submissions or will Varner be overwhelmed by McCullough's kickboxing and takedown defense? I honestly am just not sure. McCullough has ferocious power and served notice to lightweights everywhere that trading with him is not a bright idea in his win over Rich Crunkilton. Varner, on the other hand, is an All-American wrestler, a NCAA boxing champion and winner of the No-Gi Mundials in the purple belt division. Folks, that's well-rounded personified. The knock on Varner, though, is that he tends to think a little higher of himself than he should and can over commit in his pursuit of the fight. McCullough, on the other hand, has no problems with fast-paced, hard-hitting action, but is slightly more reserved as he is weary of giving up position on the feet to a scramble on the floor. I also think it's worth pointing out that of any kickboxer in the lightweight division, I believe McCullough puts together the best combinations of any of them. So who do I pick here? While the temptation to pick Varner is high, my gut tells me he's sleeping on McCullough as most others are. I have seen footage of McCollough's wrestling and while I expect Varner to get the takedown, I don't expect it to come easily throughout the fight. And in those pockets where the fight returns to the feet, I think Razor will make Varner pay - even if Varner's chin is sturdy. McCullough, TKO, round 4.

Kid Nate: This fight revolves around one question -- can Varner get Razor Rob to the ground and finish the fight? I'm going to say yes. Varner.

Michael Rome: His ground game is suspect, but he survived with Crunkilton, and I think he's going to be able to stay standing and finish this. I'm picking McCullough.

Nick Thomas: Striker vs. Wrestler again for McCullough but I think Varner can do what Crunkilton couldn't. The only thing that scares me is Varner says he wants to stand and bang. I’m just hoping he doesn’t do that long enough to get TKO’ed. Upset #1. Varner by submission.

Chase Beebe (11 - 1) vs. Miguel Torres (19 - 1)

Luke Thomas: Torres has positioned this fight as "Wrestling vs. BJJ" in honor of his late teacher, Carlson Gracie, Sr. And that's not a bad way to look at it. Beebe, a four-time state wrestling champion in high school is fighting an excellent guard player with a lanky body type in Torres. Yes, Torres has very good Muay Thai skills as well, but I suspect this fight is likely to be won or lost on the ground. The temptation to pick Torres here is extremely high. He's only lost once and later avenged that lose to spectacular fashion. He's been flying under the radar since then, but has built a formidable skillset during that time. Beebe, on the other hand, somehow came out of nowhere and shocked the bantanweight world with impressive wins over Eddie Wineland and Rani Yahya. He seems to be that wrestler that grinds his opponents down by finding a way to neutralize their main talents and gameplans, leaving them reeling for an outlet. And while I believe Torres is exceptionally dangerous from his back, I took notice of Beebe during his fight with Yahya. I do not believe Beebe is that susceptible to Torres' excellent triangle choke or any of his submissions for that matter. Beebe brings the old wrestling adage to life: "If you're not attacking, you're defending." Beebe only defends long enough to frustrate his opponents until it's time to deliver punishment. The Gilbert Grappling product is exceptionally difficult to put away and I think he'll deny Torres his date with destiny. Beebe, split decision.

Kid Nate: Torres is too multi-faceted for Beebe, he wins standing or on the ground. Beebe is very good, I just think Torres is a step ahead.

Michael Rome: He has shown pretty great submission survival ability in the past, and I think Torres's record isn't as strong as the numbers suggest. I'm taking Beebe here.

Nick Thomas: Beebe has already proved himself against a solid BJJ guy in Yahya. So you would think this is an easy pick, Beebe by decision.

Leonard Garcia (10 - 3) vs. Hiroyuki Takaya (9 - 4 - 1)

Luke Thomas: Here's how this works: yes, Garcia is coming down from 155lbs to a more natural weight class. Yes, Garcia can take a beating. Yes, Garcia trains with a great team. Yes, I understand all of this, but really, I don't care. Takaya is being slept on hardcore. The "Streetfight Bancho" posses devastating power in both hands and feet and is an absolute terror in this weightclass. It's also worth noting that just like Garcia, Takaya can take a tremendous punch of his own. And while Takaya had very mixed results at 155lbs, he proved in his TKO win over Antonio Carvalho that featherweight was where he belonged. Oh, and unlike other Japanese transports, Takaya has cage experience by competing and TKO'ing opponents in Cage Force. Takaya, sooner or later, is going to knock Garcia's block off. Takaya, by KO, round 3.

Kid Nate: Tough fight to call, will Takaya be able to overcome the Japanese jinx? Will Garcia be able to cut weight right in his first attempt? I'm going to flip a coin and go with Takaya cause I'm a mark for Japanese MMA!

Michael Rome: This one is really a tossup. Takaya's losses are to great fighters, and his recent win over Carvalho was a good one. Still, I think Garcia's cage experience will win this for him in the end.

Nick Thomas: Garcia survived the storm that is Roger Huerta. Takaya shouldn't be any worse. Upset #2. Garcia by decision.

UNDERCARD

Manny Tapia (9 - 0 - 1) vs. Antonio Banuelos (14 - 4)

Luke Thomas: I pity Banuelos here. An excellent wrestler who is quick in the scrambles and trains with Chuck Liddell's/John Hackleman's PIT Fighting Team, Banuelos has a lot to offer for any opponent at bantanweight. Well, almost any opponent. Banuelos has shown a reckless streak and that has lead to two recent KO's at the hands of Charlie Valencia and Eddie Wineland. Tapia, the would-be heir to the bantanweight crown, has suffered injury and so must find a new way to get his title shot. Facing Banuelos is no easy task, but this fight is tailor made for Tapia to showcase his tremendous size for this weightclass in addition to his well-rounded game. I expect a bruising, folks. Tapia, by TKO, round 2.

Josh Grispi (6 - 1) vs. Mark Hominick (15 - 7)

Luke Thomas: Now this one is interesting. For those who don't know, Grispi is all the talk among MMA hardcores. A Southshore Sportfighting product, Grispi is heralded by those who train and know him as the next big thing in the featherweight division. At only 19 years of age, Grispi possesses KO power in his hands and feet as well as excellent wrestling, BJJ and explosive athleticism. More importantly, his vicious head kick knockout of Spencer Paige served notice that Grispi was no joke. While the odds makers have Grispi at +200 or more, I think this fight is going to be a lot closer than folks imagine. However, I still have to go with Hominick here. Just as I sided with experience in the Mir vs. Lesnar fight, I have to believe that even if Grispi brings the fight to Hominick, "The Machine"'s superior stand-up and experience in the big show will allow him to weather Grispi's onslaught. Grispi could catch Hominick in a submission, but if Hominick takes the fight to Grispi while ensuring the fight stays on the feet, he can get the job done. Hominick, by unanimous decision.

Del Hawkins (22 - 12) vs. Coty Wheeler (6 - 1)

Luke Thomas: Coty "Ox" Wheeler is a hometown favorite that trains with the other hometown hero, Carlos Condit, at Fit NHB. Wheeler possess decent wrestling and excellent submissions, something that should serve him well against the journeyman Del Hawkins. I really don't expect this to go beyond the first round. Wheeler, by submission, round 1.

Charlie Valencia (9 - 3) vs. Yoshiro Maeda (22 - 4 - 2)

Luke Thomas: Maeda is an excellent addition to the WEC featherweight roster, but WEC matchmaker Scott Adams has done him no favors with his first fight. For starters, Maedea typically fought at 141lbs in Japan, thereby making him comparatively small for bantanweight given how many superb wrestlers fill the WEC roster in this weightclass. And there's another problem: Maedea has KO power in his hands and feet, but will have no answer to Valencia's wrestling acumen. Compound that problem with Valencia's decent stand-up and KO power of his own and this is simply not a good match-up for Maedea. Valencia, by TKO, round 2.

Micah Miller (9 - 1, 1 NC) vs. Chance Farrar (5 - 1, 1 NC)

Luke Thomas: Farrar may not have looked that impressive past the third minute of his fight with Urijah Faber, but who does? An excellent wrestler with supreme conditioning, Farrar also posses respectable power in both hands. The problem is that won't do much with Miller. An excellent guard player with a lanky body type, Miller is perfectly willing to concede the takedown to work from his back. More importantly, Cub Swanson and Jesse Moreng nailed Miller with everything they had and still couldn't do much to slow down the American Top Team prospect. I expect Miller to eventually find a way to withstand early trouble to pull out a triangle choke. Miller, by submission, round 3.

Scott Jorgensen (4 - 1) vs. Damacio Page (9 - 3)

Luke Thomas: Page, a Greg Jackson product, is coming in on short notice, but not totally. He's been training for a fight later this month and swears he's prepared for this bout as he would be any other. But really, that's neither here nor there. Jorgenson has serviceable skills, but got his start armbaring questionable opposition in Alaska. His boxing and kickboxing only exist to help set up takedowns or guard pulling. Page is too prepared and too well-rounded to fall prey to anything in Jorgensen's arsenal. Page, TKO, round 2.