World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) is all set for "Brown vs. Aldo" this Wednesday night (Nov. 18) from "The Pearl" at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, beginning at 9 p.m. ET on the Versus network.
WEC 44 will feature featherweight champion Mike Thomas Brown defending his title for the third time against his newest and perhaps most dangerous opponent to date in feared Brazilian striker Jose "Junior" Aldo.
Former UFC lightweight fighters turned WEC 145-pound standouts Manny "The Pitbull" Gamburyan and Leonard "Bad Boy" Garcia are also set to mix it up in the night's co-main event.
And of course there are plenty of other WEC stars who will be in action on the card as well including L.C. Davis, Diego "The Gun" Nunes, John Franchi, Cub Swanson, James Krause, Ricardo Lamas and Frank Gomez, among others.
To help get you better prepared for the festivities, I've laid out some quick analysis and predictions for the four main card bouts set to hit the Versus airwaves on Saturday night.
Check it out:
WEC Featherweight Champion Mike Thomas Brown (22-4) vs. Jose
"Junior" Aldo (15-1)
This is one of those fights that you look at and you know right away what each fighter wants to do to try and win the fight.
For the champion, he's going to want to avoid Aldo's ridiculous stand up game and stick to his bread and butter attack, which is to use his wrestling to set up his ground and pound. For the challenger, he's going to want to stay off his back at all costs and keep the fight standing, which is where he's most dangerous.
The real question is which one of these guys is actually going to be successful with their strategy and my money is on the champion, for two reasons.
Number one, he's insanely strong for a 145-pound man. I'll even go as far as to say that there's probably less than a handful of featherweight mixed martial artists in the world that can lock up with this guy and not feel overmatched physically -- and Aldo isn't one of them.
Sure, if Aldo can keep his distance and avoid the clinch with Brown, then his speed, accuracy and powerful striking ability will probably give him the advantage in this fight. But that's not going to happen. Mike Brown is going to find a way to get in close with Aldo and when he does, no argument can be made that Aldo won't be at a disadvantage physically.
The second reason I'm picking the champ is because there really isn't anything that Aldo can throw at him that he hasn't seen in training at American Top Team or in one of his fights in the WEC. That's a credit to Brown's training and in-fight experience, not a knock on Jose Aldo. Aldo is very quick and he hits extremely hard and he certainly has a style of his own. But is he quicker than Urijah Faber? Does he hit harder than Leonard Garcia?
Those are obviously debatable, and Aldo is clearly a world class striker who is arguably more dangerous on his feet than Faber and Garcia. The point I'm making is that Brown has dealt with talented strikers before, while Aldo has never had to deal with someone like Brown. Once the champ takes away Aldo's advantage by closing the distance, I don't see how Aldo has any chance to win.
At best I give the Brazilian a striker's chance to score a quick knockout in the first minute of the fight. If that doesn't happen -- and I don't think it will, then expect Brown to pummel this guy with ground and pound en route to either a second or third round technical knockout victory.
This looks like a fun fight on paper, but I've got the champion winning rather easily.
Final prediction: Mike Thomas Brown via second round technical knockout.
Manny "Pitbull" Gamburyan (9-4) vs. Leonard "Bad Boy" Garcia (13-4)
This is another fight with contrasting styles. Gamburyan likely won't want any part of Leonard Garcia in the stand up, and Garcia is going to want to avoid "The Pitbull's" ground and pound.
Gamburyan's wrestling has proven to be a difficult thing to deal with by most fighters though. When I mentioned above that there were only a handful of guys in the world at 145-pounds who could potentially match strength with Mike Brown, I had this guy in mind. Unless Garcia can land a power shot within the first 30 seconds or so, he's likely going to be put on his back early and often.
Garcia does have some solid jiu-jitsu skills, and normally fighting off his back wouldn't be an area of concern. But Gamburyan is nearly impossible to submit and he's nicknamed "The Pitbull" for a reason. Once he gets you on the ground his attack is relentless and even the most skilled grapplers players have had a difficult time applying their trade.
He's been accused of "laying and praying" at times, but for a fighter with his style, fighting for and maintaining dominate position on the ground is everything. And that's what he's great at. If the fans are frustrated with that style, imagine how his opponents feel.
"Bad Boy" trains with a great camp and he'll be well prepared for Manny's wrestling attack. But like most fighters who face "The Pitbull," he's going to have a difficult time executing that gameplan when he's trying to get off his back the entire fight.
Look for another unanimous decision win for Manny here.
Final prediction: Manny "The Pitbull" Gamburyan via unanimous decision.
"Razor" Rob McCullough (17-5) vs. Karen Darabedyan (8-1)
Darabedyan is a talented guy with good wrestling and Muay Thai, but he has a difficult challenge in front of him, facing the former champion in his debut for the promotion.
"Razor" Rob's only losses in the last few years have been to Cerrone and current champion Jamie Varner, but even in those losses, he proved that he belongs with the big boys in the WEC lightweight division.
Darabedyan won't have any tricks up his sleeve that McCullough hasn't already seen multiple times. And while these types of fights are tough on the more well known fighters because there's more pressure on them to perform well, I still don't foresee too many problems for the ex-champ.
His striking should be faster, more technical and more effective. His wrestling and strength should match up well and his experience should push him over the top.
The newcomer will probably stay competitive early on, but "Razor" Rob isn't going to lose this fight. I'm calling a late second round stoppage from strikes.
Final prediction: "Razor" Rob McCullough via technical knockout in round two.
Shane Roller (6-2) vs. Danny Castillo (8-1)
Castillo has looked sharp recently, winning his last three fights under the WEC banner. But this fight appears to be his toughest challenge since losing to Donald Cerrone last year.
Shane Roller is a well accomplished wrestler who has the skill set to end Castillo's winning streak. I thought the same thing about Ricardo Lamas, but he chose to stand with Castillo instead of using his takedowns and that didn't work out so well for him.
I don't think Roller will make the same mistake.
Although Roller is the tough guy type who isn't scared to bang with anyone, I think he's going to take a smarter approach in this fight. While his striking has been improving, Castillo is too dangerous on his feet to take any chances there.
I don't think he'll completely abandon his striking and go all Manny Gamburyan on us, but his gameplan will likely include a lot of takedowns and ground and pound.
Castillo is a talented up and comer with a lot of size for a lightweight and some solid wrestling himself, but this is a bad match up for him. Roller is too tough and too skilled in the clinch and on the mat. Look for Roller to win by decision.
Final prediction: Shane Roller via unanimous decision.
That's a wrap.
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide live coverage of the main card beginning with the Versus telecast at 9 p.m. ET, as well as up-to-the-minute results of the under card action beginning at around 7 p.m. ET.
Check in early and often -- it should be an exciting night of fights.