While not carrying the star power of the Strikeforce event, that doesn’t mean there’s less talented fighters on display here, and the WEC’s trump card is that they very rarely fail to deliver a quality night of fights.
Lets take a closer look at what the main card has to offer this time round.
Donald Cerrone vs. Ed Ratcliff
After losing out on the interim WEC lightweight title in one of the fights of the year against Ben Henderson in October, Donald Cerrone (10-2 1nc) returns to the cage to face the slick Karate striking of Ed Ratcliff (7-1).
Ratcliff will be looking to make the most of the main event exposure as he seeks to improve upon his 3-1 record in the promotion by defeating his toughest opponent to date.
The outcome of this fight may depend on how long Cerrone is going to indulge in striking with Ratcliff who certainly poses a threat with his veritable swiss army knife of kicks which often appear to come out of nowhere.
Cerrone is as tough as they come though and his constant pressure will likely make life difficult for Ratcliff, who needs room to operate effectively, and will have to be wary of takedown attempts.
In the end whether he is successful or unsuccessful, Cerrone holds the ace up his sleeve in that he is far superior on the ground, and that will be the decisive factor in this encounter.
After having only narrowly failed in his quest to break down the seemingly superhuman submission defense of Ben Henderson in his last fight, submitting Ratcliff should be like childs play in comparison. I’m sure he’ll want to engage him in the stand-up first though, but eventually I believe he’ll take this to the ground to win inside the distance.
I’m going for Donald Cerrone by 2nd round submission.
Chris Horodecki vs. Anthony Njokuani
Having made a name for himself in the IFL, Chris Horodecki has largely disappeared off the radar in the past 18 months due to injuries and cancellations blocking his return to fighting. Signing with the WEC gives him the perfect opportunity to re-establish himself.
Meanwhile Anthony Njokuani has been making his presence felt in the promotion with back-to-back knockout wins in his past two fights after losing in his WEC debut against current interim champ Ben Henderson.
This has all the makings of a stand-up war, with both fighters far more comfortable on their feet than on the floor. A notable difference between the two men is their size, with Njokuani being uncommonly tall for the lightweight division at 6ft 1′, while Horodecki is just 5ft 8′.
With a reach advantage to go with it Njokuani is likely to enjoy the most success here, and being the more deadly striker of the two, that could spell trouble for Horodecki in his WEC debut.
If Horodecki can claim victory here then he may regain some of the buzz that surrounded him during his early winning streak, but I think he may find himself outclassed on this occasion.
I’m going for Anthony Njokuani by 2nd round KO.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Rani Yahya
After suffering the first loss of his 11 fight professional career against Dominick Cruz in his last fight, Joseph Benavidez faces another tough opponent in his bid to get back to winning ways.
Currently on a three fight win streak in the WEC which has seen him win Submission Of The Night on each occasion, Rani Yahya (15-4) will go into this fight full of confidence.
The key to this bout will be whether Yahya can take his opponent to the mat. If he does then he may well be on course to collect his 4th Sub Of The Night award. The problem is that if he fails to get to the mat, he has little else to offer in this bout.
Benavidez on the other hand is going to be comfortable in the knowledge that he holds the advtange if the fight stays standing, and he has the wrestling and scrambling skills to ensure that it does.
Benavidez is going to have to be on his toes for this one, but I think he has the skill set to keep Yahya at bay and come on strong in the later rounds as his opponent becomes tired and frustrated.
I’m picking Joseph Benavidez to win by decision.
Scott Jorgensen vs. Takeya Mizugaki
In his fourth fight of 2009, Scott Jorgensen (7-3) will look to claim his third victory, building on his 1st round TKO victory over former TUF season 5 contestant Noah Thomas back in October.
That will be easier said than done against Takeya Mizugaki (12-3-2) who pushed former bantemweight champ Miguel Torres all the way in their compelling title fight earlier this year.
Mizugaki is the more technical striker here, and if he can keep it on the feet, he will find the holes to punish Jorgensen. He has admitted however that he struggles against strong wrestlers and Jorgensen will be looking to exploit that weakness at every opportunity.
I really think this one can go either way. On the feet I’m fairly convinced Mizugaki wins, but I wonder whether his takedown defense can stand up against an explosive fighter like Jorgensen.
I think it’ll be close, but I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and pick Tayeka Mizugaki to win by decision.