Ringside hosts, Todd Harris and Frank Mir, are back at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, for WEC Live this Wednesday night. The card is highlighted by a light-heavyweight title fight between Doug Marshall and Brian Stann and includes several other compelling match-ups.
Coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET on Versus. We've still got to wait more than 24 hours until the action begins; therefore, let's go through the complete card and provide some predictions of the winners.
Here we go:
"All-American" Brian Stann vs. Doug "Rhino" Marshall
The challenger for the WEC light heavyweight title, Brian Stann, comes into the fight with a perfect record (5-0) with five first-round knockouts. Marshall has seven career wins, all of which also came in the first round. Smart money says this one ends early. Marshall's recent opponents (a 37-year-old steroid-using Cuban guy and a 6'6" beanpole who is unfamiliar with the concept of "reach advantage") have not exactly been top shelf competition. Stann has been known to take a few solid shots before finishing his opponents, and that may be a tactic to avoid with the powerful Marshall. I have to go with the Marine to win with a barrage of punches about four minutes in.
Prediction: Stann by TKO, round 1.
Chael Sonnen vs. Bryan Baker
Sonnen was set for a much-deserved middleweight title fight rematch with Paulo Filho before the Brazilian's personal issues forced him to withdraw. Sonnen will get a match, but it's a non-title fight against the undefeated Bryan Baker. A loss could potentially ruin Sonnen's shot at Filho down the road, but I think he wins the fight. Six of Sonnen's nine losses have been submissions to fighters like Jeremy Horn, Babalu Sobral and Forrest Griffin. Baker is not skilled enough on the ground to take this one.
Prediction: Sonnen by TKO, round 2.
Ed "9mm" Ratcliff vs. Marcus "Wrecking Ball" Hicks
Both fighters come into this fight with perfect records, 6-0 for Ratcliff and 7-0 for Hicks. Ratcliff won his first fight via submission, but since then he's racked up five consecutive knockout wins. Hicks, on the other hand, has five submission wins and two technical knockouts. Look for Hicks to use his strength advantage to bring Ratcliff to the mat and either lock up an arm or sink in a choke.
Prediction: Hicks by rear naked choke, round 2.
Steve Cantwell vs. Tim "Wrecking Machine" McKenzie
With a solid 11-4 record, including a knockout victory over current light-heavyweight champion Doug Marshall last March, McKenzie would probably be looking at a title shot with a win over Cantwell. Cantwell will try to improve on his 4-1 record, but McKenzie's experience should be enough to help him get a convincing win.
Prediction: McKenzie by TKO, round 1.
Hiromitsu Miura vs. Blas Avena
Hiromitsu Miura looks for his fourth win in his last five fights. With four technical knockout wins and a tapout win because of strikes to his credit, Miura will look to bang with Avena. Avena has two submission wins by choke in his last two fights. Look for Miura, who has faced significantly harder competition in several organizations, including K-1 and Pancrase to prevail.
Prediction: Miura by TKO, round 2.
John "The Natural" Alessio vs. Brock Larson
Alessio fought five times in 2007 with his only loss coming to WEC Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit. Larson also has just one loss in the last two years, also to Condit. The winner should get the first chance to avenge his loss. Larson is a powerful wrestler with an excellent submission game. I like him to beat up Alessio on the ground before winning with a choke.
Prediction: Larson by rear naked choke, round 2.
Sergio Gomez vs. Rich "Cleat" Crunkilton
Gomez has a solid 7-1 record, but the only time he stepped up in competition he got choked out. Crunkilton has 14 wins against just two losses, both of which came against world-class fighters. Look for him to get back to his winning ways with a TKO of Gomez.
Prediction: Crunkilton by TKO, round 1.
Ryan Stonitsch vs. Alex "The Russian Crusher" Serdyukov
Ryan Stonitsch takes a perfect 8-0 record with six stoppage wins into his WEC debut. Serdyukov is 8-4 overall and 3-2 in the WEC octagon with both losses at the hands of John Alessio. It might be a bit of an upset, but I think Stonitsch gets a ground and pound win here.
Prediction: Stonitsch by TKO, round 2.
Chris Manuel vs. Kenji Osawa
Chris Manuel is a product of American Top Team making his WEC debut. He won his last two fights by TKO, but his previous four wins were by various submissions. There is nothing particularly impressive about Osawa. He has 13 wins, seven by decision. Manuel takes this fight any way he wants.
Prediction: Manuel by TKO, round 1.
Logan "The Pink Pounder" Clark vs. Scott Haper
Clark, who has the most unfortunate nickname I've ever seen, is 1-1 in WEC and 7-1 overall, including a UFC win. Harper is 8-3 overall and making a step up in competition in WEC debut. Harper won his first two fights by knock-out, but five of his six wins since then have been submissions. All of Pink Pounder's wins are via KO or decision. Look for Clark to try to work some ground and pound while Harper goes for submissions.
Prediction: Clark via unanimous decision
That's a wrap. It's going to be great show tomorrow night -- don't miss it. In the meantime share your thoughts and predictions in the comments sections below.