World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) is all set for its upcoming Versus TV fight card from the "The Pearl" at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Thursday, November 11, 2010.
WEC 52: "Faber vs. Mizugaki" will feature former featherweight champion Urijah Faber making his 135-pound debut against "one of the division's toughest in Japanese striking sensation Takeya Mizugaki."
Late replacement and former bantamweight title contender Joseph Benavidez will be featured in the co main event, battling "grappling ace" Wagnney Fabiano.
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of WEC 52 beginning with the Versus telecast at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, Nov. 11. In addition, we will deliver up-to-the-minute quick results of all the under card action much earlier on fight night.
To help get you better prepared for the festivities, we've given some analysis and predictions for the five main card bouts set to hit the Versus airwaves on Thursday night.
Check it out.
135 lbs.: Urijah "The California Kid" Faber Vs. Takeya Mizugaki
The thought of Faber at 135 pounds is scary. He already has a dominating first round submission victory over reigning champion Dominick Cruz on his resume, and it may only be a matter of time before the words Urijah Faber and UFC champion can be used simultaneously.
I like watching Mizugaki fight. He's a tough guy that is extremely hard to finish, and he always fights to the final bell. Unfortunately for him, he's over-matched physically, athletically, and technically in this fight.
I can't realistically envision a scenario in which Mizugaki finishes this fight or one in which he outworks "The California Kid" en route to a decision victory. I think Faber is too fast for him and after coming down in weight, he should theoretically have a size and strength advantage, too. I think both of those advantages will show on the feet, on the ground, and in the scrambles.
If the fight stays upright, I can't see Mizugaki keeping up with Faber's striking rate. If the Japanese fighter lands one, he'll almost certainly eat two or three in exchange. If the fight goes to the ground, he won't be strong enough or agile enough to keep up with Faber's pace there, either.
I think this fight is going to end in a similar fashion to the way Faber finished guys like Jeff Curran, Charlie Valencia, Cruz, or any of the other unsuccessful opponents he's dominated to a submission victory. Mizugaki is going to be overwhelmed by Faber's speed and unorthodox style, and he's going to get put away with some type of choke.
It won't be long before we see Cruz vs. Faber II on a UFC pay-per-view, unless of course Scott Jorgensen steps up and plays spoiler, which is certainly possible.
Final prediction: Faber via submission
135 lbs.: Joseph Benavidez vs. Wagnney Fabiano
This is a fight that Benavidez should be expected to win. He hasn't had much trouble in the past with jiu jitsu guys, and although Fabiano is coming down in weight, I don't think Benavidez will have trouble defending submissions if he has to. He's also been displaying some improved power and finishing ability in his punches over the past couple of fights, and this looks like another prime opportunity for him to put those talents to work again.
Fabiano has fought safe fights in his two starts since being stunned by Mackens Semerzier last year, and he's come away with two unanimous decision wins over Frank Gomez and Clint Godfrey, respectively. But fighting safe isn't going to work against a guy as active and as dangerous as Benavidez.
If Fabiano has a slow start or trouble executing his gameplan then he won't last long against the super quick and aggressive Benavidez. I think he'll see what he's got on his feet early on, but at some point I'm sure he'll be looking to get the fight to the ground where he can use his size and jiu jitsu. But Benavidez is a squirmy guy. He won't be easy to hold down or work submissions on if Fabiano can get him there.
I basically just don't like this match-up at all for Fabiano. His advantage in size and technique on the ground won't be enough of a difference maker against an athletic all around talent like Benavidez. I like Benavidez to win this fight with his power punching. I realize that Fabiano has never been stopped with strikes, but Benavidez is much more dangerous there than any opponent he's faced before. I think Benavidez gets a stoppage here.
Final prediction: Benavidez via knockout
145 lbs.: Chad "Money" Mendes vs. Javier "Showtime" Vazquez
Vazquez dropped a couple of close decisions in his first two WEC fights against LC Davis and Deividas Taurosevicius, but I think his two most recent starts (submission wins over Mackens Semerzier and Jens Pulver) are more indicative to what kind of fighter he is. He's a good athlete and he's very opportunistic with his submissions. Ten of his opponents so far have tasted defeat by tapout.
However, the bad news for him in this particular fight is that Mendes is a stud wrestler with enough strength and technique to be able to stifle that jiu jitsu attack.
I think Vazquez has the better stand-up, but it's going to be interesting to see how long this fight stays upright, because both guys might think they have an advantage there. We might see a lot of exchanges early on, and like I said, I think that favors Vazquez.
Eventually the wrestler will come out of Mendes, though, and he'll get back to what's got him here, which is takedowns and ground control. I know he doesn't want to be considered a lay and prayer, and sometimes that is an unfair label for a talented wrestler. But in his case, so far he hasn't really stood out in any other areas. A talented wrestler is basically all he is at this point.
That's not a knock on him. He's still a baby in this sport, and he improves and wins every time he steps into the cage. I just don't think he should try to do too much too quickly. I think trying to show diversity in this fight might turn out to be a bad idea for him. I believe a strong ground and pound attack will be enough for him to pull out his ninth straight win. But if he starts trying to get fancy and do things he's not comfortable doing, then like I said, Vazquez is a very opportunistic fighter.
This is going to be an interesting fight. I'll take the safe route and pick Mendes by decision, but I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Vazquez pull something off.
Final prediction: Mendes via decision
145 lbs.: Erik "New Breed" Koch vs. Francisco Rivera
Koch can thank the UFC/WEC merger for not having to fight the freight train that is Josh Grispi in this fight. They were originally scheduled to do battle here, but Grispi was promoted to a huge UFC title fight against Jose Aldo on the UFC 125 card instead.
Koch has been good so far in his three fights for the WEC, though. He lost the one fight to Chad Mendes, but losing to Mendes is certainly a respectable loss, especially considering the fight went the full three rounds. He also has a win over Jameel Massouh by decision, and his most recent outing resulted in a first round submission victory over Bendy Casimir at WEC 49.
Rivera is a newcomer to the WEC and basically to mixed martial arts, as well. This will be the sixth fight of his career overall and the first on such a big stage. I think Koch is the better fighter anyway, but the pressure of fighting in a Versus televised fight for the first time could also work against Rivera.
I like Koch to pull this one out with some type of submission. He has a seventy percent finishing rate by way of tapout so far in his career, and facing a relative newcomer like Rivera, who hasn't shown a lot of ground skills, should provide him a chance to improve on that mark.
Final prediction: Koch via submission
135 lbs.: Damacio "Angel of Death" Page Vs. Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson
I like Damacio in this fight. He has a good combination of speed and power with his hands, and he trains with a great camp at Greg Jackson's.
He has a decent size advantage in this fight, too, and that was something that was an issue for Johnson in his loss to Brad Pickett at WEC 48. I think Page is going to have a pretty easy time dictating the pace of this fight and where it takes place.
His only loss in the WEC was to former champion Brian Bowles. His two most recent opponents (Will Campuzano and Marcos Galvao) were both stopped inside the first round, and he also holds a win over current bantamweight number one contender Scott Jorgensen via unanimous decision from back at WEC 32. Page is definitely one of the division's top guys.
I expect "Mighty Mouse" to have trouble on his feet with Damacio's boxing, and I don't think he'll have enough advantage in the wrestling department to take him down or do much damage if he does.
Final prediction: Page via knockout
That's a wrap. Sound off with your predictions in the comments section below.