Jamie Varner vs. Benson Henderson
After winning the WEC’s interim lightweight belt in one of the fights of the year against Donald Cerrone in October, Ben Henderson now fights for the real thing in a title unification bout.
In many ways we’re still learning just what Henderson is capable of. His ability to survive and escape Cerrone’s numerous submission attempts in his last fight was impressive, and showed another side to his developing game.
One thing I still question is Henderson’s chin though, and unlike Cerrone, Jamie Varner has the wrestling ability to do ensure that a significant portion of this five round encounter stays off the mat.
While he may at times get taken down, Varner has the skills to scramble back to his feet and press home his striking advantage.
After his last performance I’m in no way ruling out the possibility of Ben Henderson coming away with the belt, but despite a year out I believe Jamie Varner’s striking will be the telling factor here, and he’ll finally overcome the gutsy challenger by TKO in the third.
Urijah Faber vs. Raphael Assuncao
After two victories over Jens Pulver and two losses to Mike Brown in his last four fights, Urijah Faber finally gets a new challenge in the shape of Raphael Assuncao on Sunday night. The 14-1 Assuncao, unbeaten in his last six bouts, provides stiff opposition for the WEC’s biggest star as Faber looks to return to winning ways and potentially set-up a blockbuster encounter with current featherweight champ Jose Aldo.
Assuncao is a dangerous submission fighter, and if this fight goes to the mat he will be looking to take one of Faber’s arms home with him. Faber should be savvy enough to keep himself from danger if it comes to it, and his wrestling should help him to have a say in where this fight takes place.
On the feet Faber has shown that he’s a match for anyone, even gamely hanging in against Mike Brown in their rematch despite breaking one hand and fracturing the other, and he should be able to show his superiority over Assuncao here.
It’s a risky fight for the ‘California Kid,‘ but I expect him to display the experience, speed and the stand-up skills that will get back to winning ways via a decision victory.
Mike Thomas Brown vs. Anthony Morrison
After a surprisingly one sided defeat against Jose Aldo, the normally dominant Mike Brown sets off on the road back to the featherweight title against newcomer Anthony Morrison.
This may look like the WEC handing Brown an easy fight to get the fighter back on the right track – and indeed it probably is – but Morrison, who enters the promotion with a 15-7 won’t be a pushover. Having said that Brown has proven to be too much to handle for all but the very best the featherweight division has to offer, and it would be a major upset if he emerges from this bout with anything other than a convincing victory.
Mike Brown has too much in his locker to slip on the potential banana skin of a debuting opponent. I expect him to take the victory by TKO in round 1.
Dave Jansen vs. Kamal Shalorus
After a spell in the M1-Challenge Dave Jansen brought his unbeaten record to the WEC and claimed a decision victory over Richard Crunkilton in October. Now standing at 14-0, Jansen takes on Iranian fighter Kamal Shalorus who also earned a victory in his WEC debut in November over Will Kerr.
Both men come from a wrestling background with Shalorus particularly notable for at one time being a member of the British Olympic team. Despite that Shalorus also likes to throw leather, and in his brief career four of his five wins have come by TKO due to punches.
When two wrestlers meet it generally ends up gravitating towards a striking match-up, which could be bad news for Jansen. I suspect he’ll aim to take down Shalorus and submit him instead. That’ll be easier said than done though, and I like ‘The Prince Of Persia’ to neutralize Jansen’s wrestling and overwhelm him on the feet and gain a second round TKO.
Mackens Semerzier vs. Deividas Taurosevicius
Despite fighting professionally for a little over a year, there’s some buzz surrounding 5-0 Mackens Semerzier going into this fight. The reason for this is largely down to the unexpected first round triangle choke victory he claimed over Wagnney Fabiano in his WEC debut back in October.
His opponent this time round is Deividas Taurosevicius who is the more experienced fighter with a record of 11-3, and also made a winning start to his WEC career at the same event as Semerzier, earning a split decision victory over Javier Vasquez.
Both fighters are most comfortable on the mat where they can utilize their Brazilian Jiu Jitsu submission skills. Tarurosevicius is a black belt, but so was Fabiano, and that didn’t stop Semerzier. It’s a gamble to opt for a fighter with so few fights under his belt, but I’m throwing caution to the wind – Mackens Semerzier to win by submission in the 2nd round.
- (Predicted winner in bold)
Akitoshi Tamura vs. Charlie Valencia
Wagnney Fabiano vs. Clint Godfrey
Mark Hominick vs. Bryan Caraway
Eddie Wineland vs. George Roop
Will Campuzano vs. Coty Wheeler