WEC 49: "Varner vs. Shalorus" will complete an action packed week of mixed martial arts this Sunday night (June 20) at the Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
The event marks the first ever for the WEC outside of the United States. Canadian fighters Chris "The Polish Hammer" Horodecki, Mark "The Machine" Hominick and Yves "Tiger" Jabouin will be in action on the main card which will air live on the Versus network beginning at 9 p.m. ET on fight night.
Jamie "C-4" Varner and Kamal "Prince of Persia" Shalorus will headline the card in a battle of top lightweight contenders. Featherweights L.C. Davis and Josh "The Fluke" Grispi will be featured in the co-main event.
To help get you better prepared for the festivities we've given some analysis and predictions for the main card below.
Check it out.
155 lbs.: Jamie "C-4" Varner vs. Kamal "Prince of Persia" Shalorus
Call me crazy, but I think the "Prince of Persia" has the tools to pull off the upset here.
First, I think he's the better stand-up fighter head to head against Varner. I like his counter striking and I think his movement is better. They're actually pretty even, though, because both guys have the ability to be effective with punches as well as kicks, and both have fight-ending power. The difference is going to be Varner's reluctance to use his kicks because of Shalorus' wrestling skills.
Normally Varner wouldn't sweat the possibility of getting taken down. After all, he's a fantastic wrestler himself, with a better than average ground game and nine career wins by submission. But even he went on record saying that Shalorus' wrestling is on another level.
That was apparent when the former Olympic standout owned the previously unbeaten Dave Jansen at WEC 46 by stuffing takedown attempt after takedown attempt and scoring points with his stand-up. I think a similar formula will be enough to beat Varner, but rest assured that this guy has the ability to put the former champ on his back and keep him there if he needs to. And don't sleep on his submission skills, either.
Don't get me wrong, Varner is still one of the best lightweights in the WEC, but this is going to be a frustrating fight for him. "C-4" was winning against Ben Henderson before he made a rookie mistake in the third round, which led to a guillotine choke out. The last thing he wants to do now is lose two in a row, especially to a fighter that not many fans know much about. Because of that, I believe he comes out with a cautious mindset, and Shalorus is going to jump on him early.
Obviously, fighting a former champion like Jaime Varner in a headlining bout is going to raise the stakes and add more pressure for Shalorus, but I believe he's up to the challenge.
I think he'll wear Varner down and frustrate him early on with strikes and takedown defense. He'll eventually end up on top on the ground. Varner will give up his back and Shalorus will choke him out.
Final prediction: Kamal Shalorus via submission (rear naked choke)
145 lbs.: L.C. Davis vs. Josh "The Fluke" Grispi
A lot of fans have looked at this card and been unimpressed with the apparent lack of star power. But when this event is over, there are going to be at least one name that will leave a lasting impression, and that's Josh Grispi.
L.C. Davis is a high level mixed martial artist who has proven himself with some big wins over some stiff competition during his eighteen fight career. But he's not going to be much more than a stepping stone in this fight.
It was no "Fluke" when Grispi destroyed Jens Pulver in less than a minute of work at WEC 41 last year, despite coming into the fight on an injured ankle that later required surgery.
This guy is the real deal.
He has a great killer instict, having won twelve of his thirteen fights inside the first round, including all three of his WEC fights in less than a total of four minutes and twenty seconds. He hasn't exactly been facing scrubs, either. Besides Pulver, Mark Hominick and Micah Miller have also joined Grispi's hit list during his time with the promotion.
The thing I like the most about Grispi, though, is his size. He's enormous for a featherweight. He's just under six feet tall, but he somehow still carries a solid frame. That physical advantage combined with his non stop motor and killer instict allow him to impose his will on his opponents, which has led to all the early stoppages.
I don't see this fight being any different. Davis is a very good fighter, but he's been getting by recently by squeaking out a lot of close decisions. He's a slow starter, and that's just not good at all against Grispi.
Final prediction: Josh Grispi via technical knockout
155 lbs.: Chris "The Polish Hammer" Horodecki vs. Danny "Boy" Downes
"The Polish Hammer" made a huge mistake by turning his back to Anthony Njokuani in his debut with the promotion at WEC 45. He ended up on the receiving end of a highlight reel head kick because of the error, which was the exact opposite of the first impression he made with IFL fans four years ago when he knocked out Erik Owings with a similar blow.
There's no such thing as a second chance at a first impression, but Horodecki will undoubtedly be looking for a much more impressive showing for his second start in front of the WEC fans.
It looks like he'll have a great opportunity to do just that against Downes, too, who is stepping in on super-short notice for Ed "9mm" Ratcliff, who was forced to back out of the fight just a couple of days ago due to injury.
Danny "Boy" looks to be a solid prospect, though. He's undefeated in six pro fights. He's a Muay Thai and Tae-Kwon-Do specialist with five of those wins coming by technical knockout.
This should be a fun fight for the fans between two sluggers with a lot to prove. Sign me up.
Final prediction: "The Polish Hammer" by technical knockout
155 lbs.: Yves "Tiger" Jabouin vs. Mark "The Machine" Hominick
Hominick had a bad showing against Grispi at WEC 36, but it's unfair to judge him on that fight. He's won both of his starts since then, including a first round submission win over Bryan Caraway at WEC 46 back in January. And remember, he also previously fought as a lightweight in the UFC and produced wins over Yves Edwards and Jorge Grugel.
He's a very good all-around fighter with a solid resume.
"Tiger" is an extremely dangerous striker with knockout power in both his hands and feet. Eleven of his fourteen wins have been by (T)KO. Hominick will probably look to negate that power with a lot of takedowns and clinching. If he can have success with that, he should be able to get a win here.
Hominick gets a lot of quality training with top notch strikers at Team Tompkins. He'll be well prepared to deal with Jabouin's strengths. Plus he has more experience against tougher competition. And one of his training partners, Sam Stout, has a previous win over Jabouin. I think "The Machine" hold his own in the stand-up and score enough takedowns throughout the fight to win on the cards.
Final prediction: Mark Hominick via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Will Campuzano vs. Eddie Wineland
Campuzano stepped up on short notice to fight one of the most dangerous fighters on the roster in his WEC debut in Damacio Page. He paid for it with a first round submission loss, but he came back three months later and grabbed his first WEC win and a "fight of the night" bonus, to boot.
Now the WEC has paired him up against a former champion in Eddie Wineland, who has won two straight fights against two very tough fighters in George Roop and Manny Tapia.
Both of these guys are young and hungry fighters and this should be another solid fight. Campuzano is giving up a little bit in the experience department, though. Wineland has nearly three times as many pro fights, and he's clearly faced stiffer competition.
I have to think the ex-champ finds a way to win this one.
Final prediction: Eddie Wineland via unanimous decision
That's a wrap. Sound off with your predictions in the comments section below.
And Remember that MMAmania.com will provide live blow-by-blow commentary of the main card beginning with the Versus telecast at 9 p.m. ET on fight night. Check in early and often.